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My Dog Is Aggressive Towards Me But Not My Husband 

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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

Aggression in dogs stems from various behavioral causes. Key among these are redirected aggression, pain-induced reactions, possessive behavior, fear responses, environmental triggers, and home aggression. Identifying these types is crucial for effective management.


Understanding a dog’s behavior can sometimes be challenging. If you notice your female dog is suddenly aggressive, it might be a case of redirected aggression. This occurs when a dog lashes out because they can’t reach the real source of their frustration.


Pain can significantly alter a dog’s behavior. If your female dog is suddenly aggressive, it might be due to pain-related issues. Recognizing this can help address the root cause and ensure her well-being.

Home Aggression

Dogs have a strong instinct to protect their space. If your female dog is suddenly aggressive, she might be displaying territorial aggression. This behavior arises when they perceive an intrusion into their domain.


Dogs can be fiercely protective of what they see as valuable. If your female dog is suddenly aggressive, it might be a sign of resource guarding. This behavior emerges when they feel someone might take their prized possession, be it food, toys, or even a spot on the couch.


Fear can trigger unexpected behaviors in dogs. If your female dog is suddenly aggressive, she might be acting out of fear. Understanding the source of her anxiety is crucial for addressing and alleviating her concerns.

Environment Change

Pain can significantly alter a dog’s behavior. If you find that your female dog is suddenly aggressive, it might be due to pain-related issues. Recognizing this can help address the root cause and ensure her well-being.

Reading Starts Here

Redirected Aggression

Adjusting to a new environment can be stressful for pets. If your female dog is suddenly aggressive, a recent change in her surroundings could be the cause. Recognizing this can help in providing comfort and stability for her.

Being Restrained (leashed or held)

When a dog cannot access the source of their desire, their frustration can escalate. This might cause them to redirect their aggression towards a more accessible target, such as a nearby person or animal.

Background: Jane, an avid morning walker, cherished her daily strolls with her two companions: Milo, a spirited Beagle with an insatiable curiosity for critters, and Daisy, a mellow Golden Retriever. While Daisy usually trotted along calmly, Milo was often enticed by the myriad of scents and sights, especially squirrels.

Incident: On an exceptionally crisp morning, Jane was walking both dogs when Milo spotted a squirrel darting across their path. Unable to contain his instinct, Milo lunged forward, pulling hard on his leash. Jane managed to restrain him, but in heightened frustration, Milo whipped around and nipped at Daisy, who yelped in surprise. The encounter left Jane stunned and worried about future walks.

Analysis: Milo’s behavior was a classic case of redirected aggression. Unable to reach the squirrel and overwhelmed by his instinctual drive, Milo vented his pent-up frustration on the nearest available target, which happened to be Daisy. Such incidents are often impulsive and occur when a dog is overstimulated or frustrated by something it can’t access.

Resolution: Learn the “Look at That” (LAT) game. The game taught Milo impulse control and provided a positive outlet for his instinctual urges. Additionally, during walks, Jane began carrying high-value treats to capture Milo’s attention whenever potential distractions, like squirrels, appeared.  For Daisy’s sake, during the initial training period, Jane decided to walk the dogs separately, ensuring both had a peaceful experience. Once Milo showed significant progress with his training, the duo was reunited on their morning walks. With time, consistency, and positive reinforcement, Milo’s impulsive reactions diminished, and the morning walks returned to their peaceful routine.

Fell/Tripped & Have A Minor Injury

Redirected aggression in dogs is a complex behavior where, in moments of heightened arousal or frustration, they may snap at someone or another dog nearby, even if that individual was not the original source of their agitation. This can be particularly alarming and perplexing for pet owners, as it can seem unprovoked or misdirected. For instance, in certain scenarios, my dog is aggressive towards me but not my husband, indicating the unpredictable nature of such reactions. It’s crucial to understand and manage this form of aggression to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Background: Haven, a 3-year-old Aussie, and Loki, a 5-year-old Aussie, lived harmoniously in the Smith household. Both dogs had their distinct personalities, with Haven being the more playful and sometimes clumsy one, while Loki was calm and mostly kept to himself.

Incident: One evening, Mrs. Smith was playing fetch with Haven in the living room. In her excitement, Haven miscalculated a leap and fell off the couch. This fall startled and possibly hurt her. Loki, unaware of what just happened, was resting on the floor nearby. Haven, likely overwhelmed with shock and pain from the fall, immediately turned towards Loki and snapped at him. Loki, surprised by this sudden aggression, retaliated defensively.

Analysis: It’s evident that Haven did not snap at Loki out of genuine aggression towards him. Instead, her reaction was a classic case of redirected aggression. The pain and shock from the fall created an intense emotion, and Haven, in her momentary confusion, lashed out at the nearest target, which unfortunately was Loki.

Resolution: The Smiths intervened immediately, separating the two dogs and ensuring neither was injured from the brief skirmish. Haven was examined for any injuries from her fall, and thankfully, it was just a minor bruise. From a preventative option, it’s best to avoid situations where dogs get frustrated. Another example is a dog pulling towards another dog on a walk. They might redirect their aggression to their housemate. 

Lashing Out If Refused Something (like a frisbee or treat)

Dogs, much like humans, can have strong reactions when denied something they desire. It’s not uncommon for pet owners to be taken aback and wonder, “Why is my dog suddenly aggressive?” especially when this behavior emerges after being refused a toy, treat, or attention.

Background: Niko, a lively Siberian Husky with a streak of playfulness, was the pride of the Dawson family. Bright-eyed and always eager, Niko’s evenings were often lit up with the excitement of chasing after his treasured frisbee.

Incident: One sunny afternoon, Mr. Dawson held the frisbee in his hand, teasing Niko with the promise of a throw. Niko’s anticipation was evident in his intense gaze and quivering tail. But as the minutes went by and the frisbee remained unthrown, Niko’s excitement turned into palpable distress. Suddenly, in a burst of frustration, Niko snapped at Mr. Dawson, catching his hand and leaving a small nick.

