Chris Shaughness

author, speaker, animal lover

Behavior Problems,  All Articles

Redirected Aggression

Dog bites can take many forms. Some dogs may bite if you pet them while eating, others may bite if you try to take an object from them, and still others can bite out of fear. But there is a type of aggression that can be very unexpected yet equally dangerous. A dog who has never shown any aggression at all towards humans can accidentally bite. Redirected aggression can occur… when the dog is focused on an object that has him exceptionally excited.

The most likely scenario for redirected aggression is a dog fight. Dogs go into a ‘zone’ when they fight, especially the dog who started the fight. The dog is so absorbed by the attack that he is unaware of what else he is doing. Anyone who tries to separate the dogs runs the risk of getting bitten because the attacking dog senses the disruption to his focus. He is not meaning to harm the person but, because of the frenzy he is in, may bite whoever tries to thwart him.

Redirected aggression also can occur when the dog spots another animal through a window or a fence and begins to bark at it. The dog is frustrated by the inability to get to the animal and, again, is very focused on getting to the animal. If anyone tries to grab the dog to remove him, the dog may turn and bite. This also can happen if two dogs are standing side-by-side and a lot of excitement occurs, either because another animal is nearby or even if someone is offering both of them food.

To avoid redirected aggression, be sure to protect yourself. When breaking up a dog fight, cover the attacking dog with a blanket or use an air horn or whistle. Try to avoid putting your hands on the dog. If the dog is barking at something outside, try to distract the dog with a toy or a treat.