OWNER-DIRECTED (formally known as Dominance Aggression)

The most common and complex of category of dog aggression. “Dominance” aggression is somewhat misnamed, as it is about the concept of control. Truly “alpha” and confident dogs are usually quite tolerant of subservient members of the pack. A dominant or pushy dog does not mean it is or will be aggressive.

Indications: growling, lifting a lip, snarling, snapping or biting directed primarily at family members or people (see Dog-On-Dog aggression in Types of dog aggression) with whom the dog is familiar. The dog usually has conflicts with who the dog regardes being mostly closely ranked to him or her. It is both inherited and learned.

Approximately 1 in 5 aggression problems brought to a veterinarian had been thought to be dominance related. [1] Generally the belief has been that the posture of aggression is a self confident one opposed to a submissive one (fear aggression). It tends to be in response to competitive contexts, dominant-appearing postures or interaction by the owner. However, dogs might be divided into two groups – those that know they are in control (less common) and those that are unsure of their social role and use aggressive behaviors to determine what is expected of them (more common).

Dominance aggression is the dog’s problem and not caused by the response of the owner, although the owner could inadvertently encourage the inappropriate behavior to develop.

An association between territorial aggression and dominance-related aggression has been reported.[2]

Things that could set off the dog:

  1. Attempting to dominate the dog (staring at, punishing, etc.,)
  2. Disturbing the dog while resting
  3. Approaching while the dog is eating, playing with or near a valued resource or object, reaching for
  4. Handling/touching the dog

**Aggression categories compiled from:

Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals, Karen L. Overall, M.A., V.M.D., Ph.D. Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behavior, Department of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Pennsylvania, Mosby, Inc. 1997

The Dog Who Loved Too Much: Tales, Treatments, and the Psychology of Dogs, Dr. Nicolas Dodman, BVMS, MRCVS, Bantom Books, 1997

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[1] The Dog Who Loved Too Much: Tales, Treatments, and the Psychology of Dogs, Dr. Nicolas Dodman, BVMS, MRCVS, Bantom Books, 1997

[2]Canine Aggression: Neurobiology, Behavior and Management, Ilana R. Reisner, DVM, Phd, DACVB, Orgiginally posted on :http://www.vetshow.com/friskies/cani.htm


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