Dog aggression is something that is misunderstood and misinterpreted by people. There are so many fallacies about Dog Aggression.
First, let me start by saying aggression has absolutely nothing to do with the type of breed of the dog! It depends on whether or not the dog has a Fight or Flight response. Next, the old school thought process is that Dog Aggression is genetic which is something that can be barely proved in humans never mind dogs. Due to this fallacy, it is believed that aggression cannot be rehabilitated. This is absolutely not true! With some time and effort, with proper instructions and direction the owner can rehabilitate this behavior. The owner needs to gain the complete trust and respect of the dog and the first step is they need to give their dog the trust and respect first.
From my field studies, research, and observations there are several reasons as to why dogs exhibit aggression. Dog aggression occurs when the dog has a distrust of people to the extent that they feel the need to defend themselves. What is a dog’s only defensive mechanism? It is his bite. People sometimes forget they are still animals even though they are domesticated. It can also occur when a dog is wounded. They feel like an easy target, easy prey and when approached they will defend themselves.
There is also aggression that develops from a lack of leadership, and another form is from the communication given to dogs by people. People often claim dogs attack without warning but to a trained eye dogs always give warning with their body language. If this behavior is not corrected properly, it will develop into a Learned Behavior.
Fear aggression presents itself in different ways. Some dogs will bark and growl and then perform a False Charge to intimidate what they consider to be a threat. Over time it will escalate to nipping and then biting. This type of bite is a defensive strike so they will bite and back away.
Other dogs will become so fearful and nervous they will go into a panic attack. They will bite and keep on biting and because of the state of panic they lose control of their actions.
Other dogs are so fearful that when they muster up the nerve and the bite occurs they shut down like a deer in the headlights and won’t let go. This is where the fallacy of Lockjaw comes from. It is scientifically proven that no breed of dog is capable of Lockjaw. This results from this type of fear.
Another reason, dogs are pack animals and by instinct someone has to be in charge. If no one assumes this role the dog will take this position. If the dog is a natural born follower, he does not have the confidence to be leader and perform this job correctly and over time can develop into a negative behavior of aggression.
Other dogs act out in aggression as a result of the direction and communication given to them by their owner / handler. Dogs learn through association. For example, a person is walking their dog and they see another dog and then they tense up on the leash which is communicating to the dog that something is wrong with that dog’s approach, and the handler is nervous which makes them weak in the eyes of their dog and these actions puts their dog into protection mode, hence the reaction.
Now that you have an understanding as the why a dog reacts with aggression you can see the situation is not hopeless and can be corrected with proper training for both the owner and the dog.