Why Is My Dog Aggressive To Other Dogs?

Recently I had several people send me e-mails asking why their dogs appeared to be aggressive around other dogs.  There are several reasons why this can happen.  Here are some of the most common reasons.

Lack of socialization with other dogs.

In some cases a dog may act aggressively around other dogs because it has not been properly socialized around other dogs.  Dogs have an etiquette or way of behaving with each other that they learn from the time they are puppies.  If your dog has not spent much time around other dogs then he may not know the correct way to behave around other dogs.  He may not read canine body language well or he may think other dogs are being aggressive or offensive when they’re not. This is a common problem with dogs that aren’t well-socialized when they’re young.  The period of socialization is from birth to 20 weeks.

A fearful dog trying to keep another dog away.

If your dog has a timid or fearful temperament then he could become aggressive around other dogs to try to keep them away.  It doesn’t matter how big or imposing he is, he might feel scared when he meets some new dog.  This could make him feel like he has to show some aggression to try to scare the other dog away.  Fearful dogs are sometimes more prone to biting people, too.

An untrained, poorly behaved dog that needs to learn manners.


In some cases a dog can behave aggressively because he is untrained and doesn’t have any manners. He may be young, for example, and lunges at every dog he sees.  He hasn’t been taught that this is not proper behavior.



A dog that feels it needs to protect the owner from other dogs.


Some dogs behave aggressively because they think they need to protect their owners from other dogs.  Some breeds are more protective than others but this is not good behavior.  The dog needs to learn that, unless the situation calls for real protection, he should not behave aggressively.


In all of these cases, training and socialization can help the dog overcome the problem with inappropriate aggression.

With some proper training your dog can learn how to be around other dogs without looking like Cujo the killer dog.  Your dog can learn good manners, how to interact properly with other dogs and how to be calm and relaxed when meeting other dogs.  Good training can teach your dog that he doesn’t need to react with aggression when he encounters other dogs.

Mark Mansfield

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