Why Your Dog Is Aggressive Towards People and How You Can Manage It

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Have you recently been in a situation where your dog aggressively growled and barked at people, and you just didn’t know what was wrong? Is this getting more frequent? 

You may be wondering: What’s wrong? Has my dog developed aggression? If so, why is it only directed towards humans? Is my dog suddenly a threat?

Take a breath, friend.

Your dog is not a threat to society. But, it might have developed a particular type of aggression: People Aggression. 

And, if you’re worried about the safety of other humans around you and your dog, we’re here to help. In this post, we’ll discuss why a dog may show aggression towards humans and what you can do to fix it.

Types of People Aggression

There are two types of dog-to-human aggression. It is likely for canines to show either one of these, or both:

Aggression towards strangers

The first type is when a dog shows aggression towards strangers. This can happen if the dog is uncomfortable with them, or something from their appearance triggers it. For example, men with beards. Due to this discomfort, the dog will try to maintain distance between itself and the person by either fleeing the area or barking aggressively.   

Your dog’s aggression majorly depends on whether it was bred as a guard dog or socialized as a puppy. Whatever the case is, when a dog shows aggression to a stranger, its underlying emotion is fear and anxiety.

Aggression towards family members

The second type is when a dog shows aggression towards family members. Of course, that’s something you often don’t see coming unless your dog has a history of aggression. 

In most cases, if your dog feels uneasy, it growls— communicating that you (or the said family member) need to stay away.  You must respect its emotions and maintain your distance before it feels provoked to attack you. A warning signal before going for the bite is generally a good sign because if the aggression is unpredictable, the dog poses more threat to you and your family.

Why Dogs May Show Aggression Towards Strangers

With strangers, aggression is mainly due to:

Territorial aggression

Dogs are territorial by nature. They live in any place for some time, which becomes their home, and then they swear paws to defend it from intruders.

The problem arises when your dog doesn’t differentiate between a stranger who could be a friend and an intruder who tries to break into the house. It’d only see an unknown face stepping on the porch of its territory.

If your dog is not well trained or groomed and has not socialized much with people, then it’d abide by its territorial nature and bark at every stranger who comes near the house. 

Protective aggression

Dogs are social animals who prefer to live together in packs with family and friends. They are very protective of their friends and families. 

So, if your dog feels that a certain stranger looks like a threat (even if they’re not) to family, it’ll try to protect you by charging aggressively toward them and scaring them away. 

Fear aggression

Fear aggression in dogs is when they are cornered or trapped, the fear comes kicking in, and they resort to violence to protect themselves from the danger. Strangers may make a dog fearful by approaching it even if they intend to pat it. 

This is why, it is always best to not approach a dog you don’t know, whether on a leash or not, because you never know if it’s trained and socialized with humans.

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Why Dogs May Show Aggression Towards Family Members

If you have a kid, you may have noticed how children often throw tantrums because they don’t know how to communicate their issues or get you to understand. That’s more or less what happens when a dog is aggressive toward your family. 

The following are the main reasons why a dog may show aggression toward family members:

Frustration-elicited aggression

Frustration-elicited aggression is when a dog is excited or aroused by something and wants to reach it, but the owner holds it back. The dog retaliates with aggression and attacks the leash or hands holding it.

There can be many occasions in your household when you or your family member hold the dog back. However, you have to keep in mind even well-trained and well-mannered dogs can show frustration-elicited aggression.

Pain-elicited aggression

Even a friendly and gentle dog can breathe fire when in pain. You need to be careful and take precautions when handling your injured dog. 

When handled without care, a dog with a painful injury or infection will bite without giving warning signals, even if you were trying to treat it. 

Possessive aggression

Many dogs are very possessive of their possessions, such as toys and chew bones. When someone tries to take their possession, they tend to show aggression to get it back. So, if you pick your dog’s toy away, it might protest by showing aggression. 

How to Manage People Aggression in Dogs?

Some dogs are not trained as puppies and grow up with behavioral issues. You have to fix your dog’s behavior if it has started showing signs of aggression. 

Your first step should be to see your veterinarian for possible injuries. If your dog’s aggression is not pain-elicited, then call in a professional trainer to train your dog. 

It’ll take time for your dog to learn. However, try not to punish your dog for bad behavior. Instead, give a treat for every good behavior.


Your dog can get aggressive towards people for many reasons. Whatever the reason for your dog’s people aggression may be— you must pinpoint exactly what is going on. For that, you must first contact a veterinarian and then seek professional help.

Also, if you notice a dog showing signs of aggression, pick the warning signals and do not approach it. Instruct your family members and any stranger that your furry pal is aggressive towards to do the same.  Here at Off Leash K9 Training, we specialize in helping with those Aggression cases.  

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