Analysis: For Niko, the frisbee was more than just a toy; it was a ritual, an outlet for his immense energy and enthusiasm. The prolonged tease, combined with his unmet expectation of play, created a surge of frustration. Unable to communicate his distress, and overwhelmed by his own anticipation, Niko’s pent-up frustration manifested as aggression.


Avoid pushing your dog to its frustration limits. Instead, work on gradually increasing its tolerance to frustration.

Fear Of Life, Redirect

Dogs, much like humans, have varied reactions when faced with fear. Sometimes, in a moment of heightened anxiety or panic, they may redirect their aggression by biting someone familiar, like their owner. It can be alarming for pet owners to witness their normally calm female dog being aggressive all of a sudden. Recognizing the signs of fear and understanding the reasons for redirected aggression are crucial steps in ensuring both the dog’s and owner’s safety.

Background: Bella, a dainty and usually docile Maltese, had been the beloved lapdog of the Hartman family for years. She was known for her fluffy white coat and gentle demeanor, often drawing admirers wherever she went. Though small in stature, Bella had always been approachable and friendly.

Incident: During a casual evening walk, The Hartmans and Bella were approached by a stranger eager to pet the adorable pup. As the stranger extended their hand, Bella suddenly lunged, biting Mr.  Hartman unexpectedly. The shocked stranger retracted their hand, and Mrs. Hartman quickly picked up Bella, equally astonished by her pet’s behavior.

Analysis: While Bella had always been comfortable around familiar faces, this sudden encounter with a stranger may have caught her off-guard. Small dog breeds, though often perceived as harmless, can sometimes feel threatened due to their size, especially when unknown people invade their personal space without warning.

Resolution: Recognizing that Bella might be more sensitive to sudden interactions than previously thought, Mrs. Hartman began socialization training to acclimate Bella to different people and situations. She also started to inform potential petters to approach Bella slowly, giving her time to adjust. With continued exposure and positive reinforcement, Bella gradually became more tolerant of unfamiliar faces, ensuring safer interactions for everyone involved.

Pain Related Aggression

Underlying pain can cause sudden aggression in dogs. If a usually gentle female dog becomes aggressive, pain might be the reason. Quick veterinary care is essential to address this change.

Muscular Injury (Sharp Or Achy)

Dogs, like humans, can experience sore muscles. A female dog might suddenly become aggressive when feeling this discomfort. Soreness ranges from a mild ache to sharp pain, often after exertion.

Background: Zoe, a lithe and agile Border Collie, was the star of the local agility circuit. Together with her owner, Amanda, they formed an unstoppable team, gliding through obstacles with grace and precision. Their bond was evident to anyone who saw them perform, making Zoe’s sudden change in behavior all the more shocking.

Incident: After a particularly intense training session, Amanda noticed Zoe limping slightly. Thinking it was just a temporary strain, she proceeded to put on Zoe’s leash for their walk back to the car. But as the leash clicked into place, Zoe, seemingly out of nowhere, snapped at Amanda, barely missing her hand.

Analysis: Concerned and hurt, Amanda sought an immediate consultation with her vet. Upon examination, it was revealed that Zoe had a minor muscle injury, likely sustained during one of her jumps. The pain from the injury, combined with the pressure from the leash, led Zoe to react aggressively, not out of malice but out of discomfort.

Resolution: Understanding the root of Zoe’s reaction, Amanda ensured she received the proper care and rest to heal her injury. To prevent future incidents, Amanda also started a routine of post-training checks, gently feeling Zoe’s body for any signs of strain or injury after rigorous activities. Through patience and understanding, their bond remained strong, reminding both Amanda and Zoe of the trust they shared and the importance of attentive care.

Age Related Pain

If a gentle senior female dog turns aggressive, it might signal age-related pain or health issues. Owners should consult a veterinarian promptly to ensure their aging pet’s comfort and well-being.

Background: Charlie, a venerable Golden Retriever, had been a gentle companion to the Davis family for nearly a decade. Known in the neighborhood for his serene demeanor and ever-wagging tail, age had begun to leave its mark on Charlie with a slower pace and grayer snout. But his spirit remained youthful, making his recent bouts of aggression all the more puzzling to the Davis clan.

Incident: One brisk morning, as Mrs. Davis reached out to help Charlie onto the couch, a spot he had always cherished, he unexpectedly growled and nipped at her hand. The incidents grew more frequent, with Charlie becoming irritable when touched or approached, especially by the Davis children. His once-predictable nature seemed to have transformed overnight.

Analysis: Concerned about Charlie’s sudden shift in temperament, the Davises scheduled a vet appointment. Thorough examinations revealed that Charlie had developed arthritis, a common ailment in older dogs. The previously unnoticed stiffness in his joints was causing him significant discomfort. When touched or moved in certain ways, the pain became unbearable for Charlie, leading to what appeared as “aggressive” reactions.

Resolution: Armed with this new knowledge, the Davis family began a treatment plan for Charlie that included pain management medications, joint supplements, and gentle physiotherapy exercises. They also made modifications at home, like providing orthopedic bedding and placing ramps to help him navigate elevated areas. Over time, as Charlie’s comfort increased, his pain-induced aggression decreased. The family also learned to recognize his pain signals and approach him with added care, ensuring that Charlie’s golden years remained filled with love and understanding.

Medically Something Is Wrong

Internal illnesses can cause pain in dogs, leading to sudden aggression. While a dog might act out towards one person, it may remain calm with others, suggesting either coincidences or specific triggers associated with that individual.

Background: Daisy, a cheerful and sociable Golden Retriever, had been the centerpiece of the Thompson family’s household for several years. With her shimmering golden coat and ever-wagging tail, Daisy was known to be the epitome of canine joy, loved by neighbors, friends, and family alike.

Incident: Recently, the Thompsons began noticing a change in Daisy’s behavior. Instead of her usual playful self, she started showing signs of aggression, especially when being petted or approached. One afternoon, as Mr. Thompson bent down to give Daisy a pat, she growled and snapped at him, something she had never done before.

Analysis: The sudden shift in Daisy’s behavior prompted an immediate visit to the vet. After a series of tests, it was revealed that Daisy had developed a rare and unexpected illness that caused intermittent and sharp pains. These pains were not always obvious but were severe enough to cause her to redirect her discomfort into aggression. The illness itself had minimal visible symptoms, making it even more challenging to diagnose initially.

