Idiopathic Aggression (also known as Rage Syndrome) is
aggressive behavior with no known cause. Because the
cause of the aggression is unknown, it's a hard behavior to
change. This is a very dangerous behavior partially because
of the sponaneous nature of it.
Idiopathic aggression is one of the hardest types to deal
because there are no known triggers to be addressed.
Some dogs give an indication of the upcoming outburst by
physical changes that can be observed if one is watching
carefully. These physical changes include a glazed look in
the eyes which is often acompanied by indications of
confusion. Cocker Spaniels, Springer Spaniels and other
spaniel breeds are more prone to this behavior disorder
than other breeds as indicated by the names Spaniel rage,
Cocker rage, and Springer rage), The genetic closeness of
the breeds involved give rise to the suspicion that this
affliction is at least in part, genetic. If you believe your dog
might suffer from this disorder, see a veterinarian that
specializes in behavioral issues as well.
There are many different reasons for aggression in dogs and in order to
successfully stop the aggression, you will need to know what it stems from. Here
is a list of the most common reasons for canine aggression.
A territorially aggressive dog is one that will react aggressively should anyone
approach 'his' property, be it the car, the house, the yard or even his/her people.
It is this behavioral issue that causes mail personnel to carry cans of mace, etc.
Some breeds are more prone to this behavior than others and it's not always the
breeds you would suspect. Some people desire this type of behavior as in a
'guard dog' and others consider it a liability. It depends on your use of the dog as
to whether this behavior is acceptable or not.
Sometimes new mothers can be overly protective of their newborn pups. This can translate to
aggression if their concern is not heeded. A stray mother with her pups is even more likely to
show aggression in order to ensure the safety of her pups. Always respect the space of a
mother and her litter. If you don't know the dog, or the owner of the dog, it's best to steer clear.
If the dog and or her puppies are in danger, call a professional to come out and handle them.
Pain from visible or non visible sources can bring on aggression responses. If you are
around a dog that has been injured, consider contacting a professional to collect the dog
and get it help. If your dog experiences a sudden change in personality, a visit to the vet
is in order. Never put yourself in the position of possible injury even if it's your own dog.
Get help. This dog's posture and eyes are showing plenty of fear and the dog is in
obvious pain. You would not approach this dog lightly, nor should you approach at all if
you don't know what you're doing.
An abused dog can go from cowering submission to all out aggression in
a heartbeat. This dog's whole demeanor says 'don't hurt me'. This is
abuse induced aggression. A dog such as this will need a lot of time,
patience and a knowlegeable trainer to undo the emotional damage done
through physical abuse.
Food aggression is pretty self explanitory and can have different roots. Food
aggression in puppies can be addressed young and can head off later
problems. Resue dogs often have food aggression issues as they have gone for
extended periods of time either fighting for their food or having no food at all.
As the dog gets older, the problem gets harder to solve. Some breeds are more
apt to show this behavior than others. If you are feeding a dog you do not
know, keep your hands away from the bowl once it's down. This is a behavior
that can be trained out of many, but not all dogs.
Dog on dog aggression can be caused by a number of things. Usually it is
same sex dogs and often under the same ownership. Dominance and
jealousy issues arise and often an uninformed owner will worsen the
situation by coddling the dog being attacked. If you have these sorts of
issues, you will want to contact a professional and have your situation
Never get between two fighting dogs, you may be the victim of the next
type of aggression.
Misdirected aggression is normally caused by someone trying to break up a dog fight or
separate dog from prey animal. A dog involved in either fighting or subduing a prey animal is
too focused on the task at hand to be bothered with whatever else is going on around them.
Because of this, if you try to get between them and the subject of their attention, you are very
likely going to become a subject of misdirected aggression.
Dogs have a natural prey instinct that causes them to want to chase moving
objects be they biological or mechanical. This may be fine when your dog
chases rabbits out in the field, outperforms your cat in rodent extermination
or just has fun chasing anything from balls to butterflies. Where the problem
begins is when the dog attacks an inappropriate biological or mechanical
object of desire, especially if that object is a bike, car, skateboard or even a
Correcting this behavior takes the skill, knowledge and patience of a
This is another instance of territorial or 'resource' protection. This is a dog that
will use barking, growling and threatening body language in order to control keep
the human members of the household from acquiring the resource being
protected. This is a very dangerous behavior and should be addressed
immediately. Consult an animal behavior expert. Trying to address this behavior
on your own could result in your being badly bitten. A dog such as this is both a
physical and a financial liability. The look on the girl's face and her apprehensive
body language gives the idea that this particular dog (who has an intensity about
his body language) might be claiming this particular spot on the couch as his and
is unwilling to relinquish it when requested to do so.
Fear aggressive dogs can send off a multitude of signals, some crystal clear and
others as clear as mud. Fear aggressive dogs can cower and tremble, leaving you
with the impression of needing comforting. One of the worst things you can do
with a fear aggressive dog is try to coddle it. This can do a couple of things, it can
reinforce the behavior, and it can also heighten the fear by causing the feeling of
being trapped or towered over, both possibly culminating in a bite. If you don't
know the dog and you are unsure of the body language, it is best to have a
professional deal with the dog.
Rabies is another cause of aggression in dogs. Though it has gone down
considerably over the years, rabies is still out there and dogs are still
getting it from wild animals. If your dog or any other dog you run accross is
outwardly aggressive towards you, please keep clear and call the
authorities. If your dog is acted upon by rabies, your dog will not be in
control if his/her faculties. This means that it doesn't matter how much you
love each other, this dog is now an extreme danger to your life and you
need to keep yourself protected. For all intents and purposes, the dog you
knew and loved is already gone.
Rabies is transmitted when an infected animal bites an unaffected one.
Skunks, racoons, foxes, coyotes and bats are the animals most likely to be
infected with this fatal disease. This virus does not live long outside the body
so it is highly unlikely it will be transmitted through contact with a carcass
over twenty four hours old. Rabies is present in extreme density in saliva;
however being bitten by a rabid animal does not necessarily mean the human
or animal will become infected. It is speculated that only fifteen percent of
those exposed ever contract the disease. For more information on rabies,
click on our Dog Diseases link.