Category Archives: Psychology

11 Most Common Triggers for Aggression in Dogs


Dog bites are preventable, but it takes work from both the dog’s owner and anyone that encounters the dog. A good first step in preventing aggressive in dogs is knowing the common triggers. Robin Bennett, CPDT-KA, author of All About Dog Daycare gave us a list of the 11 most common triggers – avoid them to help prevent an attack from happening.

#1 – Small children

The fast and sometimes erratic movement from children can trigger a dog’s negative reaction. If you have a dog that is not child-friendly, you need to be aware and try your best to avoid them coming at your dog.

#2 – Bikes, Skateboards, Scooters, etc.

Fast moving objects that are new and unfamiliar to a dog can scare them. Also, many dogs get excited by the moving wheels; they ignite their prey drive, causing them to chase after and attack the vehicle and its rider.

#3 – Getting Too Close Too Fast

Reaching out for a dog that is not comfortable or prepared for it can cause them to snap. No one should approach a dog head on, hand out stretched.

#4 – Hugging/kissing

Many dogs don’t like to be restrained for a hug and a kiss. Watch for signs your dog is stressed and ask people to not pet your dog.

#5 – Overstimulaton/overarousal

Arousal and aggression are linked, so getting a dog too revved up can cause a reaction. So, teaching your dog to be calm in public situations is a must. In addition, avoid revving him up with games like tug or fetch right before you go out. Instead, do calm warm-up training, like extended mat stays.

#6 – Cornering a Dog

Blocking a dog’s escape route (by cornering him, blocking his exit from a crate, or holding him on leash when he wants away) can cause him to react. It’s like backing a wild animal into a corner. They may have been running, but now they can’t. The only thing they can do is turn and fight.

#7 – Harsh Punishment

Yelling, hitting or harmfully correcting a dog can cause him to defend himself. Correction is not the way to get a dog to not bite.

#8 – Being threatened by another dog

Being barked or chased by another dog can cause a dog to defend himself. Try to not walk by reactive dogs in your neighborhood or take your dog to uncontrollable environments like the dog park. It’s not worth the risk.

#9 – Handling

If a dog isn’t used to a veterinary exam, nail clipping or grooming, those experiences can trigger aggression. Be sure to move slowly, work on handling, and watch for signs you are pushing your dog too far.

#10 – Defending Territory

A dog is usually more confident in his own area and may act more aggressive if strangers come into the yard or home (this might also be termed guarding behavior…guarding toys, food, locations, people, etc)

#11 – Frustration

If a dog is agitated but restrained by a gate, tether, or person, that `dog is likely to redirect his aggression onto the nearest other object, animal or person. Be aware of this as you walk your dog. If they start to get revved up about something across the street, you are the nearest object to redirect on. It’s best to turn around and walk away if you are going to lose control of your dog and possibly get bit.


Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
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