Nothing is more terrifying or confusing for a pet owner than when your typically easy-going and friendly pet suddenly attacks another animal, child, or you. The answer to why your pet has suddenly become aggressive isn’t always clear. In any case, if your pet exhibits acts of aggressiveness, it is imperative that you address it before it becomes a habit.
Why Has My Dog Become Aggressive?
There are obvious reasons your dog has decided to act aggressively. Fear is a main catalyst of aggression in dogs. Your dog may behave aggressively if he feels he is in danger and must defend himself. It is important not to put your dog in situations where he feels he is being backed into a corner, so to speak, with no means of escape.
Dogs also show aggression, especially with other dogs, if they are trying to establish dominance. Dogs that growl, bark, or bite other pups want to feel that they are in charge and do not want that dominance challenged by another animal. Training is key to correct this behavior, especially if your dog tries to establish dominance over you.
An underlying illness is a less obvious cause of aggression in dogs. Your dog may suddenly begin to growl, snap, or bite at you when he is in pain. If your mild-mannered dog suddenly exhibits this type of behavior, a trip to the veterinarian is necessary.
Dogs also act aggressively when they are frustrated. For example, if your dog is tied up in the yard and see something of interest that he cannot get it, he will strain himself trying to get to it, barking and growling when all his attempts fail. When you come to bring him inside, he may even take that frustration out on you. This “redirected aggression” is usually seen in dogs who are tied up a lot, retrained, or kept in cages, so it’s best to give your dog as much freedom as allowable.
Why Has My Cat Become Aggressive?
Like dogs, cats don’t just suddenly go crazy. Frustration, fear, and pain are all likely causes for cat aggression as well. Additionally, underlying health issues can cause your cat to be in pain, grouchy, or confused, which increases the likelihood for aggressive behavior.
Stress is a leading cause of aggression in cats. They are extremely sensitive to the environment, and if their surroundings change (from changing houses to adding another cat to the family) this can cause a lot of anxiety.
Cats tend to act out when stressed, so it’s best to keep things as consistent as possible in the home. If surroundings must change, be sure to do your research on how to make these changes as seamless as possible for your cat to reduce stress.