Resolution: Upon understanding the root cause of Daisy’s aggression, the Thompsons were able to start her on a treatment plan to address her pain. They also took precautions by minimizing her interactions with others, especially young children, until she showed improvement. With the right medication, Daisy’s health began to stabilize, and her pain decreased. The Thompsons also consulted with a dog behaviorist to help Daisy recover emotionally and rebuild her trust in human interactions. Over time, with medical care and behavioral support, Daisy returned to her cheerful, loving self, once again bringing joy to the Thompson family and their community.

Post Surgery Aggression (pain + disorientated)

Post-surgery, dogs often feel disoriented and in pain, unsure of why they feel this way and stressed from the veterinary experience. This can lead to unexpected behaviors, especially when reintroduced to other pets at home. Recognizing and addressing these changes in temperament is crucial for a smooth recovery and maintaining a peaceful household.

Background: Bear, a robust and spirited Rottweiler, had been the gentle giant of the Harrison family since he was a puppy. Known in the neighborhood for his friendly demeanor and gentle play, it came as a surprise when his behavior shifted dramatically after a seemingly routine event: his neutering surgery.

Incident: Following the surgery, as Bear began to recover, the Harrisons observed a marked change in his behavior. Previously amiable and sociable, Bear now exhibited signs of aggression. He growled when approached, showed reluctance in being touched, and even snapped at Mr. Harrison when he tried to inspect the surgical site.

Analysis: Bear’s sudden aggressive tendencies post-neutering were not a direct result of the surgery itself but more likely a combination of factors. The pain and discomfort from the surgery, coupled with the disorientation of the post-surgery medications, could have made him feel vulnerable. This vulnerability, combined with the unfamiliar environment of the veterinary clinic and the memory of the traumatic experience, might have contributed to his heightened defensiveness and aggression.

Resolution: Concerned about Bear’s well-being and safety, the Harrisons reached out to their veterinarian for guidance. They were advised to give Bear ample space and time to recover, ensuring he had a quiet and comfortable space away from high-traffic areas in the home. Pain management was also addressed, ensuring Bear was comfortable and not acting out due to pain. Simultaneously, the Harrisons consulted a canine behaviorist to guide them through reintroducing Bear to regular household routines gently and safely. Over the following weeks, with careful management, understanding, and positive reinforcement, Bear’s usual friendly nature began to shine through once again, signaling a successful return to his pre-surgery self.

Home Aggression

Dogs have a deep-rooted instinct to guard their territory. A typically docile female dog’s sudden aggression may arise from this protective instinct, especially around their home. Recognizing this can help pet owners understand unexpected behavioral changes.

Inside Yard Fence Running

Territorial aggression is often a defensive response rather than offensive. When someone comes into an area that your dog considers their home, they may react aggressively to get that person or dog to leave.

Background: Lola, a spirited and keen-eared Labrador, was the cherished pet of the Martinez family, living in a peaceful suburban neighborhood. Known for her loyalty and devotion to her family, Lola was also renowned for her vocal presence, ensuring the security of her domain from anyone she deemed an outsider.

Incident: One sunny afternoon, as Mr. Martinez was tending to his garden, he observed Lola’s ritual in action. A passerby, unfamiliar to Lola, strolled by their picket fence. Without hesitation, Lola barked relentlessly, her posture alert and wary. The unsuspecting stranger, taken aback, quickened his pace and soon disappeared from sight. Lola, seemingly satisfied, trotted back proudly, tail wagging, believing she had successfully defended her territory.

Analysis: To Lola, her logic was clear: she perceived a potential threat, she issued her warning, and the threat receded. In her canine understanding, her barking directly influenced the stranger’s decision to leave. This perceived “victory” only served to reinforce her guarding behavior. In essence, each time a person walked away after she barked, it reaffirmed her belief that her barking was effective in keeping her family safe.

Resolution:  Each time a stranger approached the house, the family would distract Lola with treats or her favorite toy before she began to bark, gradually changing her association with strangers from potential threats to positive experiences. The behaviorist also advised the family to train Lola with commands like “quiet” or “enough,” rewarding her silence with treats. The third thing you can teach is the “Its Yer Choice” game, which can be used as a distraction game during a trigger. 

Another Dog Visits Inside House

Dogs’ territorial instincts, honed over centuries, can lead to aggression towards perceived intruders, including other dogs or even household humans. This can result in scenarios where a dog is aggressive towards one family member but not another. Recognizing and addressing these behaviors is essential for peaceful coexistence.

Background: Rio, a proud and regal German Shepherd, ruled the roost at the Andersons’ residence. Over the years, he had developed particular fondness for the kitchen, likely because of the tantalizing aromas and the fact that it was where he received his meals and treats. Rio’s territorial instincts were strong, but they were especially pronounced when it came to the kitchen.

Incident: One sunny afternoon, the Andersons decided to host a small get-together and invited their friends, the Millers, who brought along Max, their inquisitive Golden Retriever. As the afternoon progressed, Max, eager to explore, wandered into Rio’s sacred territory: the kitchen. As soon as he stepped in, Rio’s demeanor shifted from relaxed to alert. A low growl emanated from him, signaling his discomfort with Max’s intrusion.

Analysis: Rio’s reaction to Max’s entry into the kitchen was a classic display of territorial aggression. While the entire home was Rio’s domain, the kitchen held special significance for him. Max’s innocent exploration inadvertently crossed a boundary, triggering Rio’s instinct to defend what he perceived as his own.

Resolution: Recognizing the potential for a confrontation, the Andersons immediately intervened. They led Max out of the kitchen and used a baby gate to create a temporary barrier, ensuring that the two dogs could coexist without any territorial disputes.  However, to prevent future problems they needed to train Rio. 

