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My Dog Is Aggressive Towards Me But Not My Husband 

Exploring the Mystery: Why Is My Female Dog Being Aggressive All Of A Sudden?"

Many factors can contribute to sudden changes in a dog’s behavior. Health issues, fear, territorial instincts, and past trauma are common triggers. Pet owners often wonder, “Why is my female dog being aggressive all of a sudden?” Addressing the root cause promptly is essential for the dog’s well-being.

12 Reasons Why Your Female Dog Is Aggressive All Of A Sudden

Understanding why a female dog is suddenly aggressive can perplex pet owners.  Below highlights the most probable cause. Readers are encouraged to explore the details provided below for a comprehensive overview of other potential triggers.

"Decoding Behavior: Why Is My Dog Aggressive Towards Me But Not My Husband?"

It can be confusing when a dog acts aggressive towards one person but not another. If you’re wondering, “Why is my dog aggressive towards me but not my husband?”, there could be many reasons. Past experiences, habits, or how they see different family members can play a role. Figuring out the cause can help solve the problem.

"Reasons Why a Dog Shows Aggression to Me But Not to Others"

Addressing the query, “why is my dog aggressive towards me but not my husband?” can confound pet owners. Below, we pinpoint the most likely explanation. Readers can peruse the additional details provided for a broader understanding of possible causes.

5 Behavioral Causes Of Aggression

FAQ Section

Sudden Aggression In Play

Understanding the nuances of canine play is essential for dog owners who want to ensure their pets are engaging in healthy, safe interactions. Proper play behavior involves a series of signals and activities that are generally well-coordinated between dogs, like play bows, taking turns in chasing, and gentle mouthing. If you observe these behaviors, you can generally conclude that your dog didn’t become suddenly aggressive, but rather is partaking in normal, appropriate play.

  1. Play Bow: A universal dog play invitation where the front half is lowered, and the rear stays up.
  2. Chase: Dogs love chasing each other, often taking turns in who leads and who follows.
  3. Mouthing: Gentle mouthing or nibbling without hard biting is common during play.
  4. Tug-of-War: Many dogs enjoy a friendly game of tug with toys.
  5. Wrestling: Dogs may grapple, roll around, and pin each other in playful bouts.
  6. Zoomies: These are energetic, often circular sprints showing excitement.
  7. Barking: Some vocal dogs may bark during play.
  8. Pouncing: Often seen in puppies, this mimics hunting behavior.
  9. Tail Wagging: A relaxed wag often signals a playful mood.
  10. Body Bumping: Dogs may joyfully bump into each other.
  11. Fake Biting: Playful snaps or gentle bites without real pressure.
  12. Spinning: Twirling or spinning around in playful excitement.
  13. Play Growling: A deeper yet non-threatening vocalization during play.
  14. Taking Turns: Dogs often switch roles during play – for instance, being the chaser and then the chased.
  1. Excessive Mouthing: Gentle mouthing is natural, but hard biting or continuous targeting is inappropriate.
  2. Snarling or Serious Growling: A deeper, more menacing growl can signal potential aggression, unlike playful growling.
  3. Pinning: Continually pinning another dog without reciprocation can indicate dominance.
  4. Non-stop Chasing: Persistent chasing without role reversal might be bullying.
  5. Hair Raised: Raised hackles can signify heightened arousal or fear.
  6. Stiff Body Language: Rigidity or a stiff tail indicates potential discomfort or aggression.
  7. Guarding Toys: Aggressively guarding play items isn’t a positive play sign.
  8. Excessive Barking: Persistent or overly aggressive barking can suggest over-arousal.
  9. Targeting One Dog: Continual targeting of a single dog in a group setting can be bullying.
  10. Ignoring Play Cues: Overlooking signals from another dog to stop or pause indicates poor play etiquette.
  11. Nipping at Legs: Persistent nipping, especially causing discomfort, is inappropriate.
  12. Mounting: Excessive or targeted mounting can be inappropriate.
  13. Hard Stare: A prolonged, fixed gaze can be a prelude to aggression.
  14. Slow Tail Wag: A tail that is held high and wags slowly can be a sign of an alert or challenging state, unlike a relaxed wag.

What are the least aggressive dog breeds?

Many factors can influence whether a dog is likely to be aggressive or not. But statistically, some breeds are less likely to show aggression than others. Research carried out by James Serpell from the University of Pennsylvania found that the following breeds were the least aggressive towards both humans and other dogs:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • Bichon Frise
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Maltese
  • Beagle
  • Shih Tzu
  • Pug
  • Newfoundland
  • Boxer
  1. Rottweiler
  2. Pit Bull Terrier
  3. Doberman Pinscher
  4. German Shepherd
  5. Bullmastiff
  6. Husky
  7. Alaskan Malamute
  8. Chow Chow
  9. Great Dane
  10. Akita

Are Rescue Dogs Aggressive?

