Different Types Of Aggression In Huskies

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +
This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series National Dog Bite Prevention Week

When people say that they have an aggressive dog, they refer to it as if it was one nebulous generalized condition. But the truth is, there are a number of types of aggression that can occur in dogs.

The most common forms of aggression are Dominant, Territorial, and Predatory Aggression. Some dogs also show Fearful and Possessive Aggression. And some dogs can have more than one type of aggression. It becomes very important to recognize the differences so that you can know the best method of working with your Husky’s particular type of aggression also to be able to evaluate and recognize the potential for receiving a bite.

Sometimes dogs come into our lives already exhibiting signs of aggression while other times, owners unwittingly create and foster the developing aggression in their dogs. Regardless of why the aggression exists, owners must recognize the signs of aggression and understand why it exists in their dogs. Without this knowledge and understanding, the owner has no idea how to begin helping their dog.

Interpreting Communication Signals From Your Dog

The following signals are commonly sent by dogs with aggressive tendencies to show us how they might be feeling. Recognize and understand the different postures and behaviours so that you will be able to accurately predict a possible biting situation and to select the correct fix for your dog’s problem.

Classification of Aggression Types

The Dominant Aggressive Dog

Dominant dogs display and employ behaviours to influence and control people and other animals in their environment. They will be the dogs who will be most likely to mount other dogs and humans. Dominant Aggressive dogs are overly protective of their possessions and status so that these are the dogs that are most likely to be resource guarders.

These dogs will most likely not be very compliant to issued cues and will push back against any control imposed on them by humans. They will often display overtly pushy or obnoxious behaviours such as growling, snapping , or even biting to get their way. If the dog feels powerful and influential and the human or another dog display what they interpret to be submissive behaviours, a dominant dog will not hesitate to use disciplinary behaviours to get his way.

To a dominant dog, aggression is a viable means to control their environment. This means that the chances of receiving a bite from a Dominant Aggressive dog is extremely high. Never place yourself within striking range of dominant dog’s mouth.

The First Signs of Aggression

Dominant aggression usually shows itself very early on in a dogs life, from as young as a couple of months old. The pup may growl when you get too close to its food bowl or try to take a toy off of him.

If this behaviour isn’t corrected quickly, then its very likely to get worse as the dog gets older. They will eventually try to rule the house.

Don’t make excuses for your puppy, many owners say “oh he’s just a puppy”, but that’s exactly the point, if he’s only a pup and already showing signs of aggression, then it’s even more important to nip it in the bud. It’s highly unlikely that he will grow out of it without corrective behaviour.

The best case scenario is that the owner will have to deal with the issue when the dog gets older, but it will be much more difficult. The worst case scenario is that these dogs end up in shelters and are very difficult to re-home, often end up being put to sleep.

Postures and Behaviours of the Dominant Aggressive Dog

  1. The dog stands very tall and erect almost as if he was standing on tips of his toes in an effort to look as large and menacing as possible.
  2. He stands very rigidly so that he can move and react in an instant should he need to.
  3. He may be leaning forward slightly with his weight over his front legs to be ready to lunge forward in an attack.
  4. He may position himself leaning in and standing over top of a person or another dog as a sign of dominance.
  5. Tail is held erect, rigid, or possible quivering slightly at the tip.
  6. Head is carried erectly, ears erect and pointing slightly forward.
  7. Eyes with fixed gaze, unblinking
  8. Fur may be standing up in a line from the nape of the neck to down to the base of the tail.
  9. The dog may emit a growl through a closed mouth.

The Fix

You have to be the leader, although that doesn’t mean being aggressive with your dog, fighting aggression with aggression isn’t useful. If you’re unable to correct these behaviours alone, then obedience school or seeking out a dog behaviourist will be a big help.

First and foremost you need to change the dynamics of the household by learning and adopting strong leadership skills. Do not play games where the dog can win. When you feed the dog make it wait until you release him to eat. Do not let dominant dogs make their choices about how and when they comply to your commands.

If you must, purchase a muzzle to take away a dog’s opportunity to dominate by biting. Often neutering a male dog can help deal with aggression as it lowers the levels of testosterone. And finally, up your dog’s exercise quota. A tired dog is much less likely to be reactive or dominant because it has had its energy reserves drained.

Territorially Aggressive Dogs

Fiercely guarding their home is a common characteristic of some dogs. As puppies grow, unless they are otherwise shown, they begin to regard the yard, the home, and their possessions as their personal property. Territorial aggression why the mailman or the meter reader bitten.