  1. Leash Dog A (aggressor ) and Dog B.  You will ne either two people or a teether
  2. Bring Dog A into a room with one of the handlers. If there is only one handler, teether Dog A .  Then bring Dog B into Dog A’s visual. Give Dog A treats by throwing them at him. Now give Dog B a treat. If Dog A does not react, throw Dog A a treat but only  if he does not react to Dog B getting a treat. 
  3. If Dog A reacts while giving Dog B treats, you got too close to them. You might start with a fence or a clear door they can see you from another room.
TIP: Don’t treat Dog A when Dog B isn’t present. Aim to positively associate Dog B’s presence with rewards for Dog A. Reduce their distance gradually, watching for Dog A’s stress. If tension arises, increase their distance. Train methodically over weeks and feed them separately until Dog A adjusts.
Barking Aggression With Passerbys

Territorial aggression in dogs arises from perceived threats in their domain, leading them to react aggressively to passersby. Within the home, this behavior can sometimes vary between family members.

Background: Bella, a spirited and alert Border Collie, was the cherished pet of the Thompson family. Living in a house with a large window facing a busy sidewalk, she had a clear view of everyone and everything that passed by. Over time, Bella had developed a habit of keenly watching the foot traffic outside and responding vocally.

Incident: One day, a local community event resulted in an unusually high number of pedestrians walking past the Thompsons’ residence. From early morning to sunset, Bella seemed to be on high alert. Every time someone approached or passed the house, she would bark incessantly. Her energy seemed boundless, and her vocal alerts were almost non-stop. Neighbors even commented on her increased vocal activity, and the Thompsons grew concerned.

Analysis: Bella’s behavior was a combination of her breed’s natural alertness and her environment. Being a Border Collie, she had a high drive and alertness, and the continuous stream of pedestrians triggered her guarding instincts. The large window provided a perfect vantage point, making it impossible for Bella to ignore the outside world.

The Thompsons realized they needed to address Bella’s behavior to ensure peace in the neighborhood and reduce Bella’s stress. They started by adding curtains to the window, limiting Bella’s direct view of the sidewalk. They also consulted a dog trainer who advised them on positive reinforcement techniques. Every time someone passed by and Bella remained quiet, she was rewarded. Over several weeks of consistent training and some environmental modifications, Bella’s barking decreased significantly, bringing peace back to the Thompson household and their surrounding community.

Maternal Aggression

When a female dog feels that her pups are in danger, then she can become aggressive to get that threat to move away. Just as with pain-induced aggression, this doesn’t mean that the Mum will show aggression in any other situation; it’s specific to protecting her young pups.

Background: Suki, a regal Shiba Inu with a fiery coat and matching spirit, was cherished by the Nakamura family. She was known for her independent yet affectionate nature, a blend typical of her breed. As Suki approached her prime breeding age, the Nakamuras decided to have a litter, eager to experience the joy of Shiba puppies. They made meticulous preparations, ensuring Suki had a comfortable nesting area.

Incident: Once the puppies arrived, the previously amicable Suki transformed. Whenever a family member, or worse, a visitor, approached the whelping box, she’d growl menacingly, her eyes sharp and wary. On one occasion, when Mr. Nakamura tried to handle one of the pups for a health check, Suki lunged, snapping her jaws close to his hand.

Analysis: Maternal aggression, though alarming, is not uncommon, especially in breeds known for their strong protective instincts. Suki’s behavior was a manifestation of her overwhelming urge to protect her vulnerable offspring. The evolutionary roots of this behavior are clear: in the wild, any intrusion near newborns could mean a threat. However, the fact that the perceived ‘threats’ were familiar family members indicated the depth of her instinctual drive.

Resolution: They began by limiting access to Suki and her pups, ensuring she felt safe and undisturbed. They used baby gates to create a boundary while allowing her to see and hear familiar household sounds. Gradually, they reintroduced family members, ensuring they approached calmly and without direct eye contact. They also engaged in passive activities nearby, like reading, to desensitize Suki to their presence. Over time, with patience and respect for her maternal instincts, Suki’s aggression waned, and she began to trust that her family posed no threat to her precious litter.

Define: Distraction Game

The “It’s Yer Choice” game, developed by renowned dog trainer Susan Garrett, has emerged as a powerful tool in the realm of canine behavior management and training. For many pet owners who find themselves perplexed and asking, “Why is my female dog being aggressive all of a sudden?”, this game offers a solution. By teaching dogs impulse control and providing a distraction from potential triggers, “It’s Yer Choice” has been instrumental in mitigating unwanted aggressive behaviors and fostering a calm, receptive demeanor in dogs.

A picture of text with a client about distraction training with aggressive dogs

Possessive Aggression

Dogs, like many animals, can be possessive of valuable objects. A female dog’s sudden aggression might be tied to guarding items or spots she values. Recognizing this behavior is key to effectively managing and addressing it.

Humans & Bones

When your dog feels distressed or uneasy, they can respond aggressively. This is because they are trying to get away from the scary situation or make it go away. If this doesn’t work a ‘fear aggressive dog’ will attack. Fearful dogs give subtle body language signs to try to tell us that they’re not happy with what’s happening. These include licking of the lips, blinking, and lowering their head. Fear is that they will be harmed by something in their environment(people and items)

Background: Max, a powerful and expressive pit bull, spent the initial years of his life confined in a cage, subjected to the harsh realities of an illegal breeding facility. In this environment, resources were limited, competition was fierce, and the need for survival was paramount. When the Thompson family rescued Max, he brought with him deeply ingrained behaviors born from years of deprivation.

Incident: During the early days with the Thompsons, Max showcased an intense attachment to valuable items, especially bones. One afternoon, while the family’s young daughter, Emily, innocently approached Max while he was enjoying a bone, he growled menacingly, bearing his teeth. The situation was defused by Mrs. Thompson, but the family became acutely aware of the depth of Max’s resource guarding behavior.

Analysis: Max’s protective instincts around valuable resources, like bones, were a direct result of his cage upbringing. In that confined space, every resource he obtained was a hard-won prize, and sharing or losing it could mean going without. Max had learned that guarding these items aggressively was the best strategy to ensure he kept them.


A training regimen focused on “trading up” — offering Max an item of higher value in exchange for what he was guarding. This not only diverted his attention but also built trust that giving up his prized possession could result in an even better outcome. Over time, with repeated positive reinforcement and exercises, Max started to understand that resources in the Thompson home were abundant, and there was no need to guard them fiercely. With persistence and an abundance of love, the Thompsons helped Max unlearn his aggressive guarding behavior, allowing him to truly embrace his new life of comfort and security.

