How to distinguish early signs of aggression in dogs.

Wondering if your dog is showing signs of aggression? Below are easy to follow general rules when it comes to dog aggression.

1. Growling.

Growling developed as an effective warning signal to keep other animals away. A growl is a dog’s way of letting you know it’s going to bite in order to defend itself. This is a defense mechanism and nothing more, and by growling, dogs generally hope that the threat will go away. Dogs might growl in various scenarios, but none are acceptable for the family pet. If your dog is growling at you when you’re trying to approach him, it’s a good idea to take a long look at why. Your dog might be frightened and doesn’t want to be touched, or perhaps he’s guarding his favorite toy or treat from you, someone else, or another dog. Either way, dogs growling at anybody need to be assessed by a professional trainer.

2. Biting and snapping.

Dogs don’t often go in for a full bite or attack mode without any warning signs, and growling is one of those signs. Biting and snapping are generally the next step in the aggression phase. Dogs might lightly nip or even snap at the air without making contact as a threat. As with the growling, they are simply trying to warn others to stay away and leave them alone. Even if your dog doesn’t make contact or break skin with a snap, you want to make sure this behavior never happens again.

3. Biting.

Biting isn’t necessarily an early sign of aggression, but it is definitely a sign that you need to hire a professional trainer. Bites can vary from the above-mentioned snapping to very serious bites. Even if your dog just grabs someone’s clothing and pulls a little bit before letting go, you want to count that as a bite. Any attempt or instance of teeth meeting skin should be considered a bite and should always be taken very seriously. Bites will escalate, and you will go from a scratch to needing stitches very quickly if the aggression is not addressed.

So keep these in mind when dealing with new dogs, and everything will be okay.