While trauma can undoubtedly play a role in a dog’s behavior, lack of proper socialization, especially during critical developmental periods, is a significant contributor to aggression or fear in many rescue dogs.

Can Puppies Be Aggressive?

Aggression is very rare in young pups, and when it’s present, it’s almost always connected with fear. When thinking about the reasons for the aggression, there are several potential causes:

A fear-aggressive puppy will usually attempt to back off or hide away, trying to avoid any contact. If they do growl, it will be done quietly to not draw any attention to themselves. A normal pup is the one who comes forward to make contact. They grab hold of your trousers as you walk past and growl loudly as the ‘tug game’ progresses across the room.  It’s important to know that this isn’t aggression, it’s normal puppy behavior.

Canine fear and aggression can have a genetic component. developments in gene research show us how how important to meet Mom, Dad and other close relatives before purchasing a pup. If they are fearful or nervous, then it may be an indicator that your puppy could also grow up with the same temperament.

When the pups’ mother is placed in a high-stress situation, it can result in the fetuses receiving cortisol to help prepare them for the stressful environment. However, this comes at a cost. That’s because once the pups are born, they are more likely to be both reactive and fearful.

Puppies that are rejected by their mothers tend to have a higher risk of developing behavior issues, including anxiety and fears. It’s important to know that this isn’t a certainty, but breeders and owners need to be aware of the risk. Then a plan can be put in place to ensure lots of positive experiences for the pups while they’re growing up.

There is a connection between the development of fear-related behaviors, including aggression, and where the puppy was raised, according to research carried out in 2002.  The researchers looked at pups that spent their first weeks in a home environment with a breeder and then, after vaccinations, experienced life with a family.  These youngsters had a much lower chance of developing fear-related behavior, including aggression towards strangers.  Sadly, for those dogs who had been reared in a non-home environment, such as a barn or shed, there was an increased likelihood of aggressive behavior when examined by a vet. Not every dog raised in a kennel environment will end up being aggressive. However, if you are looking to improve the odds of having a confident adult dog, it’s essential to find a great breeder.

What To Do With An Aggressive Dog That Bites

Managing a dog with a bite history requires careful consideration and expertise. An experienced canine behaviorist can evaluate your dog’s aggression and guide you on ensuring safety. They’ll assess the bite’s severity and the circumstances leading to the incident, so document all relevant details.

How About A Dog That Snaps?

Dogs use their teeth with precision, often conveying messages without causing harm. Before snapping as a warning, they typically exhibit subtle signs like yawning, lip licking, or blinking. However, if these cues are ignored or punished, a dog might escalate to snapping or even biting. Recognizing and understanding these signals is vital. If a dog snaps, it’s essential to identify and address the trigger positively, like using treats to encourage desired behavior rather than confrontationally.

Best Way To Handle Aggression In Dogs

It’s not easy having an aggressive dog. Others can be very judgmental, and that can just add to the difficulty of the situation. When your dog does react, it can be tempting to do something in return to get them to stop. This might be shouting, yanking on the leash, or hitting them. The problem is that when you do this, it just confirms to your dog that this situation needs an aggressive response.  Not only was the original trigger worrying enough to begin with, but now there’s also the physical discomfort and stress coming from the owner to deal with as well. Handling an aggressive dog is about avoiding trigger situations. If you find yourself in one, then it’s important to leave as calmly as possible.

Aggressive dog training

All dogs benefit from training; it opens the possibilities of where they can go and the experiences they can have. When the training is reward-based, using food and toys rather than punishment it’s also a great way of developing a strong positive relationship with your dog.  We’ve already mentioned that many aggressive dogs are actually very fearful. So, they become worried about what might happen if that other dog comes too close or if the person at the door comes into the home.  Training provides different options. This means that when you see another dog in the distance, you ask your dog to heel so that you can gain their focus and get out of the situation. When they’re heeling, they’re not lunging and growling at the end of the leash.  When a person stands at your gate, you can ask your dog to come to you, which removes the need to stand and bark.  Over time, some dogs show less aggression now that it’s not being practiced regularly and because they’ve been given something else to do instead of being aggressive. Even for those dogs who still need additional behavioral help, there are huge advantages to working with a well-trained dog. First of all, they are used to the training process and learning new behaviors. Then, they know how to be focused and show self-control. And most importantly, their owner understands how to be consistent, to be understanding of their dog, and help them be successful as often as possible, all essential skills for rehabilitating the aggressive dog.