Human & Food

Dogs, especially those with uncertain pasts like rescues, can develop food aggression due to past hunger or competition. This is seen when a dog becomes aggressive only around food, like Jet the Patterdale Terrier. Regular meals can help mitigate this, but some dogs might need additional training to overcome their food-related aggression.

Jet, a sleek and observant Greyhound mix, was adopted by the Richardson family from a rescue shelter. With a history that the shelter could only partly trace, Jet had experienced multiple homes before finding his forever family. While he adjusted smoothly to most aspects of the Richardson household, there was one glaring exception: mealtime.

One evening, as Mrs. Richardson went to place Jet’s food bowl on the floor, she noticed he was unusually tense. As she drew her hand away, Jet growled deeply, guarding his food. Concerned, Mr. Richardson attempted to approach, but Jet’s growls intensified, and he snapped in the air, signaling a clear warning.

Given Jet’s history of uncertainty and possibly experiencing food scarcity in his past, his behavior was indicative of possessive aggression. Food, a primary resource, had possibly been a rare or inconsistent commodity for Jet at some point in his life. This past experience had conditioned him to guard his food vigilantly, viewing anyone approaching as a potential threat to his sustenance.

Human Aggression: Starting to hand-feed Jet, showed him that food comes directly from them and is plentiful. Over time, using a mix of hand-feeding and bowl-feeding, they began approaching Jet’s bowl with treats, dropping them in to create a positive association. This counter-conditioning method helped Jet understand that the approach of a human to his food bowl meant more treats and not a threat. Gradually, with consistency, patience, and reassurance, Jet’s possessive aggression around food diminished, and he began to trust that his meals were safe and secure in the Richardson home.


Human With Toys & Objects

Dogs can get possessive about their toys and might act out if they feel threatened. This can make a usually calm dog suddenly aggressive. It’s important to understand this behavior to avoid problems.

Background: Wrigley, a playful and energetic Boxer, lived with the Martins in their cozy suburban home. Among the assortment of toys the Martins had bought for him, one stood out in particular: a yellow ducky plush toy. Unlike his other toys which he played with joyfully, Wrigley’s behavior around the ducky toy was markedly different.

Incident: One afternoon, Mrs. Martin noticed Wrigley growling and guarding the ducky toy. When she attempted to approach him or tried to take the toy away, his growls intensified and he even snapped in her direction. This behavior was unusual for Wrigley, who was otherwise very gentle and friendly with the family.

Analysis: For some inexplicable reason, Wrigley had formed a unique attachment or possessiveness towards the ducky plush toy. It’s possible that the texture, shape, or even the squeaky sound of the toy triggered an instinctual response in him. This attachment had led him to guard the toy aggressively, treating it as a valuable resource.


Dogs With Dogs & Food

Training a dog to tolerate another dog being fed can be a nuanced challenge for many pet owners. The unexpected thought of “Why is my dog suddenly aggressive when the other one eats?” can be daunting. However, with the right approach and understanding, it’s possible to cultivate harmony during feeding times.

Background: Buddy, a majestic Bernese Mountain Dog, was the pride of the Martin family, known not just for his impressive size and beauty but also for a peculiar behavior. Despite his gentle demeanor in most situations, he had a pronounced jealousy streak whenever another dog received a treat in his presence.

Incident: During a family gathering, the Martins, who were known to rescue and foster other dogs, introduced a new foster, a sprightly Beagle named Muffin. As treats were handed out to the canine guests, Buddy witnessed Muffin receive a treat before him. This triggered an immediate reaction: a loud growl followed by a snap in Muffin’s direction. The room went silent, the mood changed from cheerful to tense.

Analysis: Upon reflection, the Martins realized that Buddy’s response wasn’t an act of aggression towards Muffin specifically, but rather an outcome of his deeply ingrained jealousy whenever another dog was rewarded before him. This behavior needed addressing not only for the harmony of the household but also for the safety of their foster dogs.

Desensitizing a Dog to Another Dog Receiving Treats Using Distance Work:

  1. Establish a Starting Distance: Begin with both dogs at a distance where the observing dog remains calm and doesn’t show signs of jealousy or aggression. This might be several feet away or even more.

  2. Simultaneous Treating: While maintaining this initial distance, give a treat to the other dog. At the same moment, also reward the observing dog for staying calm, reinforcing positive behavior.

  3. Gradually Decrease the Distance: Over multiple sessions, and as the observing dog becomes more comfortable, start decreasing the distance between the two dogs incrementally. Only proceed to a closer distance if the observing dog remains consistently calm.

  4. Maintain Focus on the Handler: Use commands such as “watch me” or “stay” to keep the observing dog’s focus on you rather than on the other dog. Reward both dogs simultaneously, ensuring the observing dog doesn’t feel left out.

  5. Consistency and Repetition: Repeat this process regularly, ensuring that each session remains positive and ends on a good note. Over time, the observing dog should become desensitized to the other dog receiving treats, even at close distances.

Dogs With Dog & Objects

Just like humans, dogs have the ability to assign value to items. That might mean it’s very important for one dog to get lots of fuss and attention. For other dogs, they would rather be chewing their bone or playing with a favorite toy. Most dogs do not “assert dominance” over all things at all times (unless the dog grew up in trauma). Instead, they fight for whats worth it.

Background: Loki, a vibrant Australian Shepherd, was the heart of the Taylor household. His vibrant colors and active nature made him a focal point of attention. For years, he shared an especially close bond with Mrs. Taylor, considering her as his primary human. Their bond was so deep that the family often joked that while everyone else in the house had their roles, Mrs. Taylor was exclusively “Loki’s human.”

Incident: Things took a turn when Haven, a playful Golden Retriever, was introduced to the Taylor household. Loki surprisingly was welcoming, allowing Haven access to his toys, food, and even the affection of Mr. Taylor. However, whenever Mrs. Taylor approached Haven or vice versa, Loki’s demeanor would change drastically. On multiple occasions, Mrs. Taylor found herself thinking, “Why is my dog aggressive to me but not my husband?” It reached a point where any interaction between Haven and Mrs. Taylor was seen by Loki as a call to arms.

