If you have a dog that shows aggression, it can be a frustrating and sometimes embarrassing situation. While you may be confident that your dog won’t hurt anyone, some people may be afraid and it is hard when people avoid you and your dog. After all, your dog is family, and we are protective of our family members and what people think about them. But what if there was something out there that may be able to help with some aggression?
First of all, what does aggression look like?
Aggression refers to a variety of behaviors that can happen for a lot of different reasons and circumstances. Usually aggression includes a range of behaviors that usually begin with warnings and can eventually lead to an attack. According to the ASPCA, a dog that shows aggression towards humans can exhibit these behaviors in an increasingly intense sequence:
- Becoming very still and rigid
- Guttural bark that sounds threatening
- Lunging forward or charging at the person with no contact
- Mouthing, as though to move or control the person, without applying significant pressure
- “Muzzle punch” (the dog literally punches the person with her nose)
- Showing teeth
- Snarl (a combination of growling and showing teeth)
- Quick nip that leaves no mark
- Quick bite that tears the skin
- Bite with enough pressure to cause a bruise
- Bite that causes puncture wounds
- Repeated bites in rapid succession
- Bite and shake
Dogs won’t always follow this sequence, and sometimes they do these behaviors at the same time. As a pet owner, it is so important to recognize these warning signs as they are happening. The timeline between a warning and a bite can be as small as a few seconds but a dog will rarely bite without giving some sort of warning beforehand.
Why do dogs get aggressive?
Dogs can be aggressive for a multitude of reasons. The most common ones are protecting their territory, protecting their young, and protecting themselves, but there are certainly more reasons why dogs can show aggressive behavior.
- Possessive – tendency to guard their possessions from others
- Fear – a fearful dog may become aggressive if cornered or trapped, or feel threatened by a person/situation (especially if ever neglected, abused, etc.)
- Defensive – motivation by fear, deciding that the best defense is a good offense
- Social – A dog who perceives herself as high in status may show aggression toward family members
- Frustrated – A dog who’s excited by something but is held back from approaching it
- Redirected – when a dog is aroused by or displays aggression toward a person or animal, and someone else interferes
- Pain – An otherwise gentle, friendly dog can behave aggressively when in pain.
- Mating – Intact male dogs will still vie for the attention of females in heat, and females will still compete for access to a male
- Predatory – Some pet dogs show classic canine predatory behaviors, including chasing and grabbing fast-moving things
Because there are so many things that can cause aggression, it is so important to be mindful of your surroundings and your dog’s (and other dog’s) warning signs. This is true for all dogs, but especially for rescue dogs. When you rescue a dog, often times their past is unknown and not always good. Some dogs may be afraid of men, certain types of places, etc. and knowing their warning signs can be crucial.
Should I talk to a veterinarian, trainer or behaviorist?
Before searching out a trainer or behaviorist, it is recommended to go see your veterinarian first. Your dog can be showing aggressive behavior because of a medical condition or complication. Your dog could be in pain, losing his memory, have medication side effects, or even need to change his diet, all of which can lead to aggression. After ruling out any medical cause of aggression, then it can definitely help to consult with a trainer or behaviorist. You can find out more about certified applied animal behaviorists, veterinary behaviorists or certified professional dog trainers here. A qualified professional can help develop a treatment plan customized to your dog and your family, help you implement that treatment plan, and make any changes if necessary.
How CBD may be able to help
Aggression can be caused by a multitude of reasons, like mentioned previously. Because of that, PCR-Rich hemp oil (CBD oil) may or may not be able to help, depending on the cause/reason. CBD interacts directly with your dog’s (and all mammals) endocannabinoid system. The endocanninoid system helps fine-tune most of our vital physiological functions. It promotes homeostasis affecting everything from sleep, appetite, pain, inflammation, memory, mood, and even reproduction.
If you think your dog is being aggressive because he is in pain, CBD oil may be able to help! CBD binds to your dog’s CB2 receptors (in his endocannbinoid system), which are located throughout the body and play a significant role our immune systems, aka regulating pain and inflammation.
CBD oil has also been shown to help with anxiety. If your dog is showing possessive, social or fear-driven aggression, calming their anxiety may help. During a recent study, it was found that CBD appears to activate other receptors outside CB1 & CB2, including 5HT1A and TRPV1, both of which are involved in reducing anxiety and mitigating panic/fear responses to stress. If your dog is stressed or scared in situations that can’t always be avoided, CBD oil may be a great way to help calm his nerves and fear.
Due to CBD’s direct effect on your dog’s endocannabinoid system, the benefits your dog can experience are exponential. By creating homeostasis in your dog’s body, your dog may feel less likely to act out aggressively if he is suffering with pain, stress, or anxiety. On top of that, your dog may experience other amazing health benefits.
At the end of the day, finding an approach to help your dog with aggression is most likely going to be comprised of a combination of different methods. First, know the warning signs and take time to evaluate the situations that have upset your dog. Next, talk to your veterinarian to make sure your dog’s aggression isn’t caused by a medical reason. Follow with consulting with a trainer or behaviorist. Finally, think about adding in a natural supplement, such as CBD oil, to help your dog achieve homeostasis in their body and reduce pain, stress or anxiety.