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Why is my dog aggressive?

Updated: Jan 17, 2023

This is a question that has haunted countless desperate and frustrated dog owners. How did this thing happen?? Let me answer the question quickly and succinctly, instead of stretching it out like some cookbook website that goes on and on about summers on the beach while you sit starving, wondering how to make that 10,000 layer dip.

In essence, it's a trust problem.

Let me explain:

The relationships we have with our dogs are much like the relationships we have with other humans. They are based on love, trust, and respect. And if there's a deficiency in any one of those three departments, particular issues tend to surface.

Love Problems

So if you have a love problem, the dog just doesn't come around. Much like a teenager, or sasquatch. You get one picture of them every few years, it's always blurry and you wonder if they're real? lol

Respect Problems

This just means your dog doesn't take you or your rules seriously enough to listen. This, at the extreme, can also create aggression, but it's a lot less common. Ordinarily it's not a "manacle" issue, by any means. These dogs are most of the time labeled "dopey". But this particular relationship Issue will cause a dog to pull a lot on the leash, jump on company, bark in inappropriate moments (out of excitement, not fear), steal food, etc. A dog with respect issues commonly is described as over excited or having no self-control, or just being really "rambunctious".

Trust Problems

THIS is what creates aggression, most of the time. A dog who, in short, just doesn't believe mom or dad will handle what makes them nervous, so by default, the job falls to the dog. This wouldn't be an issue if the dog had good judgement, though! If your dog were just barking at those who chose to bang on your door at 3 a.m. it wouldn't be an issue! But the aggression shows us the dog doesn't have the best judgement.

"My dog trusts me! They actually only act this way when i'm gone!"
"My dog is comfortable with me and never acts this way toward me!"

I get that, and those are valid points but here are the two things I would say:

1. There are two layers of trust. The first layer is a dog evaluating whether the owner will directly be a threat to their safety. That layer it sounds like you're probably doing well on, if you thought the above! But the second layer is a dog discerning whether you can/will protect them/yourself against those who WILL try to hurt them.

2. Your dog should trust you so deeply that they understand you would never leave them in an unsafe place, without you. If you left, that should be the evidence that the environment is safe. But if your dog becomes aggressive when you're not around, their trust is imperfect in that they assume this role the moment you leave because they're convinced you may not be aware of the danger, etc.

Trust issues can create a lot of things:

Separation anxiety



Kennel Anxiety

and a lot more.

To fix these problems we certainly will go through exercises that are designed for those specific behaviors but if you don't fix the relationship issue, it will surface again because the aggression didn't create itself, trust issues did.


You're in luck, this is what we do! Schedule a quick and free no-obligation strategy session. We can help you identify where you are, how you got there, and help you establish a proven way forward!

Or just get my book for $3!

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