Aggression can occur in dogs for many different reasons. Many pet parents devote time to socializing their dogs when they are puppies to prevent aggressive behavior, but sometimes, aggression appears unexpectedly in older dogs. What should you do if your previously calm and friendly dog starts to demonstrate aggression? Your veterinarian is a good resource for information. This advice will also help.
Rule Out Health-Related Causes
Sometimes, peaceful dogs develop aggressive behavior in response to medical issues. If your dog begins to snap when receiving pets or suddenly growls when people come near, he or she could be experiencing painful symptoms of a medical issue like arthritis or a fracture. Similarly, dogs who become newly aggressive may be experiencing a brain-related illness that causes cognitive dysfunction. When your dog starts to become aggressive, make an appointment with your vet to rule out underlying health problems that are triggering his or her behavior.
Consider the Impact of Lifestyle Changes
Aggression can appear in dogs after an impactful lifestyle change. A major trigger for aggressive behavior is the introduction of a new pet into the home. If you adopt a new dog or cat, your dog may begin to display aggression to protect his or her food and belongings. Vying for your attention aggressively is another common behavior. Bringing a new baby home, moving in with a partner, or relocating to a new place can also cause unexpected aggressive behavior.
Consult a Professional
It is extremely difficult—and in some cases, dangerous—to try to correct aggressive behavior in a dog on your own. Ask your vet to recommend a dog behaviorist who can work with you to develop a behavior modification plan to help resolve your pet’s aggression in a way that is safe for both your pet and your family.
At Horizon Animal Hospital, our veterinarians can care for your pet through all stages of life, offering both preventative and acute treatments. To make an appointment at our animal clinic in Scottsdale, please call (480) 614-9500.