Analysis: The Taylors soon realized that while Loki was generally amicable, he had clear boundaries about what and who he valued most. Loki’s bond with Mrs. Taylor was something he was unwilling to share or risk. In his canine way of interpreting relationships, Loki felt he had to “go to battle” to ensure that his exclusive bond with Mrs. Taylor remained intact. This selectiveness in aggression indicated that Loki distinguished between relationships and had chosen which ones were worth fighting for.

Understanding Loki’s deep bond with her, Mrs. Taylor used desensitization techniques by giving Loki high-value treats like peanut butter kongs while she petted Haven. This positive reinforcement helped Loki associate Haven’s presence with rewards. Over time, this approach fostered harmony between the two dogs.

Fear Based Aggression

When animals, including dogs, feel threatened, they instinctively defend themselves. Even gentle dogs can become aggressive in situations they view as dangerous. Recognizing this fear-driven behavior is crucial for everyone’s safety and the dog’s comfort.

Dogs Attacking Them Off Leash

When distressed, dogs may react aggressively to escape or confront a frightening situation. A ‘fear aggressive dog’ might attack if initial signs like lip licking, blinking, or head lowering are ignored. This fear stems from potential harm from their surroundings, including people and objects.

Background: Luna, a spirited and agile Corgi, was the cherished companion of the Bennett family. Luna had always been a playful and social dog, but her demeanor changed after a traumatic encounter with an aggressive dog at a local park. Ever since, the specter of that memory haunted Luna during her interactions with unfamiliar dogs.

Incident: At a family gathering, the Bennetts decided to introduce Luna to their cousin’s new dog, Max. Initially, Luna displayed several subtle signals of discomfort: her tail was tucked, her ears were back, and she frequently licked her lips. Instead of recognizing these claiming signals, the Bennetts insisted on the introduction. As Max approached, Luna tried to retreat, but being on a leash, she couldn’t escape. Feeling cornered, Luna snapped at Max, causing a minor injury.

Analysis: Luna’s actions were driven by her overwhelming fear of another dog attack. Her body language had been sending clear distress signals, indicating her unease with the situation. These claiming signals, if heeded, could have circumvented the unfortunate incident. When Luna felt trapped and saw no alternative, she resorted to using violence as a last defense.


Start with confidence-building exercises and positive reinforcement training. Activities included controlled playdates with known, calm dogs, allowing Luna to dictate the pace of interactions, and rewarding her for calm behavior. They also practiced reading and respecting Luna’s claiming signals. With time, patience, and positive training methods, Luna began to rebuild her confidence around other dogs. The Bennetts also became more attuned to Luna’s needs and signals, ensuring a safer environment for her in all future dog interactions.

Attacked By Humans Off or On Leash

The doorbell ringing can be a huge trigger for many dogs. For some, it’s excitement for a new person to meet, but for others, it’s fear and aggression for the stranger. While it can be tempting to rush to the door while shouting at the dog to be quiet, that tends to just add to the frenzy.  

Background: Millie, a delicate and usually affectionate Maltese, was the apple of the Wilsons’ eye. Living in their city apartment, she had become accustomed to the limited sounds and sights of her immediate environment. However, a particular trigger unsettled her: the sound and sight of someone approaching or knocking on their apartment door.

Incident: On a breezy autumn evening, the Wilsons invited friends over for dinner. As the doorbell rang, Millie’s usual calm demeanor changed dramatically. Instead of the familiar wagging tail, she retreated, growling and showing her teeth. When Mrs. Wilson tried to comfort her, Millie, overwhelmed by fear, snapped at her, causing a minor scratch.

Analysis: Millie’s behavior wasn’t a show of dominance or territorial aggression but rather stemmed from fear. The sudden intrusion of noise from the doorbell and the appearance of strangers possibly overwhelmed her senses. This fear-based reaction was her way of trying to fend off what she perceived as a threat to her safe space.

Resolution: Keeping calm and calling the dog to you enables you to guide them to another room where they can wait safely until the visitor has left. It doesn’t take many repetitions before your dog learns where they need to go when the doorbell rings. If there’s a handful of treats scattered on the floor or a food stuffed toy to chew on, then they’re going to learn that pretty quickly! That does mean that preparation is essential. Make sure you have some treats stashed away by the door or a food stuffed toy already prepared and in the fridge.

I hooked my Furbo (treat dispenser) to my Alexa doorbell. Every time the doorbell rings Furbo throws a treat. My dogs no longer react to the doorbell but instead run to the Furbo. ​

Dogs On Leash

Leash reactivity is when dogs show aggression or overexcitement while on a leash, especially when encountering triggers, despite being calm off-leash. This behavior can stem from past traumas, such as negative experiences with other dogs while leashed, or even minor accidents involving the leash itself. It’s essential to understand the causes, which might include medical issues, to ensure safe walks for both dog and handler.

Background: Bruce, a robust and athletic Labrador Retriever, was a beloved member of the Greene family. While he was generally sociable and good-natured at home, there was one situation that consistently brought out a different side of him: walks on a leash. Open fields and off-leash parks were his playground, but the confines of a leash seemed to trigger something altogether different in him.

Incident: One sunny day, Mr. Greene decided to take Bruce for a walk around the neighborhood. As they strolled, another dog walker approached from the opposite direction. As the distance between the two dogs closed, Bruce’s posture changed. His ears perked up, his body tensed, and as they came side by side, Bruce lunged and barked aggressively, startling the other dog and its owner.

Analysis: Bruce’s behavior wasn’t an inherent aversion to other dogs, as he played amicably with many at the dog park. Instead, it was the restrictive nature of the leash that caused his reactivity. Feeling constrained, Bruce’s natural movement was hampered, potentially making him feel trapped or threatened when another dog approached, even if there was no actual threat.

Resolution: Realizing that Bruce’s leash reactivity could lead to potential problems, the Greenes decided to consult a dog trainer specializing in leash reactivity. The trainer introduced them to the “Look at That” game, where Bruce was taught to look at a triggering object or animal and then look back at the handler for a treat. This technique aimed to change Bruce’s emotional response to the trigger. Over several sessions, using controlled environments and introducing other dogs at a distance, Bruce was gradually desensitized to passing canines while on a leash. With consistent training, patience, and positive reinforcement, Bruce’s leash reactivity was significantly reduced, making walks a more enjoyable experience for both him and the Greene family.

