Why does my dog get aggressive with other dogs?

Dr. Jerry Klein is Chief Veterinary Officer of the American Kennel Club, and has nearly 40 years of experience in the veterinary field.

Fox5 went to Dr. Klein with common questions from dog owners, and here’s what he told us:

Q: Why does my dog get aggressive with other dogs?

A: Generally, inter-dog aggression is more of a problem between dogs of the SAME gender.

Inter-dog aggression occurs much more frequently in non-neutered male dogs but can also be seen in female dogs as well. Signs usually start appearing when the dog reaches puberty (between six and nine months old) or becomes socially mature at 18 to 36 months.

The causes of dog aggression can vary. A dog may have become overly aggressive because of its past experiences, such as past abuse, poor socialization at formative stages, neglect with other dogs as a puppy, or it may have had a traumatic encounter with another dog.  Fear and insecurity can also manifest into aggressive behavior as well. Protecting territory and social status, or sometimes, a painful medical condition can all possibly cause a dog to act aggressively. Finally, an owner's behavior (consciously or subconsciously) may also influence a manifestation of aggression.

Due to the various causes and the potentially dangerous results of aggression, it is always recommended to discuss temperament issues with a veterinarian right away.  If needed, a certified veterinarian behavioralist may be indicated.


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WNYW-TV/Fox5 is a media partner of the American Kennel Club