Some dogs readily learn to differentiate between welcome guests and intruders but others do not. They are very good at sensing your attitude toward strangers so if you are fearful, these dogs know it and will reflect that same attitude.

The postures and behaviours of Territorially Aggressive dogs are similar to that of the Dominant Aggressive dog.

The Fix

Show strong leadership skills so the dog defaults to you for instruction when a stranger approaches. Socialize your Husky early and well so it is confident when meeting new people. Let your friends or willing strangers take the dog on short walks on a leash so he gets used to being around other people.

The most important thing you can do to keep your dog from becoming Territorially Aggressive is make it clear to the dog that he owns nothing. You own everything and you allow the dog to have these items. When there are no possessions to win or lose, there is less reason for the dog to be Territorially Aggressive.

Predatory Aggression

Many working dog breeds have a problem in this area. Huskies and Malamutes both tend to have a strong prey drive so that means that the sight and sound of young children playing and moving or other smaller animals moving quickly may be irresistible to your Snow Dog. This is also what drives many Huskies to hurl themselves into a group of other dogs that are playing with each other. The instinct to do so is just too overwhelming to resist.

That means that your Snow Dog will always need direct supervision when it comes to this natural reactivity. These dogs must be shown how to behave in a different way or they will assume that there is no problem with their current behaviour.

The Fix

Obedience training by every member of the family must be practiced, especially by those family members that the dog views as being ranked beneath them. These dogs are basically all lovely dogs, they just have a very strong natural urge to boss, dominate, or trap what they view to be “prey”.

This behaviour must always be corrected or the dog will assume that you are allowing it to continue. A sharp reprimand and a “no” is usually sufficient.

Tomorrow we talk about the other three kinds of Aggression, Offensive, Defensive, and Fearful .

As always, we welcome your questions, comments and stories regarding this issue. When we tell our stories we may well be helping someone who is struggling with their dog.

Helping ALL Snow Dogs … one owner at a time

Series Navigation<< How To Deal With An Aggressive HuskyOffensive, Defensive, and Fearful Aggressive Huskies >>
Share.

9 Comments

  1. I have no idea what is going on with my husky she is 5 years old I’ve had her since she was 2 she loved everything and everyone never bit or showed any aggression towards anyone now all of a sudden she’s bit and growled at me and my partner and she’s lunged at a dog the other day it happens every so often but i don’t know what’s going on with her

  2. I recently adopted a 2 month old siberian husky, and my female one year old had already snapped at one puppy before because it didnt stop crying, but with my new puppy, she is being an asshole, she already attacked her 5 times, each and one of them are random and weird, first one puppy was just walking by and she lunged at her and drew a lot of blood, today i just bent over to pick the puppy up and it whelped becauSe i spooked it, the olxer husky runs, lunges at her with me holding her, bit my finger in the proces and made a hole in the little one i litteraly had to hit her with the broom to make her release her. I really need help 🙁

  3. I was looking for a dog that I could go running, hiking, etc with. I haven’t owned a dog since I was like 12 or 13 years old (about 20 years ago) and that was a toy poodle. So basically I’d be a new dog owner. I was interested in adopting a Husky, but I get the feeling it would not be right breed for me at this point. Any dog I’d do obedience training with, but I just wanted your opinion. Do you think I should wait until I have experience as a dog owner before adopting a Husky?

  4. My new female husky is six month old. Se is agressive towards my wife only, apparently for no reason. We got her yesterday and in the first night she became fearful and agressive with my wife. We have tried different approaches, from using snacks to recrimmination, to forcing the dog to lie down and receive grooming. It does not work. Why did the dog choose one member of the family to become agressive with? How do we make it stop?

  5. my 7-year-old female husky bites people, even me, the owner.
    and i think she is sort of dominant aggressive & territorially aggressive dog.
    she bites when
    1. trying to get the sleeper or snack (anything she thinks belongs to her) stolen from her
    2. disturbing her badly when she’s eating
    3. beating or trying to beat her
    4. anytime when she looks strange( i can tell when she shows a strange look)
    besides, she shakes right after making serious mistakes like stealing a bread just in front of me. (my sister used to beat her when she made a mistake) but she bited my sister or the stick heavily though she was shaking.
    i never beat her, but i find her becoming stranger and stranger. unlikely to play with other dogs or people who are friendly to her.
    and she begins to bite dogs , which would never happen in the past.
    i spent less time with her because of my work.
    i think this may have some influence on her behavior.
    feel sad and frustrated very much .. who can help my husky and me ??