Can an aggressive dog be cured?

There is no guarantee that an aggressive dog can be completely cured. Even when the dog has shown no sign of aggression for years, it’s possible for there to be a combination of circumstances that trigger the aggressive response. Maybe they have pain from an injury, and that then means a stressful vet visit. When they get home, and the delivery driver knocks at the door, it all proves to be too much, and the aggression reappears.  This means you must always be vigilant. You need to consider what the triggers for aggression are and then take steps to keep their dog from harm. Very often, owners take the approach of managing the situation so that the dog isn’t exposed to whatever causes the aggression. The problem with relying solely on management is that at some point, it breaks down. That might mean you forget to shut the door, and now the dog who is aggressive towards strangers is in the same room as the visitors. This might seem very doom and gloom, but even though many aggressive dogs can be helped, you need to be realistic in their expectations.

APPENDIX

Appendix 1: Desensitization Training

STEP 1: DISTANCE

You need opportunities for your dog to experience the trigger but in a diluted form. So rather than walking past the barking dogs house, you cross the street.  At this distance, your dog knows that they are there but they do not react. 

STEP 2: REWARD

Once your dog is no longer reacting to the trigger. Take one step closer towards it. If the dog begins to show signs of discomfort at the diluted form, reward. Keep practicing this until your dog is showing zero signs of reactivity. 

STEP 1: DISTANCE & REWARD

Over time the distance can be reduced while you ensure your dog remains calm. Treats will make the trigger more pleasant to be around. Treats allow you to increase distance gradually. If your dog becomes reactive at any point, you pushed too hard. Go back a step.  

Desensitization Tips For Why 'Sudden Aggression From Female Dogs'

1. Slow and steady wins the race

Slow and steady is the perfect way to describe the desensitization process. When I first started dating my husband I was cautious of his intention because of negative experiences I had in the past. Overtime, I gained confidence in our relationship and no longer overreacted when his phone died or when he forgot to text back. Previous “trauma”  sensitized me to those triggers.  Six years later I did not think twice when my husband went on a bachelor trip to Las Vegas. However, if that trip had occurred  1 month into our relationship I doubt I would have handled it well. Your dog is the same way, if you rush the desensitization process your dog will likely react because he/she is still unconvinced about how safe it is to be in that situation.

2. Variety is the spice of life

If your dog is aggressive only towards women with long blonde hair, there’s still a lot of variation in the blonde hair population. For your dog to know that all women with long blonde hair are safe to be around, they’ll need to be introduced to various people during the desensitization process. You will need to ask helpers to get creative with what they wear, how they walk, and even their body language to introduce that variety. In other words, its highly unlikely that your dog is just aggressive to you and not your husband. It is more probably they are aggressive to women with similar traits to yourself. 

3. Manage the environment

It’s essential you control your environment when desensitizing your dog.  This ensures that your dog has only neutral or positive experiences when near the trigger. Start the desensitization process in a safe space for your dog (i.e. house, certain room, under the bed). Unfortunately, too many times our environment only confirms our dogs behavior. There you are, twenty feet away from your helper and your dog, when suddenly an a high pitched scream comes from a young girl with long blonde hair.  Now your dog has even more evidence that people with this characteristic need to be told to go away.  The training needs to be called off until your dog has calmed down and you can regain control of the environment. 

Appendix 2: How To Fix Lack Of Trust

You need to build a relationship of trust with your dog. What a better way to do that than with food. It feels good to eat! Think about the co-worker who buys you lunch or brings you coffee. Those little interactions is what make or breaks relationships. The Treat & Retreat uses this concept on dogs because it links feel good feelings with the person dispensing the food.  We do this by offering our dog treats using the Treat & Retreat Method. 

STEP 1: TREAT & RETREAT

Every dog’s comfort bubble differs. This means that one dog may feel comfortable within 6ft or 2 meters of you while another dog becomes reactive at 12ft or 4 meters. Hand feeding assumes that the dogs comfort zone is practically zero.  For the majority of dogs who are aggressive to people, hand feeding is not going to work. Many times people recommend hand feeding to help with resource guarding. However, aggression is different. Hand feeding makes an aggressive dog stressed. 

Since hand feeding has a buffer zone of zero the dog becomes what is termed “conflicted”. Conflicted is a term used to describe two behaviors that contradict each other. In the case of aggression the two behaviors are: 1) wanting the food and 2) wanting space.  You may feel that pushing the dog past its comfort zone is what is going to help it. This is misinformed. Most likely you will get a dog that darts in and out. Or you will get a a dog that stretches as far as they can, and is in a mental state of distress. Both situations are not ideal and teach the dog nothing. The dog needs to be calm to learn not stressed. 

