top of page

Aggressive Behavior

I want to touch basis on Aggression this month. I get more calls about this issue from owners frustrated and want me to help re-home their dog or ones who have bought from other breeders. Shih Tzus are not known to be aggressive but once in a while we will come across one that does. The term “aggression” can refer to a wide variety of behaviors that can occur for a multiple of reasons for different types of circumstances. In the wild, dogs can be aggressive for many reasons such as guarding their territories, defending their offspring and protecting themselves. Pack animals like dogs can also use aggression and the threat of aggression to keep the peace and to negotiate social interactions.

“Aggressive” can mean different things. Aggression can be a range of different behaviors. Usually aggressive behavior starts with warnings and can escalate into an attack. A dog that shows aggression to people will usually show some of the behaviors below and will increase with intensity, if not corrected early:

  • 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)

  • Growl

  • Showing Teeth

  • Snarl / growling while showing teeth

  • Snapping

  • Quick nip that leaves no mark

  • Quick bite that tears the skin

  • Bite with enough pressure to cause a bruise

  • Bite that leaves punctures

  • Repeated bites in rapid succession

  • Bite and shake

Dogs don’t always follow all these behaviors or in this order.However, most owners don’t recognize the warning signs and think that their dog has gone off the deep end, out of nowhere.This isn’t the case. Dogs almost never bite without giving some type of warning behavior. It can be just milliseconds between a warning and a bite, but dogs rarely bite without giving some type of warning beforehand.

Finding Out Why?

If your dog is being aggressive or looks like they are going to become aggressive remove them from the situation.

If your dog has been aggressive in the past, take time to evaluate the situations that have upset them.