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Aggressive dog or just excited?

Maya
November 23rd, 2006, 02:28 AM
This evening there was a dog tied up in front of the market I go to and he started barking and lunging at people passing by including myself. He seemed really out of control snarling and bearing his teeth. Then his parents came out, a couple and the fellow announced that he's just excited. I'm curious if anyone can say what they think might have been going on here? He did start wagging his tail but he didn't exactly seem happy. Sorry if this is a stupid sounding question I've never had a dog i'm just curious.

angeldogs
November 23rd, 2006, 04:49 AM
don't know.i was told just because a dog is wagging is tail doesn't mean he's happy.

tenderfoot
November 23rd, 2006, 10:38 AM
Yes, a wagging tail does not always mean a happy dog. You have to read all of the body language and circumstances to understand the dog.

To say 'he's just excited' means nothing. Sure he was excited - aggressive dogs, happy dogs, protective dogs, guard dogs, playful dogs, mean dogs are all excited too.

The key is to understand why he was acting that way, and it sounds like his people don't really understand him.

The behaviors you describe sound more like fear based aggression/assertion. A dog doesn't have to really be mean or actually apt to bite to behave in an aggressive manner. He was tied (ability to flee, defend himself or his people is restricted) and his leaders (pack) were missing so he had no back up. He choose to act assertively in order to keep strange people away. This ultimately kept him safe. The problem comes in that he learned it worked and next time he is likely to do it again and perhaps even get nastier. If his people are so out of touch and excuse this behavior then it will just perpetuate itself.

This does not mean he is a truely mean dog - he is just scared and without good leadership or guidance. But even a scared dog can bite (most aggression is fear based), so go with your gut and not what his people said.

mummummum
November 23rd, 2006, 12:58 PM
Not only are his people seemingly oblivious to the cause underlying his "excited" behaviour ~ they are either naive or just plain don't care that he could a/ be stolen, b/be injured by someone or something or c/ injure someone else in their absence.

Maya
November 23rd, 2006, 02:23 PM
Thank you all for the input and Tenderfoot everything you explained makes sense. I initially stopped and stayed back to try and show him that I was more concerned about him than the behaviour but then his parents came along and i wasn't helping so moved on. (it was also a very busy area which didn't help) I think he was a Border Collie and that surprised me because I've only seen smaller dogs act in a similar way and never that dramatic. I wish I could have calmed him somehow but he did seem like he might have attacked if I got too close.

mummummum I also really feel for all the dogs that are left outside of stores. They are so vulnerable out there and it really bothers me to see them sitting on the cold cement for so long.

Thanks!

Prin
November 23rd, 2006, 02:49 PM
It also depends on your perspective too... While you saw a snarling, snapping dog, to a more experienced dog owner, it could have been something else, maybe.:shrug:

MyBirdIsEvil
November 23rd, 2006, 03:15 PM
Hard to tell without actually seeing the dog.
I used to have a rottweiler when I was younger, who would scare people because she'd bark really loud at the fence,growl and jump up at the fence (parents chose to keep her outside not me, the neighbors had been starving her so we took her).
It wasn't aggressive behavior though, she wanted someone to look at her, and if they did she'd start whining and wiggling everywhere trying to get someone to come pet her.

Her growl was a high pitched growl with her head in the air though (kinda sounded like "woo-woo" with a growly undertone) as a bid for attention. A low pitched angry aggressive growl sounds different.

The snarling and bearing teeth definately sounds like aggression though, as if he'd bite, not a bid for attention. Dogs don't bear their teeth and snarl when they want attention, that's usually a sign that they want you to stay away.

Colubridz
November 23rd, 2006, 03:54 PM
Just wanted to add one comment to add to what everyone has said. I agree that without actually being their it's very hard to accurately asses excactly what the behaviour was. However tieing up a dog in public is generally a very bad idea as dogs on teathers of any length in public areas have no ways of escaping and can go from flight to fight very quickly, no matter how friendly and well socialized your dog is, without you around he might panic and if someone he percieves as scary or dangerous approachs him or went to pet him he may feel his only choice is to protect himself as he has no way of escaping. Early civilizations even had written out instructuions on how to make a good gaurd dog which basically consisted of tieing the dog up on a very short teether right outside their huts so if a bear or other large predator came along the dog would have no choice but to react aggressively instead of being able to escape the situation and it's barking and snarling would awaken the rest of it's "pack".

Also like mumumumum said while in public tied up your dog is at risk of being attacked by stupid passer buyers who can stay out of the bite range while throwing things at the dog or taunting it. So in the future if possible it's better to either bring someone along with you who can keep you dog occupied outside of the store until your done, or just give him/her an extra long walk/play session right before you leave so they'll be tired out while your gone.

Cheers
Kayla

Maya
November 23rd, 2006, 05:51 PM
Hard to tell without actually seeing the dog.
I used to have a rottweiler when I was younger, who would scare people because she'd bark really loud at the fence,growl and jump up at the fence (parents chose to keep her outside not me, the neighbors had been starving her so we took her). It wasn't aggressive behavior though, she wanted someone to look at her, and if they did she'd start whining and wiggling everywhere trying to get someone to come pet her

Yes I agree it is hard to "diagnose" behaviour without seeing it. Also I know what you mean about the loud barking whining and even growly tone not necessarily being a sign of aggression. Usually when I stop to say hello to a dog that is making lots of noise they will either stop and want my attention or ignore me because they really just want their parents.

I think everyone knows that fighting sound though, it's like "uh o I hope something is not being ripped to shreds". This really stopped people in their tracks which isn't easy to do downtown because there is so much commotion.