 

The Treat & Retreat Method

Instead of the hand-feeding method we recommend ‘The Treat & Retreat Method” because it adjust for each dogs individual ‘comfort space’. You make your self more attractive by throwing treats instead of hand feeding. This allows the dog to come in and out with out pressure. However, make sure you are not making an attempt to interact or say hello but instead throw treats for the dog to get. Over time, you can decrease the throwing distance and you becomes a much more exciting person to be around.

Treat & Retreat

Appendix 3:
How to introduce an aggressive female or male dog to another dog

Introducing an aggressive dog to a new dog is a slow and steady process. Aim for introductions to start several weeks before the two dogs will be living together, even longer. That’s because you may need the dogs to meet several times before you get an idea of whether they will be able to get along. 

Introduction Methods For Female Dogs Who Suddenly Became Aggressive.

The parallel walk method helps dogs to meet calmly and safely. Both dogs should be on a leash attached to either harnesses or comfy collars; it’s important that the equipment  does not causes pain or discomfort. No prong collars or choke chains and no e-collars; we don’t want the dogs to associate the pain with each other. The dogs are walked in the same direction but on opposite sides of a wide street. If one of the dogs is reactive you may need to find a location with more space to create a greater distance between them.  As you’re walking, reward your dog with treats whenever they calmly look at the other dog. If the aggressive dog reacts by barking or lunging, you need more distance between the two dogs.  Gradually reduce the distance between your dogs while keeping them moving in the same direction. Eventually, the aggressive dog is allowed to approach and sniff the new dog. Leashes need to be kept loose, and after a few seconds, calmly call the dogs apart to give them a break.

The tandem walk method is one another way to help dogs to bond.  Instead of having the dog across the street, the dogs is behind the other dog with at least 12 feet distance (this depends on your dogs reactivity). Walk your dogs together, making sure the proper distance is maintained. After a while, turn around and have the other dog lead the walk. You may need to increase distance on the swap. Each dog has their own preference.  Meeting out on the street in a controlled environment is very different from living with each other. Management is essential while the dogs are learning to get along.

Walking two dogs (one behind the other with distance) can help with aggression in two dog households.

Helping an aggressive dog to live with another dog.

  • Feed the dogs in separate rooms with the doors closed until each dog has finished and the bowls are picked up.
  • Set up quiet areas in the home so that the dogs can have time away from each other.
  • Carefully watch each dog’s body language so that you can spot the signs of tension building. Then you can intervene before a fight breaks out.
  • Make sure there are lots of extra toys to reduce the likelihood of guarding behavior.
  • Ensure both dogs get plenty of exercise.
  • Reduce the stress levels by not having visitors or deliveries during the first few days.
  • Introduce regular training sessions to increase how responsive each dog is to you.
  • Avoid any punishment or corrections; these increase stress and damage the relationship between you and your dog.

10 thoughts on “My Dog Is Aggressive Towards Me But Not My Husband ”

  1. Hi there! I’m wondering if you offer help with adult/senior dogs, I have a 7 year old chihuahua who I rescued, his anxiety is just breaking my heart and I dont know where to turn

    1. One thing you can look into is canine massage therapy. There are two types of nervous system states. One is for fight or flight and the other is for ‘rest and digest’. Massage activates the part of the nervous system that is responsible for relaxation. This is why you rub a loved ones back when they are upset. You are essentially activating the “rest” nervous system. If your chihuahua is always in a state of anxiety it could be detrimental to his immune system. Massage gives the dog time to be in the rest state for the duration of the massage (and then some). I highly recommend it for high anxiety dogs.

    1. Our rescue has gone for my wife about 5 times, once when I was wasn’t around over a blanket there other time when my wife tried to get into bed. Then in one day she went for her 3 times, unpacking the groceries and knocked one over then unpacking the dish washer while I was preping supper and then when she walked past her on the couch. The last two she got a fullnon bite in and I had to pull her away. We are at a bit of a loss. It’s our first rescue and the place we got her from are not very helpful. Any advice would be great. At first we thought it’s resource grading me but I’m not a 100% sure. She has only ever gone for my wife. We have had her for 3 months now.

      1. Hi Steve Did you get a reply. I am finding the same problem with my rough collie. He attacks my husband and has drawn blood. Sometimes, just when he walks by or he picks something up. Not sure what to do

        Diane

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