There are many reasons why a dog may be aggressive towards family members. The most common causes include conflict aggression, fear-based aggression, defensiveness, status-related aggression, possessive aggression, food-preserving aggression, and diversionary aggression. Living with an aggressive dog with family members can be difficult, dangerous, disappointing, and frustrating (see Aggression – Diagnosis and Overview).

According to the CDC, 800,000 people seek medical attention for dog bites each year, half of which are children (see Aggression – Children). Dog bites are not uncommon; These are common events that occur in the life of the average family and it is estimated that 15% of dog owners have been bitten by their own dog. Once bitten by a dog, at least in that situation, children have demonstrated a willingness to use biting as a behavioral strategy and are therefore more likely to bite. Dogs that are willing to be aggressive to change the outcome of a situation are rarely curable.

The severity of the bite can be assessed by carefully considering the situation, the damage caused by the bite, the choices the dog makes including the dog’s willingness to avoid escalating to the point of being injured. bite by growling, growling or biting and diagnosing the type of aggressive behavior. . Complicated cases may require the experience of a board-certified veterinary behaviorist to evaluate and prioritize this assessment.

Safety and preventing bites is a necessary first step; both in keeping family members safe and initiating the behavior modification process. First, identify all situations that could lead to aggressive behavior and prevent access to these situations (by confinement or confinement, muzzle, or environmental manipulation) or control the dog when confrontation may occur (e.g. chain and head restraint, fastening). It is then essential to avoid these situations to prevent further injury and learning. While the long-term goal is to reduce or eliminate the potential for aggression in these situations, each new episode can lead to injury and worsen the problem. Collars and headbands are a good way to control and deter aggressive behavior even indoors. A properly fitted muzzle is even more effective at preventing bites and can be helpful in some cases. The dog is unlikely to change his behavior without retraining and the dog learns from every opportunity to practice his aggression; so limit his chances for more aggressive encounters

Once families decide to begin a behavior modification program for aggression, their ability to keep everyone safe and prevent episodes of aggression must be continually reevaluated. If unsafety occurs frequently, accidental bites or new bites occur in new and unforeseen circumstances, the decision to keep and treat this dog must be reevaluated.