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K9 In Training - Aggression Issues
The United States has the highest reported incidence of dog aggression problems of any country in the world, with an estimated 4.5 million dog attack victims each year. One of the major contributing factors to the development of dog aggression is living as part of a multidog (more than one) household. More than a third of dogs in the United States—a higher percentage than any other country in the world—live as part of multidog households.

Busy lifestyles are also a major contributing factor to the rising occurrences of aggression related attacks. As the American working week gets longer and longer, the responsibility of many dog owners often slips, leading to mild and more extreme cases of neglect. This neglect can start with something as simple as missing a walk here and there because of business meetings or late nights depriving the dog of much needed mental or physical stimulation. In time, isolation, the inability to express their frustrations or repressed energies in a positive manner can have an effect on the mental and/or physical well-being of the dog.

Dogs that attack humans are often dominantly aggressive. They will show their dominance over humans by mounting humans, placing paws in the human's lap, being reluctant to obey commands that put them in submissive positions, and show signs of confidence such as keeping its head and ears erect.Dominant aggressive dogs will only attack if you show dominance towards them, such as a pat on the head or direct eye contact. When a dominant aggressive dog attacks, they will normally react with increasingly violent actions, from becoming very rigid to a vigorous bite and shake.

Three main factors that add to aggerssion:
  1. Behavior/Learned Aggression
  2. Breeding/Genetic Aggression
  3. Medical/Physical ailments
Behavior/Learned Aggersion

​​​​​​​What is learned over time may be forgotten or unlearned "extinct behavior".Some examples and condititions that increase learned aggression:
  • Lack of proper exposure to other dogs during the critical socialization period
  • Early imprinting by an aggressive or nervous dam
  • A traumatic experience
  • Anxiety, fear or phobia
  • Abuse from owners
  • Territorial behavior
  • Lack of structure
  • Food Aggression
  • Pack Aggression
One of the most common is food scarcity--common with rescued dogs that come from the wild or off thestreets. When there is little food, the animals of a certain group, or in the case of solitary animals, the same habitat, will compete frequently for what food they do have. Over time and proper training, food aggression may reduce or extinct.

Treat your dog like a human and you will be treated like a dog. If an animal believes that it is dominant, it will be dominant. The animal may lash out with aggression if it feels that another animal or a human is a threat to its dominance. 

Social and Pack Aggression is when you see one dog being chased by a number or when you see a pack of dogs tag-team nips and bites at one dog. Mobbing is an antipredator behavior that occurs when members of a certain species cooperatively attack or harrass a predator. This action is usually done to protect their offspring.

Breeding/Genetic Aggression

The field of psychology has been greatly influenced by the study of genetics. Decades of research has demonstrated that both genetic and environmental factors play a role in a variety of behaviors in humans and animals (e.g. Grigorenko & Sternberg, 2003). The genetic basis of aggression, however, remains poorly understood. Aggression is a multi-dimensional concept, but it can be generally defined as behavior that inflicts pain or harm on another.


Aggression, as well as other behavioral traits, is studied genetically based on its heritability through generations. Heritability models of aggression are mainly based on animals due to the ethical concern in using humans for genetic study. Animals are first selectively bred and then placed in a variety of environmental conditions, allowing researchers to examine the differences of selection in the aggression of animals.

Research Methods

As with other topics in behavioral genetics, aggression is studied in three main experimental ways to help identify what role genetics plays in the behavior: ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
  • Heritability studies – studies focused to determine whether a trait, such as aggression, is heritable and how it is inherited from parent to offspring. These studies make use of genetic linkage maps to identify genes associated with certain behaviors such as aggression. 
  • Mechanism experiments – studies to determine the biological mechanisms that lead certain genes to influence types of behavior like aggression. 
  • Genetic behavior correlation studies – studies that use scientific data and attempt to correlate it with actual human behavior. Examples include twin studies and adoption studies.
These three main experimental types are used in animal studies, studies testing heritability and molecular genetics, and gene interaction/environment studies. Recently, important links between aggression and genetics have been studied and the results are allowing scientists to better understand the connections.

Selective Breeding

The heritability of aggression has been observed in many animal strains after noting that some strains of birds, dogs, fish, and mice seem to be more aggressive than other strains. Selective breeding has demonstrated that it is possible to select for genes that lead to more aggressive behavior in animals. Selective breeding examples also allow researchers to understand the importance of developmental timing for genetic influences on aggressive behavior. A study done in 1983 (Cairns) produced both highly aggressive male and female strains of mice dependent on certain developmental periods to have this more aggressive behavior expressed. These mice were not observed to be more aggressive during the early and later stages of their lives but during certain periods of time (in their middle-age period) were more violent and aggressive in their attacks on other mice. Selective breeding is a quick way to select for specific traits with the effects of selection being seen within a few generations of breeding. These characteristics make selective breeding an important tool in the study of genetics and aggressive behavior.  ​

Medical or physical ailments

Canine distemper, also known as hardpad disease, is a highly contagious viral disease seen around the world.It is characterized clinically by diphasic fever, leukopenia, gastrointestinal and respiratory catarrh, and commonly pneuomonic and neurologic complications. It gets the nickname "hardpad disease" because dogs that survive the acute stage of encephalomyelitis may have hyperkeratosis of the footpads. Dogs that survive canine distemper will also continue to suffer from Enamel hypoplasia, especially puppies. Symptoms relating to degeneration of the nervous system are common after canine distemper. Dogs that have been infected also tend to suffer from a progressive deterioration of motor skills and mental abilites, severe seizures, paralysis, reduction in sight, and incoordination. These dogs are often humanely euthanized.

Rabies is an acute, progressive viral encephalomyelitis that affects mainly bats and carnivores, though it can affect any mammal. Once symptoms appear, the disease is fatal. Though found throughout the world, a few countries claim to be free of rabies due to successful elimination programs, island status, or strong regulations on quaranting.

syringomyelia, which occurs as a result of the skull being too small for the brain common in certain breed.

Just like us when we are in pain or discomfort we are not as friendly as normal.