Is Your Dog Aggressive? Signs of Excessive Aggression in Dogs

A dog that is aggressive can have a certain behavior that will keep a lot of people and other pets away. Knowing these signs can help you establish if the dog needs behavioral training, extra socializing or other types of help (i.e. medication). The aggression can be specific for the dog’s breed or personality but may also occur as a consequence of a medical problem that causes pain and discomfort, making the dog irritable and aggressive.

Excessive Barking

Excessive barking is a behavior that may indicate either that the dog is overly excited or that he is about to become aggressive. You can differentiate between the 2 behaviors judging by the circumstances and the dog’s body language and posture.


Biting is the most severe manifestation of canine aggression.

The dog may bite after having barked or simply with no other warning signs.

If you or someone else gets bitten by your dog, it is important to get a rabies vaccine and clean the wound thoroughly.

Digging and Chewing

Even if digging and chewing may be considered a sign of boredom and lack of training, they may also be indicative that the dog has aggressive tendencies.

The dog can convulsively bite, dig and chew in and around the house.

If this behavior cannot be corrected by exercising the dog more and feeding him only the amounts of food he needs, the behavior can be a sign of aggression.

Body Language

The dogs may have a certain body posture that will precede episodes of aggression.

The dog may have a lowered head with the ears flat when he is about to become aggressive. These signs are similar to the dog’s posture when he is afraid of something. However, when aggressive, the dog may also raise his hackles and pull back his lips before attacking, so this can help you differentiate between fear and aggression.


Growling and a number of other sounds may indicate the dog is about to become aggressive. These are signs that shouldn’t be ignored, as otherwise, the dog can act on his instinct and attack other pets or people.

Refusal to Obey

If a dog is overly aggressive, he won’t obey your commands and may often turn his aggression towards you, if you stand in the way of the objects of his aggression.

Dealing with Aggression

Dog aggression can be an instinctive response to diverse stimuli and some dog breeds can be more aggressive than others.

However, through behavioral training and proper socialization with other pets and humans, the dog’s aggression can be controlled.

If the aggression occurs suddenly and your dog is not usually an aggressive dog, you may suspect he is affected by a medical condition and should take him for a veterinary checkup. Aggression can be triggered by pain and if the medical condition is solved, the dog will no longer be aggressive.