There are a number of reasons for aggression in dogs and I will not be going into detail on most. What I will discuss here is sudden onset of aggression in a normally non-aggressive dog and possible reasons for its appearance.
Aggression takes many forms. It can be directed towards other dogs, other species of animals, strangers, different classes of people such as kids, objects such as cars, or even at owners. It may be based on fear, dominance, possessiveness, territorial issues and others. For obvious reasons, any aggression is undesirable and one must always keep the safety of oneself and others in mind.
The first step is to eliminate physical causes by having a complete checkup performed by a veterinarian. Dogs that are suffering pain from arthritis, for example, will be more likely to growl or bite if they are inadvertently hurt, whether by a person or another dog rough-housing with them.
Other physical problems that may result in pain and aggression include, but are not limited to, dental disease, tumours, abdominal pain, constipation, bladder inflammation, reproductive organ problems, encephalitis and other neurological disorders, and many others. Some of these, if suspected, will take more extensive diagnostic tests to officially rule out. Once it is known what the cause is, the treatment modality can then be chosen, whether it is traditional medicine or alternative medicine, such as homeopathy, chiropractic or acupuncture.
If no physical problem is found, a careful history-taking may shed light on factors that may have precipitated the onset of aggression. For example, someone may have encouraged a dog to growl and lunge by offending them in some way, such as throwing objects at them while they are in their yard. If a thorough assessment finds no identifiable stimulus for the aggression, then it may be classified as “idiopathic” or “cause not yet determined”.
One important precipitating factor often overlooked is whether a vaccination was administered in the previous 1-3 months before the aggression began. Rabies vaccine-induced encephalitis is a recognized, but uncommon, sequelae to Rabies vaccination. Although not widely accepted by traditional veterinarians, those practicing homeopathy feel that Distemper vaccination may also result in a similar syndrome. Both of these viruses have a predilection for the brain tissue in their natural live state and their vaccines could potentially cause mild brain inflammation in susceptible dogs, leading to such conditions as behaviour changes or seizures. A number of dogs with these “vaccine-induced” aggressions have been helped by homeopathic remedies which work very well with a lot of behaviour problems.
Reactions to vaccines are amongst the reasons why a growing number of veterinarians and veterinary colleges advocate a reduced vaccination frequency of not less than 3 years between. In dogs that are aggressive or are already suffering from some other physical ailment, it is probably not a good idea to give boosters. Vaccine manufacturer’s labels state that the vaccines are for use in healthy pets only.
So, if you are not having luck “training” the aggression out of your dog, it might be time for an assessment to find out the underlying cause. Don’t give up but do play it safe and err on the side of caution.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is intended to provide accurate and helpful health information for the general public. The information should not be considered complete and does not cover all diseases, ailments, physical conditions or their treatment. It should not be used in place of a call or visit to a qualified veterinarian or competent professional, who should be consulted before adopting any of the suggestions in this site or drawing inferences from it.