Random Aggressive Behaviors

Many dogs display what I like to call random aggressive behaviors.  What exactly is random aggressive behaviors, you must be wondering.  Well I’ll tell you, random aggressive behaviors is any behavior that can lead to a biting incident or an attempt at biting that can manifest itself randomly in the dogs mind.  This type of behavior in dogs although is not that uncommon, is one of those things that really confuse most people as to why it happens.

To say this behavior is a little confusing, frustrating and emotionally stressful  for those animal lovers that have dogs like this, is  putting it mildly. It is unquestionably, emotionally extremely stressful for the whole family.

OK, so what do these dogs do ? These are the type of dogs that will seek you out for some loving attention, and occasionally stiffen up and either bite you or attempt to bite you. Or they can be quietly laying down near your feet and when you get up to change the TV channel ( oops, showing my age here) the dog growls or snaps at you. There are a couple of other scenarios along the same lines, but I think you get the general idea.

Why does my dog do this ? This part is easy. This is NOT aggression, and this is NOT dominance. This is a FEAR based behavior, regardless of what some dog training professional will tell you. I know, it doesn’t make sense, but it does make sense to your dog. Let me try to explain it this way, many people live part of their lives in fear because of some type of phobia. To someone  not inflicted by an emotionally crippling phobia, it hard for them to understand or even make sense of  how it can affect some people.  After all, isn’t fear just in your mind.

The fear your dogs has, in his mind anyway. Is that he’s going to be attacked, and he’s going to act preemptively to remove his perceived threat.  From a logical and analytical standpoint, WE know that nothings going to hurt him. But the mind is a powerful and sometimes confusing thing,  just ask the millions of people who have phobias.

Thank you for visiting.

The Spirit Dog

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FYI, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_phobias


17 Responses

  1. You really, really need to learn proper punctuation and grammar. Your lack of it and misuse of it makes everything you say difficult to read, and it discredits you as an authority on any issue. How can anyone believe you actually understand something as difficult as dog psychology when you obviously don’t understand how to use something as simple as a comma? Just saying.

  2. I have a 5 year old golden. He is very well bred. He bit me when he was 3 years old. It was a very stressful and chaotic situation. When I grabbed him to remove him, he wheeled around and bit me. We did some intense training and I can control him. Last night he bit my husband when he tried to bring him the house. I was not around. The dog is unpredictable. Any suggestions?

  3. You described our dog perfectly. But how do we help him not be afraid?

  4. Yeah, I know an Old English Sheepdog that does NOT like to be surprised. Especially from behind. He kind of freaks out after having a bad experience once.


  5. Thanks Bob, but no she is fit & healthy, and also the incidents that have occurred have been so far apart it’s not like she’s suddenly developed this and she’s doing it all the time ie a medical issue which has arisen which could be the cause. She can go for months and not have any incidents occur and then she can suddenly snap. I think it was maybe because the other dog startled her so that may be the fear based thing? Thanks

  6. Have you had Marley checked for any medical problems? Something might be bothering him that you don’t know about.


  7. Hi there,
    Came across this post as we experienced a very distressing episode where our dog Marley (possible bull mastiff/pit bull/ridgeback mix) attacked another dog. She goes into this ‘rage’ state it seems where she can’t hear anything and all you can do is physiclly grab her to stop the fight. It happened because another dog I was walking accidentally ran into her while attempting to chase a ball, and Marley just lost it & jumped this other dog.
    Unfortunately this is not the first time it has happened, and she is not an aggressive dog, as we can go down the dog park and walk past & sniff other dogs quite happily, it’s just these very rare occasions where she seems to go from 0-10 in a split second with no warning, which also makes me think she is not an aggressive/dominant dog as she doesn’t give any pre-warning like growling etc. she is a very obedient dog as well at all other times, she doesn’t get on the bed, she comes when called, she’s a great dog, it’s just she has these occasional moments where she loses it & attacks another dog like she’s going to kill it. 😦 so reading this article made me think maybe it is fear based? Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thank you. Amelia

  8. Hi Alan,
    Rosie, the aggressor, is a 3 year old bulldog mix that we’ve had a little more than a year. Harvey is a 2.5 year old lab/pix mix, that we’ve had since he was a pup, both have been altered, Rosie before we got her and Harvey about a year ago. Before now, they’ve gotten along very well, they play together, sleep together, share food (even though they have their own bowls), and we’ve never had any major problems. When they play, they’ll rough-house (but clearly playfully), and they play fetch together, taking turns bringing back the toy and we haven’t had any problems with them sharing playtime. They are both a bit possessive of us, but not usually of any kind of toys, bones, food, or anything. The random nature of the aggression is what really concerns us, since we have no idea what might trigger it to happen again or what we can do to avoid it. Currently, we’re keeping them separated, but when they’ve lived together peacefully for a year, it’s a challenging lifestyle to adjust to for everyone.

  9. Hi Emily,

    Tell me a little bit more about both of your dogs. How old, male-female, breed, how do they play together, do either of them get possessive of certain objects, food, people, things ?

    Thanks Alan https://www.facebook.com/SpiritAnimalSanctuary

  10. Thanks, Bob. As far as I can tell, there aren’t any health factors. Nothing else has changed, same eating/outdoor habits, otherwise same attitude/personality. I can try to get into my vet sometime soon and see if there’s something else I’m not seeing.

  11. Emily, have you had the dog checked out by a vet to see if he’s medially OK? He might have a problem that you can see.


  12. I have been having this issue lately with a dog we adopted a year ago. Everyone has been living in peace for a year, but twice in the last month, my dog has attacked another dog, the first time a dog she didn’t know well, and most recently, our other dog that she’s been living, playing, and cuddling with for so long. Now we feel that we can’t trust her around him, or any other dog, and I’m afraid that we may have to take her back to the shelter if we can’t resolve the problem. With no obvious reason for her attacks, we don’t know how to keep her from doing it again. We love her, but we have to think of our other dog and anyone else she may come into contact with. Please help!

  13. I have a similar problem, I adopted my dog yesterday not from a pound. We brought him home and he was completley fine with my other dogs and myself. The first incident was the night we brought him home, he was lying on the floor and I was talking to him, he was looking at me and randomly started growling and then stopped and didn’t do it again. Today he was in the back seat of my car with my dad and he was fine and then all of a sudden he started growling at my dad and showing him his teeth. About 10 minutes ago he growled at my mom when she went to put his food down. My mom wants to get rid of him and I’m freaking out. I think we should give him more time since he’s only been here for a day but my mom is worried that he’ll hurt someone or one of our pets. HELP !

  14. Hello Jessica, just checking to see if you received my email.

  15. This article makes a lot of sense to me now. My dog just had a scary random act of aggression with my husband and now looking back, it was because he was caught off guard. Unfortunately this has not been the only aggressive tendencies and the other examples of aggression seem to be dominance related ….We are in a very sad place right now 😦 We have been to trainers so I guess my question is…Do you think our dog could ever be 100% rehabilitated?

  16. Hey Bob, the cause or the stimulus is not as important as knowing the look that precedes the dogs action. Regardless if it was an environmental stimulus or an imaginary perceived threat (which the above post is about) our approach to helping the dog get over his fears is the same.

    Visit Our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spirit-Animal-Sanctuary/163431980353279

  17. I think this is basically a communication problem. There’s obviously something that’s making the dog uncomfortable and they sometimes have a panicked reaction.

    We are just not picking up the stimulus, or what is causing the dog angst.

    And, many people probably can’t tell when their dog is going to “go”. You can see this at dog parks. You watch a pair or group of dogs getting in each others space and one dog is about to “go” and none of the owners pick up on it.


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