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12345 asked in PetsDogs · 9 years ago

More questions on human vs dog aggression?

First, Happy Thanksgiving Weekend to all the Canadian DSer's.

Going off of this question -


Maybe I am not understanding because I am not clear on what constitutes human aggression.

What is human aggression in a dog?

I have always believed that ANY dog will bite, given the right circumstances. The threshold at which point the dog will bite is the difference. Obviously biting out of pain is not human aggression.

At what point is a dog considered human aggressive? Or are they ever?

Is a dog aggressive dog a concern to bite a human?


Please answer all questions, including dog aggression leading to human aggression.

Update 2:

@Kate - you put any dog in the right situation and they will bite. All animals have the basic instinct to fight or flight. Take away the flight option and the dog will bite. It may be an extreme situation, but any dog will bite.

Dogs bite because they were abused is complete BS.

I know dogs that have been raised since puppyhood, treated well and still bite.

Temperament is genetic.

Update 3:

Read the question linked and answers. It may help to clarify what I am asking.

Update 4:

Elaine - straining on the leash, growling and barking is not necessarily human aggression. It could very well be fear aggression.

I am not sure if I believe resource guarding is necessarily human aggression, even if they bite.

Update 5:

No TDs are from me.

Just to clarify, this is not a breed specific question either.

Update 6:

@ Curtis - I think I overstated the genetic thing. What I meant was saying that the ONLY reason a dog will bite was because it was abused is BS.

@ Greek - I think the problem is I was looking at human aggression inthe non-trained form. I understand (somewhat) how training a dog to bite a human. I was more thinking of it in terms of your average dog becoming aggressive.

Thanks for the answers so far.

18 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    Not to drink the Kool-Aid Debunker is sipping on but Greek is right. Drive is drive.

    If you can get a dog (pitbull) to fight and kill (or die) in an illegal dog fighting operation but can't get him to bite a man you shouldn't be training protection dogs.

    If you have a dog who'll bite a man but couldn't take him hog hunting, you should be training catch dogs.

    Also you're right, all dogs bite. Which is why no one can pet my dogs.

    It's a mixture of nature, nurture, and circumstance. A genetically weak dog can bite for any number of reasons. A genetically stable dog could very well become aggressive through abuse. You take a good, smart kid, and drop him off with a crack**** mother who beats him and is never there and a deadbeat dad he's never met and you wouldn't be surprised when he turned out to be a gang member. Same thing goes here. You can take an awesome puppy and have an idiot ruin him. Aggression can be learned, believe me, I teach it! Most working line GSDs wouldn't bite at a flea if not trained to do otherwise...dogs with solid nerves aren't aggressive unless taught to be either by good training, abuse, or neglect. And by neglect I mean the failure to nip issues in the bud before they become severe. By allowing behavior, you are indeed TRAINING the dog to do the aforementioned behavior whether it be bad manners such as jumping up, or something dangerous such as growling at you/your kids.

    If I were to define human aggression I'd define it as: A dog who will bite a non-threatening human when other clear options are present. For example...if a dog in a neighborhood off leash bites you in the butt...he's human aggression. You weren't bothering him, he had many avenues of escape. He bite you anyway on his own accord. Now if there was a dog who wouldn't bite you in the same circumstance, but would bite you if you were a groomer and pushing and pulling on him, I don't consider him human aggressive, I consider him a weaker nerved dog who felt he had no other choice since his avenues of escape were cut off. Dogs who project social aggression/and/or fighting drive onto humans are also dogs who could be considered human aggressive. A dog acting out of true prey drive could also be seen as human aggressive if they bit a man, as well as defense drive (defense can present itself even if there are avenues of escape ie a dog who bites then when confronted they run circles barking at you).

    Can dog aggression translate into human aggression? Absolutely. Is a dog aggressive dog a higher risk for human aggression? Not at all. All squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares type of deal. I had a nasty GSD...very quick on the trigger...a dog I had to watch carefully around strangers. My kitten and my little 45-50lbs female Pitbull used to kick his butt every day and he never so much as growled. And of course there are some very dog aggressive dogs used for dog fighting who've never even thought about biting a man...and then there's dogs who're aggressive to both or neither. I don't think being one or the other "increases" a dog's chances of becoming the other. But I will say I think a dog aggressive dog is more likely to bite a human being than a dog with no aggression to either dogs or humans simply because of the risk of an accidental bite aka redirection.