  6. I would not keep the dog. Reading your posting, I hear how you make excuses for the dog’s behavior. Too many danger signals.

  7. Going Lun-y on

    We just adopted a husky (female) on 9/9/16. My daughter is 13 and my son are 8. She (we named her Luna) was able to meet my daughter before the adoption, but not my son as he was gone for the weekend. Luna is so sweet and has so many ‘submissive’ behaviors (ears down, head down, roll on back, waits for you to go through the door, the list goes on…). When my son came home, she allowed him to pet her, kissed him and all seemed fine. Shortly after (same evening), he went to grab a toy of his from where he was playing and she lunged to bite him, but he pulled away and I told her no. Five mins later, he jumped from the deck stairs to the grass and she lunged towards him, but didn’t bite, however, she looked at me very strangely when I said “NO”. It was unblinking and almost territorial as she stood next to my son. I sent him inside, picked up his toys and she went back to ‘normal’.

    The following morning, I decided I would put Luna outside when my son woke up until we knew what was going on. Of course, if she had wanted to hurt him, she could have, but I was very uncomfortable with how these events were unfolding. My son awoke and was talking to me, I walked towards the back door to put Luna out, my son followed behind me talking. Luna followed my son, sprinted up beside him, bit his hand and was on her way out the door by the time he said “Ow, she bit me!”. I told her “NO,” closed the door with her outside and turned around behind me to look at my son’s hand. There were two small dots where she had broken the first couple layers of skin, but no blood.

    I don’t want to have to return Luna. I don’t want her to bite my son! Of course she could have bitten much harder/caused much further damage, I know this. Am I the resource she is protecting? Is she just not used to such small children? She seems so docile with me, my husband and my 13 year old daughter. Does she think he is a toy/cat? I just don’t understand. Do I try to work with her at my son’s possible detriment?

    We are contacting a behavioral specialist today (they are from the humane society we got Luna from), but I would appreciate a Husky expert’s input. Maybe Luna is best with a family that has only older children or adults. We don’t know much about her other than she came in as a stray on 8/24/16, was adopted on 9/2/16 and returned on 9/8/16 by that person because of the mess she caused with separation anxiety when left alone. She’s been through a lot in a couple of weeks. I wasn’t too worried as I have had so many dogs (aggressive and non), and my husband has had 2 Huskies (aggressive and non), but I don’t want to risk my son’s well-being/health, etc.

    Thanks for reading my rant. I would really appreciate any input.

    • Rachel Snyder on

      My childhood dog was like this while I was young. She looked at me as though I was benieth her. As I grew that changed. However, dogs also tend to see the person who controle the food as above them. Perhaps try to have your son control the food. Hold the dog while he places the food in the bowl. Let the dog watch him do it. Let your son tell her to go get it. It might increase your son on the pecking order 🙂

  8. My husband and I rescued a 5yr. Old husky from a neighbor a year ago. For most of his life they had him chained up out front. I would always give him water, food and try to provide shade. The previous owner treated him horribly. Also he would never discipline him when he would bark aggressively at other dogs and certain people when they would walk by. He is a lovely dog but we are trying to break him of his horrible habit of barking aggressively at certain dogs that walk by house. At times we will let him out front -behind a picket fence but if a certain dog walks by he will raise his hair on his back and bark terribly at the dog. There is a blind man with his dog that when he first walked by both his dog and mine growled horribly. Now when he comes by my dog still barks horribly at his dog. I started using a water bottle and would squirt him to stop him, it worked very little. Also a man with 2 Huskies -1 female which my dog didn’t growl at but the second dog was a male not neutered that never barked at my dog, however it was the worst time I’ve seen my dog so aggressive- especially showing his teeth. Eventually his hair went down and his tail, but he still growled showing his teeth. As the man stopped and talked he told me that when my dog live with the old owner that my dog would run away at times and end up at his house. And my dog and his 2 huskies would play in his backyard and never fight! So why is my dog so aggressive toward his male now?? How can I break him of this horrible behavior? We can take him to a beach and let him off leash and he is fine with other dogs even males. But here at home he is aggressive. Please we welcome help!!!

Leave a comment