know when your pup needs space

When pups are aggressive or act out

Everyone has bad days, even puppies. It’s not uncommon for an otherwise friendly puppy to act aggressively toward another dog, and there are tons of reasons why that might happen. But you definitely want to get to the root of the problem so you can address it and avoid these negative interactions.

A cartoon puppy nervously moves away from another dog

Why puppies get cranky

It can be upsetting when the puppy you love reacts aggressively, but it’s important to understand why it’s happening. Pups don’t have the same coping strategies that people do when they’re stressed, like taking time out or deep breaths. So, when a pup is feeling threatened, anxious, or just off, they’re more likely to act out aggressively in response. And their need for space can vary by day, location, person, or even other dogs.

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Why are they acting this way?

There are numerous reasons why a pup may act out in anger, so you’ll need to watch your pup for possible triggers. Once you know what sets them off, you can work to address that situation.

  • They don't feel well, and need to see the vet
  • Recovering from injury or surgery
  • A painful physical condition
  • Fear of unfamiliar people or situations
  • Fear of unfamiliar or rowdy dogs
  • They are a less social breed and need thoughtful training
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What can you do to help?

Negative or aggressive altercations can traumatize a pup, no matter which side of the interaction they’re on. That’s because animals faced with a threatening situation release stress hormones as a fight or flight response. They’ll then either try to flee (flight) or engage (you guessed it, fight). This reaction may get complicated when a pup is leashed. Because their flight options are limited, a pup that would be fine otherwise may feel more aggressive on the leash. Here are some positive steps you can take:

  • Obey all leash laws (at all times, everywhere)
  • Ask permission for your pup to approach another dog
  • Watch for signs of anxiety, distress, or aggression in your dog
  • Immediately remove your pup from the situation if you detect negativity
  • Understand that pups respond differently when they’re leashed and unleashed
  • Also understand that pups may also respond differently if other dogs are leashed or unleashed

Read more about puppy aggression

How Banfield can help

Talk to your veterinary team if your pup is aggressive. They can help you rule out or treat health conditions that may be causing your pup’s snappy responses. They may also be able to refer you to more resources, like animal behavioralists, who can work with you on a positive training regime for your pet.

Make an appointment

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