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Common Canine Aggression Theories | What Makes a Dog Bad

Dogs are man’s best friend, right? Well, it all depends on the man. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the United States. Although many of these bites result in tiny scrapes or shallow puncture wounds, almost 20 percent of all dog bites lead to hospitalization due to lacerations requiring stitches and treatment for infections.

When you look at a dog, most people see lovable, loyal creatures—and most of the time what you see is what you get. So, what happens to these animals that cause them to switch from adoring pets into attackers?

Aggression Origins

There are numerous studies, media campaigns, educated and non-educated opinions alike, and social media blogs from around the world that explore why dogs and animals in general spontaneously become aggressive toward other animals. The more commonly held beliefs suggest that the following factors may contribute to spontaneous aggression or violent behavior:

  • Trauma. Some theories suggest that past trauma can cause a dog to be suspicious and more prone to aggressive behavior.
  • Breed. A common belief is that certain dog breeds—such as the pit bull, German Shepherd, and Rottweiler—are inherently more violent than others.
  • Animal instinct. Some theories suggest that domesticated animals retain certain aggressive instincts that were once needed in the wild. Therefore, these instincts may bubble to the surface when the dog feels threatened.
  • Societal treatment. One of the most intriguing theories, however, pertains to societal treatment. In other words, man can be to blame.

Liability of Dog Owners

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) suggests that canine behavioral problems are a direct result of poor treatment imposed upon them by modern society. In other words, how an owner treats his dog shapes how that dog behaves and deals with aggression. When dogs feel stressed, uncared for, threatened, neglected, or injured, they become anxious and are more prone to act out when provoked.

Although you may not always think about it, you need to understand that domestically trained animals, such as dogs, not only retain animalistic urges, but are forced to reconcile those urges with human contact and behavior. That being said, just as you may sometimes lose control, dogs can lose control as well—resulting in painful catastrophic consequences.

Does Reason Remove Blame?

No matter which theory of canine aggression you choose to believe, the fact that there may be a reason for an attack doesn’t diminish liability or eliminate the pain. The owner of a dog, whether physically responsible for his aggression or not, may still be legally liable for his actions. If you believe you or a loved one was bitten or attacked by an unprovoked canine, you need to speak with an experienced dog attack lawyer today to learn more about your rights.

Let us know how you feel about these theories of canine aggression by leaving your thoughts in the comment section provided. Should attacks be solely blamed on the animal, or should owners be held accountable?