Dr. Debra Primovic lists the different types of dog aggression and recommends therapy.

Ask Dr. Debra: How Do I Stop My Dog from Being Aggressive?

This Week’s Question:

My Alfie follows all commands, and is well trained in that respect, but sometimes, for absolutely no reason, he will attack my husband and bite him in a frenzied manner. It’s very difficult to distract him and make him stop. Afterwards, he is just fine, acting like his normal calm and obedient self. My husband wants to get rid of him. How can I stop Alfie from acting like this? I am desperate.

Mags Penney

Dr. Debra’s Answer:

Hi Mags,

I’m so sorry to hear about your problem with Alfie. Aggression with any dog is very concerning and should be taken seriously.

There are many causes and types of aggression. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) categorizes canine aggression in six groups:

The causes and treatments are different for each type. Learn more here.

I wish I could give you a simple answer that would fix your problem, but that is not the case. My recommendation is to consult with your veterinarian or local college of veterinary medicine to seek a behavioral consultation. Some services involve you taking your dog into the hospital, while others are capable of being conducted at home. I’m sure they will have a very detailed series of questions for you that include diet, exercise, health history, aggression triggers, and much more. They will also want to do some routine blood work and check thyroid levels to look for underlying medical abnormalities, as these could influence their recommendation for treatment.

We wish you the best of luck!

With warm regards,

Dr. Debra

Please note: Dr. Debra’s guidance should not be considered veterinary advice like that provided by your veterinarian, since she is unable to personally examine your pet. If you have an immediate concern or emergency, contact a veterinarian or local veterinary hospital about your specific situation.