Having an aggressive dog can be a scary thing and I have been in the company of many.  Not all dogs that may appear aggressive, actually are aggressive. In many cases it is a matter of over-excitement or fear in the dog. A dog may see another dog and become aroused wanting to go to them. Sometimes this can seem like aggressive behavior because of the barking and pulling that takes place.

I met someone recently with a 7 month old golden doddle while I was on a walk in the Lehigh Valley.  As we talked briefly he mentioned something about his dogs’ aggression. Clearly this dog was a pretty typical 7 month old adolescent, he was large and easily excitable. He was pulling to get to my dogs and the owner was having a tough time controlling him. He was not barking but just wanted to get to me and my dogs. This young pup just needed some leash manners and training, it was not aggression. The intent on getting to me and my dogs and doing harm was clearly not the intention at all.  That is not to say an over excited dog cannot do some serious damage, because they can. They can pull the handlers down or jump on them out of excitement. They can at times redirect their excitement and frustration on to the handler, biting at their hands or leash. This is still not aggression. However, you do want to get this over excitement under control because in times like this, the dogs behavior can lead to bigger issues. A dog approaching another in this extreme state of excitement can often lead to a fight that really shouldn’t have happened. Not all dogs are going to be tolerant of your over excited dog, it doesn’t matter how friendly you say they are. One of my own dogs does not like when a strange dog comes rushing up to her unexpectedly and sticking their face in hers.  An loose overexcited dog has left a permanent memory on her.

If your dog is showing signs of the above behavior mentioned, you need to address your dog’s excitement through training and proper leash manners. Teaching a proper heel and come when called will help to establish rules and boundaries for your dog on a walk, creating a calmer dog.

Now if you think your dog is aggressive then you should have them professionally evaluated.  A truly aggressive dog can be a threat to other dogs, humans or sometimes both. When your dog is barking, are they rushing towards the dog or person or barking and moving backwards? These can be symptoms of serious issues. Excitement or aggression are both issues that need to be addressed but understand they are different.