Thoughts on redirected aggression

One type of aggression in dogs that is often misunderstood and puzzling is redirected aggression. This occurs when a dog redirects his aggression from one source to another. We see this during our leashed walks when Loki barks and lunges at certain neighboring dogs. Because he is unable to reach that dog, he redirects his aggression to Jujube. Fortunately, he doesn’t bite her, but he does lunge and bark in her face. She puts up with it and doesn’t react.

I can’t say that I know much about how to deal with it other than managing each occurrence individually. Since the two of them are both on leash, it’s not terribly difficult to hold them back. Then, I just keep moving forward to try to get his attention on something else. I don’t linger around the source of his aggression. I hope this approach is good enough, because I’m not quite sure what to do if his behavior became more severe.

Although it seems like an odd sort of behavior, I can’t help but to relate it to humans. Humans display redirected aggression all the time. This is what happens when one person “takes it out” on another. After suffering from a bad day at work, some adults come home and take it out on their family members. It can range from just being snappier to being abusive. Interesting parallel, isn’t it?


Anonymous said...

Most rational educated humans don't redirect anger to another. Most of the time when anger is directed to someone, they're responsible for it. Some people,however, don't want to take responsibility and conveniently dismiss it as redirected anger (like they did not cause it).

For example, I know of certain neighborhood where everyone think they are right and the neighbors are wrong. Directly next to my friend's house, there live pot smoker couple who smoke in their backyard, not even considering it is annoyance to the neighbor next door. Another one of her neighbors have screaming brats in their yard all the time. These people don't even have normalcy to even say sorry for all the troubles they cause. And if they're repremanded, they think they're not responsible and my friend is just redirecting anger for some other problem. Dah......some people are delusional and don't take responsibility like adults.

Mongoose said...

Correct him and make him sit and pay attention to you when he starts being aggressive. He should be minding you, not dogs on the other sides of fences. Just ignoring it is probably not going to make it go away.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and her HOA has the nerve to send her a letter that her "Mexican music is too loud".

Why are these people think it's okay for Mr.& Mrs.Selfish to have screaming parties in their backyard or smoke pots right next to the non-smoker's yard but it's not okay for her to play the music in her own house?

She wrote two letters to HOA to rectify the problems but they ignored.

If you're non-smoker, which bothers you more: A)pot smoking neighbor who smoke OUTSIDE right next to your windows B)screaming brats next door and the parents who intentionally do it outside to annoy you after you ask them to stop. C)Mexican music played occasionally INSIDE of the her house.

Vi said...

Mongoose --
I think that making him pay attention to me is probably a good idea, so thank you for that suggestion. In general I've become more reluctant to the idea of "corrections," as in my experience with him, punishment makes his behavior worse. But I do like your idea of making him sit and getting him to pay attention to me.

Anonymous said...

AND, they think it's re-directed anger at them. Get real. It's directed to them (not redirected) and they're responsible for their own conduct.

Yes, my friend will generously FORGIVE them if they admit thier bad conducts and apologize to her.

Anonymous said...

Hi Vi, thank you for providing the forum to offload gripes. Since you have drawn comparison between human/canine behaviors, following are my comment about "punishment".

Even though there may be some similarity to human/canine behavior, the differences are ability to use "punishment"/"correction". We can always correct our dogs(female/male) because they are legally our property. The dogs can't talk back. We are always right and they are always wrong when we determine so. You can't however do that to another humans without violating their rights. So I hope your comparison ends where humans can sometimes "take it out" on husbands/wives or immediate family member. You can't make another adult human "sit and listen" to you like a child against his/her will.

Masako said...

Hi Vi,

I like Mongoose's tip. Winnie sometimes gets mad at Ben when he's excited about going for a walk. I'm not sure I can get her to sit when he's all excited. I've been trying to work on his behavior so he's not so excited, but I'm not having much luck there. What has worked with us is to redirect Winnie and call her to me so that she lets Ben be. Good luck, it's so easy in theory but so much more difficult in practice!

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