Why do dogs become aggressive? Fear, illness, and frustration are a few reasons, but owners' actions can also make normally calm dogs become aggressive.

What Are the Major Causes of Dog Aggression?

While some dogs can seem aggressive by nature, other dogs who appear to have a sweet personality can sometimes suddenly turn aggressive. This can create a dangerous situation for anyone near the dog when it lashes out. It can be helpful to understand why dogs are aggressive and the warnings to watch for to try to avoid being the victim of a dog bite.

What Causes Dog Aggression?

Knowing the causes of aggression can also help dog owners manage a dangerous situation better. Some of the reasons for dog aggression include the following:

  • Illness. Some illnesses, such as a brain tumor, thyroid disease, and rabies, can cause a dog to suddenly become more aggressive. The dog could be responding to feeling pain by lashing out. A dog owner could be negligent as well as cruel if he leaves the dog in this condition and the dog bites someone.
  • Fear. If a dog is fearful, he can display aggression to defend himself. Often the dog may not see another way to escape the situation.
  • Possessiveness. Dogs can be possessive of certain items, like toys, food, or their yards. When someone tries to take the item or invade their space, they could respond by attacking the person.
  • Frustration. When a dog is frustrated by not being able to get to something, he can take out his frustration in other ways, such as by growling, snapping, or other aggressive behavior.

Unfortunately, uncaring dog owners can cause their dogs to become aggressive by their treatment of the dogs. This can create some of the feelings in the dog, like fear, pain, and frustration, which cause them to bite and more viciously attack people. Common ways people make their dogs aggressive include:

  • Physically abusing the dog
  • Providing inadequate care by a vet
  • Not giving the dog enough exercise
  • Using poor or aggressive training
  • Utilizing painful training tools, like choke collars
  • Chaining dogs outside
  • Stereotyping a dog as aggressive and then treating him in ways that encourages this type of behavior

What Are the Warning Signs of an Aggressive Dog?

To keep you and your family safe, you need to understand the warning signs that a dog is aggressive so that you can try to prevent an attack. Some of these warning signs include:

  • Overzealousness in greeting family and friends
  • Unusual fear of meeting new people or other new stimuli
  • Prolonged staring
  • Raised hackles
  • Growling
  • Bared teeth and snapping
  • An arched back
  • Pricked-forward ears or ears that are lowered back

If you were injured by a dog bite, you may be able to hold the dog owner responsible for compensating you under Washington’s dog bite laws. To learn more, call our office to schedule a free consultation with our experienced dog bite attorneys.