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Kaper, as I have stated many times in here, there is not a specific gene or drive that can be labeled human aggression. Human aggression is the result of several drives that when they come together, can bring about aggression that is focused on a human target, but, for that to happen and for exclusion of all other issues that may make a dog human and animal and whatever aggressive, we must start with a dog that is stable in the head and for this question we are not going to include "some other issues" that some dogs possess.

    You start with a dog that is balanced in prey, defense and civility and you work on the first dive til the dog learns that gripping and fighting a human adversary CAN be a good thing, even fun.

    You add the defense drive into it when the dog is mature enough to be able to handle it and put some seriousness into the fun of prey biting and then you take advantage of the dog's genetic civil drive and if you do your job right, you end up with a dog that is willing to engage a helper/subject.

    What you have here is a conditioned response, the dog has been taught that fighting a human can be rewarding and learns to enjoy it, if its properly trained.

    A dog acting on pure aggression on its own, especially at a young age, I would be very suspicious of. There is a fine line between aggression and fear aggression, for example, and that line can get really blurry when other fear or insecurity or environmental issues come in and only someone with a lot of experience with dogs will be able to tell...hopefully!!

    This is a really deep subject that can be talked at great lengths here and involve many different answers and explanations and points of view, but, this is as general as it will get in here!

    Its a great question, we can talk about it sometime when you have a chance, hope I helped!!

    Source(s): Realist
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  • 4 years ago

    Find what motivates your dog. Some dogs do anything for food. Some dogs do anything for Toys. Some do anything for a good petting. Some do anything for only one type of food, like cheese, or hotdog. Some only have interest in training for 5 minutes at a time, and others can go for an hour. Figure out what your dog is willing to work for, and then work with her in sessions that are no longer than she can tolerate. How to train your dog properly https://tr.im/tp2Ok

    Sign up for a dog obedience training class. It will not train your dog. It will give you training on how you can train your dog. Most people understand the idea of training, but there is a right and a wrong way to do it, and there is good and bad technique. Timing and consistency is very important, and it helps to have feedback of someone watching you who can help you improve your technique to get more efficient results with your dog.

    However, she may be somewhat anxious around other dogs, sort of like the shy kid on the playground. She will benefit from continuing what you are doing as far as asking her to sit before entering, but there are more things along those lines that will help her to calmly go in and out of the dog park. She may also benefit from going in short bursts, or only when fewer dogs are present, or avoiding times when other dogs that make her nervous are present. Maybe she just plays loud - my brother's dog is this way - or maybe she is a dogpark bully - sorry it is possible. But more likely she is just a little anxious around new dogs and she wants to play but just doesn't quite know how to do that and still feel comfortable. Don't be surprised if your dog does not actually like the dog park, and maybe she would get more enjoyment and less stress out of simply going for a good walk somewhere else.

    A wagging tail does not mean that your dog is happy or even comfortable with the situation. It means your dog is emotionally aroused. This could be a happy arousal, or it could be a nervous arousal, or it could be an aggressive arousal. Go youtube it, there are plenty of videos of 'vicious' dogs who are throwing a very aggressive fit of barking and snarling while their tail is wagging vigorously. Even police dogs who are not let off the leash to chase down a suspect can be lunging and barking and snarling, and their tails are still going.

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  • 9 years ago

    "human aggression" like all other types of "aggression" is far too loose a word. You can pretty much copy and paste my answer from the other question.

    True "aggression" in a dog is few and far between. What people often call aggression are generally simple survival behaviors (resource or territory guarding), pack behavior (self-preservation measures (the dog fears harm to itself, can also be caused by poor socialization), or prey drive. Sometimes the cause is poor genetics- weak nerves, resulting in a tendency to be nervous and fearful, and will produce self-preservation behavior far before a normal dog would bite. None of these constitute a dog who is actually aggressive- just untrained, unsocialized, genetically unsound, or drivey.

