It’s very upsetting when a formerly friendly stray shows aggression to us seemingly out of the blue.
Not only does it make us wonder what we did wrong, but also makes it difficult to help the dog.
The life of a stray dog can be difficult (to say the least).
Inhumane conditions and cruel people don’t help.
When dogs are exposed to the difficulties of life on the street, they don’t just suffer physically, but emotionally as well.
Let’s explore this issue some more and learn why a friendly stray could turn so quickly…and how we can help.
Why Strays Show Aggression
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Why is this stray dog suddenly aggressive towards me?
I tried to make friends with a stray dog. He started out loving (so much so, that I was able to get him into my yard). However, that all changed (seemingly on a dime).
For two days he stayed curled up asleep and growled at me when I approached him. When I tried to pet him he snapped and lunged at me. It was very disheartening, and, to be truthful, a bit scary.
Why was this happening?
There are reasons why an otherwise friendly stray dog can suddenly turn to aggression.
One of those reasons is a response to pain. Since strays most likely haven’t been to a vet in quite some time (if ever), they could be suffering from any number of pain-related health issues. These can include;
- Dental Issues
- Hip Dysplasia
- Joint Problems
- Ear (or other) Infections
- Cuts, Bruises, Scrapes, etc.
Another reason why a stray may become suddenly aggressive is that it has contracted Lyme disease. This tick-transmitted illness has many symptoms like fever, inflammation, lameness, etc.. Studies have even shown that some dogs will also exhibit sudden aggression due to this condition.
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Fear, stress, and anxiety can also play a role in a stray dog’s behavior. When these are triggered, any dog (much less a stray) can exhibit the “fight or flight” response. If the dog decides it needs to “fight” it may lunge, snarl, growl, and try to nip.
If you had to live on the streets, whatever you find that is good (i.e., food, shelter, comfort, water), you would want to protect fiercely. Dogs may show aggression when they perceive their food bowl, a resting place, or their favorite toy is in jeopardy.
As with our poor stray in our opening question, a thorough examination by a veterinarian would need to take place to rule out any underlying health issues. Once that has occurred, the vet could either recommend treatment or the enlistment of a professional trainer to help with behavior modification.
6 Tips For Dealing With an Aggressive Dog
this poor guy was abandoned in the street a couple weeks ago and has been running around Ditman and Orthodox since hes a sweet dog and let me bring him into my yard but I can't keep him, I've called @acctphilly several times since I took him into my yard Saturday and every time they say someone will be out to pick him up… its now Monday, day 3 of this rescue and I have no idea what is going on #straydog #abandoneddog #hedeservesbetter #pleasehelpthisdog
Any dog can suddenly become aggressive, but strays are more likely to act out. Here are 6 tips for dealing with an aggressive dog.
Tip #1 – Stop and be still.
Keep calm and remember, the dog is reacting out of fear, pain, illness, or self-protection.
Tip #2 – Do NOT run, make any sudden moves or turn your back on the animal.
Some dogs like to chase and may have a strong prey drive. By running, you are only eliciting this behavior. You will also want to keep him in your sight at all times.
Tip #3 – Slowly turn so your side is towards the dog, but you can still see him in your peripheral site.
In doggy language, this action is saying “I don’t want to fight.” On the contrary, facing a dog square-on can be interpreted as a challenge (so don’t do it!).
Tip #4 – Keep your eyes low and avoid direct eye contact.
This too can be misinterpreted as a threat.
Tip #5 – Slowly back away from the dog by making your body as small and non-threatening as possible.
Avoid direct eye contact as you do so. Once you are safe, call your local animal control or police department, Give them the location and description of the canine.
Tip #6 – If you are bitten, do not pull away.
This action will only cause the dog to clamp down more. Try to remain calm and attempt to put an object (like a purse or backpack) between you and the dog.
This past week, we took a trip to Enseñada, Mexico. There, we met MANY dogs, most of which were strays. It broke our hearts to see so many precious pups out there on the streets alone and scared. Although some of them don’t have names, we believe that all dogs are beautiful and kind creatures that deserve love, no matter where they live. #dogs #dogsofinstagram #straydogsofinstagram #straydog #straydogs #straydoglove #lovealldogs #lovealldogsintheworld #dogsoftheworld
If you find yourself in a life-threatening situation where the dog is viciously attacking you, then you will have to use any force necessary to save yourself. Unfortunately, this may include using your feet to kick and hands to hit the dog in the throat, nose, and the back of the head. Once you have stunned the animal, make your escape.
Stray Dog Sudden Aggression
If you have taken on a stray dog or have encountered one that has suddenly turned aggressive, then do what you can to stay safe, and call the proper authorities. These animals may be suffering from any number of health issues or mental problems, so leave it to the folks that have the appropriate skill-set is best.
Unfortunately, with my stray I had to call the local shelter to step in and remove him from my yard. As it turned out he was very old and suffering from a host of illnesses. But at least his last few days weren’t spent on the tough, mean streets. He knew love and friendship, no matter how brief.
Have you tried to make friends with a stray? Was it successful? Have you ever dealt with sudden aggression in a stray? Let us know in the comment’s section.