Bending Over To Pet or Take Something

Bending or looming over a dog can be perceived as threatening, often leading to fear or defensive reactions. When this behavior elicits an unexpected aggressive response, owners might ask, “Why is my female dog being aggressive all of a sudden?” It underscores the importance of understanding how our body language can impact our canine companions’ reactions.

Just Me No One Else

When a dog is only afraid of a specific person and not all people in that group its probably due to they way you communicate to your dog. Dog’s communicate through facial and body expressions. Humans communicate through voice. Unfortunately, sometimes our dogs tell us that they are uncomfortable using their body and we are deaf to it. As a result, they escalate their behavior to a growl or bite.

Bella, a petite Boston Terrier with expressive eyes and a vibrant spirit, was the newest member of the Robinson household. Despite her small size, Bella had a fierce loyalty, particularly towards Mr. Robinson. However, her relationship with Mrs. Robinson was a stark contrast, often showing signs of aggression towards her while being utterly devoted to her husband.

One evening, as Mrs. Robinson tried to snuggle with Bella on the couch, Bella growled and nipped at her, taking the entire family by surprise. This wasn’t an isolated event. On several other occasions, simple acts like reaching out to pet Bella or moving too quickly around her resulted in similar aggressive reactions towards Mrs. Robinson, but never towards her husband.

Upon reflection and some consultation, it became evident that Mrs. Robinson, unknowingly, might have invaded Bella’s personal space on multiple occasions, causing discomfort. Bella’s aggression was her way of communicating her boundaries and discomfort. Dogs often exhibit appeasement behaviors – subtle signs indicating their unease. In Bella’s case, she might have been showcasing these signs, but they went unnoticed by Mrs. Robinson.

Resolution: Recognizing the need to rebuild trust and establish a bond, Mrs. Robinson educated herself on recognizing appeasement behaviors in dogs. She also began implementing the “treat and retreat” method: approaching Bella while holding a treat, and then retreating before Bella could show signs of discomfort. This method helped Bella associate Mrs. Robinson’s approach with positive experiences. Over time, with patience and consistent efforts, Bella began warming up, learning that Mrs. Robinson respected her boundaries and space. This transformation underscored the importance of understanding canine communication to foster healthy relationships.

Hugging Is A Primate Behavior

Hugging is primarily a primate behavior, deeply ingrained in human expressions of affection and comfort. However, many dogs do not naturally understand or appreciate this gesture, which can cause discomfort or stress. When faced with unexpected reactions after a hug, dog owners might ponder, “Why is my female dog being aggressive all of a sudden?”

A text conversation about how hugging can cause a dog to be aggressive

You Don't Understand Boundaries

Calming signals are subtle cues used by dogs to communicate discomfort or the intent to pacify in potentially stressful situations. These signals help prevent conflicts and convey the desire for peace. When these cues are overlooked or misunderstood by other dogs or humans, it can lead to escalated behaviors, prompting owners to ask, “Why is my female dog being aggressive all of a sudden?”

At text exchange about using human food as the trade. Because you cant trade a penny for a 100 dollar bill

People Who Share Similar Characteristics

Trauma in dogs stems from specific events, such as being accidentally stepped on. If someone with long blonde hair caused the trauma, a dog might view others with similar features as threats, leading them to be aggressive towards me but not towards others. This behavior arises from the dog’s attempt to protect itself from perceived harm.

Background: Daisy, a gentle Labrador mix, was a cherished member of the Williams family. Rescued from a troubling past, she adapted well to her new home and was affectionate with most people she met. However, there was a distinct pattern to her wariness: she was uneasy around men with deep voices.

Incident: During a neighborhood gathering at the Williams’ residence, Mr. Clark, a friend with a notably deep voice, greeted Daisy. Almost immediately, she retreated, growling softly and showing clear signs of distress. The situation perplexed the attendees, as Daisy had never displayed such behavior at previous events.

Analysis: Connecting the dots, the Williams realized that Daisy’s reaction wasn’t random. Her aversion to men with deep voices was likely a trauma response, harking back to a possibly abusive past before her rescue. Dogs, much like humans, can harbor traumatic memories and become suddenly aggressive or fearful when confronted with reminders.

Resolution: Understanding the depth of Daisy’s trauma, the Williams sought the help of a professional dog therapist. They began a dedicated desensitization process, gradually introducing Daisy to varying voice pitches in a controlled environment, using positive reinforcement. The Williams also informed close friends and family about Daisy’s sensitivity, advising them on how to approach her gently. Over time, with consistent therapy and understanding, Daisy’s trauma response diminished, helping her build trust and find peace with her past.

Treat & Retreat Method

The “treat and retreat” method helps build trust in apprehensive dogs by rewarding calm behavior and letting them retreat to safety. Yet, without such understanding, many owners ask, “Why is my female dog being aggressive all of a sudden?”

A text between a client about building confidence with a dog that is aggressive to you but not to your husband.

New People In General

Early socialization is crucial for dogs. Without it, they might react unpredictably to everyday situations. This can lead to concerns like “my dog is aggressive to me but not my husband” if the dog isn’t used to certain appearances or behaviors. Such fears can often generalize, making the dog wary of broader categories.

Background: Max, a vigilant German Shepherd, had been the loyal guardian of the Thompson household since his puppy days. Known for his sharp instincts and strong bond with his immediate family, Max always exhibited caution around those he didn’t recognize. Growing up, he had limited exposure to outsiders, which made him particularly wary.

Incident: One summer day, the Thompsons decided to host a family reunion. As relatives and friends flooded into the house, Max became visibly agitated. When a cousin attempted to pat him, Max growled and barked menacingly, causing a momentary panic among the guests.

Analysis: Max’s reaction was a culmination of his limited socialization experiences. Dogs not exposed to varied social scenarios during their developmental stages can become suddenly aggressive or fearful in unfamiliar situations or with unknown people.