    Your average pet dog doesn't become aggressive- but take the case with a dog who guards toys, treats, or its favorite spot on the couch- the dog is poorly trained. it probably has a poor pack order in the home, and the dog does not understand that it isn't the alpha, and it doesn't understand that it needs to look to you for survival, not its instincts.

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  • 9 years ago

    I think true fear aggression and aggresion that stems from domainace assertion are two differnt animals, pardon the pun. In a training situtuation, I would normally deal with them differently.

    Dog aggression goes the same way, but many times in animals present with one or the other, and the aggresion does not cross over.

    I will have disputers, but it is my opinion that this is a partly genetic predisposion, part learned tendency, Which is why it can often be related to dogs, or people, and only rarely both. My eveidence is in many breeds, where somehow the dog just 'turns off' and fails to redirect, like with a very high drive, well bred malanios, or a very sporty, high drive terrier, that turns to jello when you pull him out of the hole--it goes against common sense that the dog would not redirect--but lo they do not--except with some individuals.

    It tells me that somewhere in this dog he is programmed to aggress in this certian situation, and not turn on his human handler....I can see where these tendencies can become skewed from poor breeding and handling at an early age, as well as the development of temperament into adulthood--hence you have dogs that ARE well socialized , but have problems with fear into maturity.

    And you must not forget the baiting dogs that have been originally bred to aggress toward other dogs, despite socializartion and training, it would take a lot to get me to trust a pit bull terrier or like breed with toys unattended. Countless trainers have been injured, mauled, or killed for forgetting, or ignoring and animal's nautre.

    EDIT: Kasper, don't forget that straining, growling and barking at the end of the lead MAY BE behaviour arising from frustration, and NEITHER fear or true aggression. Although these may be warning signs of problems if not handled appropriately, cannot be constitued as 'human aggression,' or really even aggresssion of any sort being that they are not harming, or neccessarily intending to harm.

    PIPER: Aggression can most certainly be learned. Some of the baddest dogs aggress because they have gotten away with it, and have developed power over their owners--kasper's article seems a good example, but that is hard to tell....

    Source(s): I currently have mulitple dogs in training with varying complaints form their owners regarding aggression, both towatd dogs and people. EDIT: many dogs come with 'aggression' because of precusory behaviour, but are not aggressive at all, just frustrated and not taught to deal with it.
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  • 5 years ago

    Honestly, an untrained dog can be a real pain - a risk to himself, his owner and to other people and animals. Owning an undisciplined dog may result to:

    - Destruction to your home

    - Social isolation

    - Accidents

    - Injuries

    - Legal claims against you

    - Stress to all concerned

    - The dog being unwanted

    Canines that always get their own way will believe that life revolves around them and for that reason they must be important. Since dogs are looking for controlling different resources than humans, their bid for power usually goes undetected until it’s too late. Obedience and house training your dog and ensuring he’s not raised to a top position inside the home will keep your relationship with him well-balanced in your favor, as it must be for satisfaction all round.

    If you want a free copy of my dog training ebook "how to housetrain any dog" just send me an email at dogtraining@goodtips.info

    I'll send you immediately the ebook (100% free) and some tips on how to live better with your dog.

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  • 9 years ago

    This is about Pit Bulls, but do CTRL+F and type in Human, it kind of helps out with a definition-


    I think Genes + Environment = The Dog's Temperament.

    Of course there has to be more details to see if it would be Human Aggressive is what it'd equal or not, but yeah.

    ETA: I think for a dog to be considered human aggressive depends on it's genes. If it's parents weren't handled enough, were fearful [Fearful Aggression will cause Fearful Genes, which is a supplement factor for H.Aggression, but NOT related to it, IMO] and weren't human-sound, they have bad temperaments and breeding two HA dogs creates Human Aggressive pups. Not immediately, but over time. So, they're Human Aggressive cause it's pedigree wasn't sound-stable.

    Dog Aggressive Dogs can and will bite humans given circumstances [like you said]. I just think HA Dogs are much more likely, and less stable for tolerance.

    BUT, Dog Aggression can't lead to direct Human Aggression, cause it doesn't work like that. Can D.A dogs show H.A behaviour? Perhaps, in certain circumstances, but Human Aggression is recieved over time, not immediately, so it would NOT be "categorized" as H.Aggression, just a dog that isn't well-trained.

