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What is Aggression Toward Familiar People?

Aggression in dogs toward familiar people is a frustrating situation that dog owners may face during the ownership of their companion. Growling, barking, biting, snarling, lunging, or any type of aggressive behavior can be caused by a variety of reasons. Many people view the term “aggression” in different ways; some feel that if a dog bites a familiar person it is considered aggression, while others may feel that a growl or snarl to a familiar person is a signal for aggression. What is important to understand is that if a dog has been a member of your family for a period of time and has had time to “bond” with everyone, it is important to be mindful of any behavioral changes. If your companion has never snarled or growled before, and all of a sudden begins to do that (without being threatened or provoked) then it may be time to visit the veterinarian.

Aggression in dogs toward familiar people occurs when a dog, well known to its family or family friends, becomes aggressive towards them, causing emotional harm or physical harm to his loved ones.

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Aggression Toward Familiar People Average Cost

From 22 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Aggression Toward Familiar People in Dogs

Aggression is on such a wide spectrum of behaviors, and that is why it is so important to keep a documentation of any regular “times” or “triggers” that are leading to any negative change in behavior of the dog. Symptoms can include:

  • Snarling
  • Lip licking
  • Biting
  • Barking
  • Growling
  • Lunging
  • Having a tense or stressed demeanor
  • Inability to relax in certain situations
  • Being unhappy or seemingly irritated
  • Moodiness
  • Averting their gaze
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety

Types

There are many types of aggression in dogs and it can occur in many different situations. Types include: 

  • Dominance aggression
  • Aggression related to an incident
  • Competitive aggression
  • Conflict aggression
  • Maternal aggression
  • Anxiety induced aggression
  • Pain related aggression
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Causes of Aggression Toward Familiar People in Dogs

Aggression can occur more often in certain breeds if not handled properly. There are breeds that are known or considered to be more aggressive than others, and this is still widely debated. Studies do show that this is the case at times. Causes of aggressiveness toward familiar people can include:

  • Inconsistent training
  • Hectic environment
  • Mishandling of the dog
  • Improper and inappropriate discipline of the dog
  • Neglect
  • Genetics
  • Underlying medical conditions
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Diagnosis of Aggression Toward Familiar People in Dogs

If your dog has suddenly or gradually over time become aggressive toward you, other family members, or friends, it is imperative to make an appointment with your veterinarian before the symptoms progress. The veterinarian will ask for a detailed history of the dog, including his home environment, habits, routines, discipline, training, and any other questions he feels is necessary to properly diagnose the underlying condition, if any.

The veterinarian will perform a complete examination which may include medical testing, such as blood work, a urinalysis and other tests. It is very important to tell your veterinarian of any changes in diet, or if the dog is showing any symptoms of illness. The medical professional will check for anxiety issues or dominance issues by asking you specific questions pertaining to these disorders.

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Treatment of Aggression Toward Familiar People in Dogs

With a diagnosis of aggression, the veterinarian will usually recommend a tailored program so it doesn’t become worse. Treatment may include:

Behavioral Therapy

This will often be the main form of treatment, and the veterinarian will usually recommend a canine behaviourist to help your dog and your family. Behavioral therapy may include modification of the dog’s behavior, desensitization, eliminating triggers, training and much more. The behavioral therapist must get to know your dog and may come into the home to help you, and will even teach you strategies to help your dog. This may take time, and things may have to be eliminated from the dog’s life in order to decrease his aggression, but will be worth it in the end.

Medication

If your dog is suffering from anxiety, the veterinarian may choose to prescribe medication. This is questionable and debated, though, because what is crucial in dog aggression is to address the underlying issue. If the dog has an illness that has caused him to suddenly become aggressive the veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate medication if needed e.g. pain relief and anti-inflammatories for joint disease.

Lifestyle Change

Making sure that your home environment is calm and predictable may be a recommendation by the veterinarian or behavioral therapist. If you do not have a routine with your dog, and his day-to-day living is very unpredictable, a change will need to be made. Consistent and proper routine management is one step to helping dog aggression.

Diet

There are times when a low-protein and high-tryptophan diet may help in conjunction with therapies and any medication.

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Recovery of Aggression Toward Familiar People in Dogs

Recovery and management depends on the severity of the aggression. Dogs can be cured of this, but it does take much dedication and time from you, the loving and patient owner. Many dogs who display aggression towards familiar people are rehomed or surrendered to an animal shelter.  If a dog has attacked a person, causing suffering and severe injury, they may be euthanized. This is why it is crucial to get the dog’s aggressiveness under control before it is too late. The dog’s chances of recovery are much higher if he is taken to the veterinarian and started on therapy early on.

Recovery takes time, perhaps years, and over this time the methods learned must be followed. Follow-up visits with the veterinarian and behavioral therapist (if the therapy has ended) are necessary to be sure the dog is on the path to recovery. There is no “cure” for dog aggression; however, there are ways to drastically minimize any recurrences. It takes dedication and persistence from the whole family in order to help the dog with this condition.

For most dogs, training is a walk in the dog park. But if you’re having trouble with training, consider investing in pet insurance. Many plans cover prescribed behavior modification for conditions like separation anxiety. Plan ahead and start searching for pet insurance today.

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Aggression Toward Familiar People Average Cost

From 22 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$500

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Aggression Toward Familiar People Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Labstaff

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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8 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Our dog was not socialized as a puppy due to the pandemic. We adopted him about 2 months ago but he growls and barks at things he is unfamiliar with. Recently he has began showing aggression towards our 7 year old son. He whines or begins to bark when we are interacting with our son and today growled at our son for being in the same room. We figure professional training could help, but in the meantime, what should we do?

Feb. 27, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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8 Recommendations

Hello, yes a professional dog trainer would be best. In the mean time try to reward your dogs good behavior with treats when your son comes into the room and doesn’t growl give your dog a treat and tell them they are good.

Feb. 27, 2021

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Dachshund

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Nine Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

sudden aggression. Biting

Dec. 20, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, SO sorry to hear that your dog is suddenly having aggression issues. He could have a medical issue causing him to be aggressive. Things like GI pain and back pain can cause dogs to bite if they are hurting. Some dogs develop dementia as they get older and will also be more aggressive. It would be best for your vet to examine your dog to see if there is anything wrong. After that, try figuring out what is starting these aggressive behaviors. Then you can start with training him to not react to these instances aggressively.

Dec. 27, 2020

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Aggression Toward Familiar People Average Cost

From 22 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$500

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

Compare plans
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