Resolution: Recognizing Max’s socialization gap, the Thompsons took proactive steps to address it. They enrolled him in a professional socialization program, introducing him gradually to diverse environments, people, and other pets. They also sought advice on positive reinforcement techniques to reward Max for calm behavior around strangers. With time, patience, and consistent training, Max started showing reduced anxiety around unfamiliar faces, ensuring more relaxed gatherings in the future.

Desensitization Method

Desensitization is a training method focused on gradually exposing an aggressive dog to a stimulus, reducing its negative reactions over time. By increasing a dog’s tolerance in controlled increments, the behavior can shift from aggressive to calm. However, without employing such strategies, many owners might question, “Why is my female dog being aggressive all of a sudden?”

a text interaction with a client about how to Desensitization of a dog who is dog on dog aggressive

Environment Change

Dogs, as creatures of habit, thrive on consistency and routine in their surroundings. Even subtle shifts in their environment or daily life can significantly impact their behavior. When faced with unexpected changes, it’s not uncommon for pet owners to observe unusual reactions. For instance, many have reported incidents where their female dog became suddenly aggressive, highlighting the sensitivity of dogs to their immediate environment.

The Routine Was Messed Up

When a female dog is aggressive all of a sudden it could because you disrupted their routine. Some dogs are real creatures of habit, and when that routine changes, they can find it unsettling and challenging to cope with. That might be different people in the home; maybe you have visitors staying or builders completing some work for you. Have you had to leave your dog for much longer during the day than normal? 

Charlie, a charming Cocker Spaniel with silky ears and a wagging tail, was the darling of the Johnson family. Accustomed to a predictable routine, Charlie eagerly awaited the return of Mr. Johnson every evening, marking the beginning of their bonding time with walks and play.

Things changed when Mr. Johnson secured a new job, which demanded a different shift. Instead of his usual evening return, he started coming home in the early hours of the morning. One day, as Mr. Johnson tried to greet Charlie upon his return, the usually cheerful Cocker Spaniel growled and showed uncharacteristic signs of aggression.

The Johnsons quickly realized that Charlie’s unexpected behavior was linked to the abrupt change in routine. Dogs, like many creatures, are creatures of habit. The sudden shift in Mr. Johnson’s working hours disrupted Charlie’s familiar schedule, causing confusion and stress. The predictability that Charlie had always relied upon had been upended, making him feel insecure and leading to aggression.

Acknowledging the importance of routine for Charlie, the Johnson family made conscious efforts to establish a new, consistent schedule for him. They incorporated specific activities and interactions that would happen at the same time daily, even in Mr. Johnson’s absence. When Mr. Johnson returned from his shift, he approached Charlie calmly, providing treats and positive affirmations to rebuild their bond. Over time, with the family’s understanding and consistency, Charlie adapted to the new routine, and his trust in his environment was restored.

You Are Stressed

If there’s been a bereavement, arguing, or even a new arrival, the stress that causes can result in your dog reacting in a very different way to normal. Are you  more easily stressed than other members in the family? Your dog might be reacting specifically to your stress level and no one else. This could explain person specific aggression. 

Atlas, an exquisite Azawakh with a regal posture and sleek coat, was a rarity in the Parker household. This elegant sighthound, known for his deep bond with his owner, had always been the embodiment of grace and serenity.

As the months rolled on, Mrs. Parker, deeply engrossed in planning her daughter’s wedding, found herself overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. Her usual calm demeanor was replaced with bouts of tension and irritability. One evening, as a wedding planner made a sudden move, Atlas, out of character, bared his teeth and growled, putting everyone on high alert.

Piecing together the events, it became evident that Atlas’s aggression wasn’t unprovoked. Dogs, especially sensitive breeds like the Azawakh, can pick up on and mirror the emotions of their primary caregivers. Mrs. Parker’s sustained stress over the wedding preparations had unknowingly created an atmosphere of tension, affecting Atlas’s demeanor.

Understanding the ripple effect of her stress, Mrs. Parker prioritized self-care and relaxation techniques to manage her wedding-planning anxieties. She also allocated dedicated time for Atlas, engaging in calm, bonding activities like quiet walks and gentle play. Professional guidance was sought to help Atlas unlearn his newfound defensiveness, using positive reinforcement and controlled exposure to various stimuli. With time and consistent efforts, the harmony in the Parker household was restored, proving the profound interconnectedness between a dog’s behavior and the emotional environment they inhabit.


Excitement is a casual way of saying higher blood pressure, heart rate, and neuroresponse. Excitement is released by running, humping, and some times biting. The easiest fix is to start exercising your female dog so that she has an outlet for the sudden increase in heart rate. 

Kylo, a spirited Beagle with a nose for adventure, was a well-loved member of the Evans family. Known for his keen sense of smell and curious nature, Kylo had his quirks but was generally well-behaved. His monthly chiropractic sessions were routine, usually uneventful and beneficial for his health.

One particular visit to the chiropractor took an unexpected turn. Instead of the usual calm environment, the room buzzed with activity: three techs, the regular doctor, and an additional, visibly stressed doctor in a white coat. Kylo’s senses went into overdrive. Overwhelmed by the flurry of activity and unfamiliar energy, Kylo began to display signs of distress. He became anxious, repeatedly muzzle punching his owner in his heightened state. However, once the stressed doctor exited the room, Kylo’s agitation seemed to go away. 

For dogs like Kylo, who are particularly sensitive to their surroundings, an abrupt change or a crowded environment can be a source of significant stress. The combined unfamiliar presence of the additional doctor, his palpable tension, and the increased number of individuals in the room likely pushed Kylo into an overstimulated state, prompting the unusual behavior.

Resolution: Recognizing the triggers that had set Kylo off, the Evans decided to take preventive measures for future visits. They communicated with the clinic, requesting a heads-up if there would be additional personnel during Kylo’s sessions. They also began practicing calming techniques, using positive reinforcement to reward Kylo for relaxed behavior in new or crowded environments. Over time, with these proactive steps, Kylo’s visits to the chiropractor reverted to their usual calm, ensuring his well-being and that of those around him.

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 1: Desensitization Training


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. 


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. 


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. 


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


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