    I think my overall definition for Human Aggression is a dog who doesn't have sound genes towards humans due to genetics and breeding.

    ETA: Just found this article and started skimming it, take a look-


    ETA: Resource Guarding is Possession Aggression, it's a Dominance-Related Aggression Issue.

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  • 9 years ago

    When the dog is a puppy, they are more likely to bite for any reason, whether they're mad, jealous, guarding, or just cuirous, and the reason is because at this age they don't know any better. If you teach the dog it is wrong, and punish them for doing so, it should stop the behavior. If you encourage the dog to bite, it will continue to do so.

    Pit bulls are a misunderstood breed, and though for the past thirty fourty years they have been placed in the wrong hands and in bad situations, so some of them tend to be people aggressive. The old school fighting lines, like Jeep, are not people aggressive because you cannot handle a dog in the pit, get it ready to attack the oponent, then turn around and attack you or the other handler.

    Look at it this way: Certain dog breeds have been bred to be aggressive towards certain animals. Some dogs are bred to be aggressive toward smaller animals, like coons and rabbits, and that's where we get our hunting dogs. Some are bred to be aggressive towards other dogs, and that's where you get fighting dogs. Dogs that are aggressive against people are simply, to them, being aggressive towards another animal. When dog breeds are first made, people look at them not only based on appearance, but on performance and mentality. But a lot of dogs that are bred for the way they look, their mentality is ignored, and that is why some dogs behave the way they behave. That's why dalmations are on the top ten list of aggressive dog breeds.

    Agression, like all other behavior, is genetic. You can work with a dog that is people aggressive by nature and turn it around. And you can work with a kind loving dog and make them a monster. It takes training and consistancy.

    When it comes to life experiences, dogs personalities differ. Abused dogs tend to be shy, submissive, and are afraid of everything. But there are certain moves you do with dogs that make them aggressive. Wips are used for aggitation training for police dogs.

    People aggression starts with genes. But dogs, no matter the breed, will never fail to surprise you. They do choose whether to attack something or not.

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  • 9 years ago

    Without reading too far into this, the answer your asking lies in "fight drive". Fight drive is a genetic drive as well as a learned drive. The more the dog pushes and wins, the more confidence he builds. Until eventually he is willing to fight a human regardless of any circumstances. (not biting out of pain). The dog must possess a genetic gene for this drive in order for it to come out. So yes dogs can be human aggressive but it is merely a "fight drive".

    Yes a dog aggressive dog is a concern to bite a human! It happens all the time. It is called "re-directed aggression". I'm walking my "dog aggressive dog" on the leash and they see another dog which flips the aggression switch and my dog tries to go after them but can't and bites the next thing to them without provocation. (this could be me or another dog as well. Even if they are part of the pack.). Dogs learn very quickly that they can control situations with their aggression. Once they learn it, then I guess you'd say they are human aggressive, because they are not afraid to strike.

    Source(s): Bay Area Family K9 Trianing
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  • 9 years ago

    What is human aggression in a dog?

    Aggression directed towards a human... obvious i know but becomes a lot harder to explain when thinking of all the factors involved in it. I can say what i think it ISN'T, i don't think it is when a dog has been pushed beyond their limits and bites and i don't think it is when you take a toy away from a dog and it attacks.

    Aggression is already in every dogs genetic make-up. The potential is in every dog to be aggressive and whether or not it does and what the target is depends on a lot of things.

    Like you have dogs classed as human aggressive, animal aggressive and aggressive due to weak nerves.

    Weak nerved aggressive dogs will have the potential to attack anything, whether human or animal, the only thing needed is for that dog to perceive something as threatening to its wellbeing. Due to its wiring, aggression is their first reaction against any threat.

    If you take the weak nerved dogs out of the equation, what i think you are left with is just aggression in a stable dog. It can be directed to animals through selective breeding of the dogs that show animal aggression but this can also be channeled to humans through proper training and drive manipulation.

    Although i have heard a very valid and educated viewpoint from above that stated, how stable can a dog really be if you are able to go against its natural instincts to not attack humans...

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