Sudden Aggression in Older Dogs – 10 Common Types and Solutions

Are you concerned about Sudden Aggression in Older Dogs? One of the most often misunderstood types of aggression is that which occurs in older age dogs suddenly, especially when those dogs have been docile, even submissive, for most of their lives. It can be not very pleasant, as it seems like your dog is turning all Jekyll and Hyde on you.

Older dogs mostly may like puppies, but because of their older age and decreased endurance, they will only want them for a time. After a self-determined, they will let the puppy know they’ve had enough firmly and forcefully. Mostly, this message is sent with a snap that is “all bark and no bite.

Sudden Aggression in Older Dogs Reasons

If the dog reacted badly to a puppy dog or even a puppy, chances are your dog is acting out of a new sense of a challenge to their status. Even if you never had this kind of problem before, young age and an over-energetic dog can irritate an older dog that can no longer keep up, even if the only thing on the young dog’s priority is play.


Older dogs, mostly like to play with puppies but after some, time the older dogs determined that puppies or not a part of the family. They become aggressive suddenly to puppies because of aging.


The primary cause of sudden aggression in older dogs is the onset of arthritis, which makes them less able to engage with other dogs and become defensive as a result. Unfortunately, the dog’s arthritis is prevalent due to genetic factors, diet, or even over-exercise. If arthritis is causing a dog pain, they can lash out at other dogs and you.

Medical Reasons

 Medical reasons can cause sudden aggression in older dogs, such as thyroid gland problems and possible brain tumors. These are rare cases, but they do happen. Dogs live and learn by routine and work to act “in character.” Therefore,  any sudden behavioral change to your dog should be investigated immediately.

Types of Sudden Aggression in Older Dogs 

Sudden Aggression in Older Dogs  Caused By Fear

This occurs when a dog is terrified but cannot escape from the situation due to fear. In this situation, the dog’s most likely reaction is to attack. For example, a dog that is chased and cornered by the staff at the dog hound will bite out of fear. This kind of aggression can also happen when a dog is physically punished.

The level of punishment that a dog can put up with without getting scared varies, and therefore, each dog will respond in different ways to discipline. Keep in mind that if a dog reacts aggressively to punishment, it is because of fear or pain(another kind of aggression that you will read about later).

On the other hand, dogs who have not been appropriately socialized can show aggression caused by fear in unfamiliar situations. A dog who has not been socialized with children could attack because of the fear it feels when threatened by a child who tries to hug him.


Territorial Sudden Aggression in Older Dogs 

In this kind of aggression, the dog attack to remove any stranger from their territory. It is a particular type of charge for the possession of their resources. For example, your dog may react very aggressively if you approach him while he is eating. He may also respond similarly while toy-guarding. Puppies are not as territorial as older dogs; however, puppies’ territorial behavior usually appears as they mature into adulthood.

Abusive Sudden Aggression in Older Dogs 

This kind of aggression can be seen from an insecure dog towards physically or psychologically weak dogs. It is a kind of aggression that dogs frequently display with top social status towards other dogs that are weaker.

This kind of aggression does not have to do with dominance, as some may think but is caused because the aggressive behavior reinforces itself. Anthropomorphizing is similar to the bullying that frequently occurs in schools, where some children or teenagers physically or psychologically mistreat other students.

According to the human point of view, even though it may seem wrong, it is useful within the dog family, so that the puppies learn to emit signals of appeasement and submission. This way, they know to deal with aggressive situations without depending on brute force and, in turn, avoid physical harm. Generally, this kind of aggression occurs in behavioral displays, and it rarely turns into physical damage.

Possession Of Resources Sudden Aggression in Older Dogs 

This type of aggression is similar to territorial aggression. Some trainers, behaviorists, and veterinarians confuse it with dominance aggression, but it is not the same. Charge for possession of resources tends to happen in different degrees. First, it is the warning signals, then comes the final stages ending with biting.

You can check when a dog is defending something at the time of the aggression, such as food, a toy, or space. This is why you see male dogs fighting over female dogs. This kind of aggression can occur in both dominant and submissive-old dogs and should not be attributed to only dominance.

Maternal Sudden Aggression in Older Dogs 

This is very common in all mammals and other animals and has a solid insensitive base. It happens when the mother attacks to defend her puppies. This kind of aggression occurs when the mother is scared of her puppies dying or being hurt.

Therefore, the female needs to be in a situation that does not cause any problems when present, which can trigger maternal aggression. The best method to treat this type of aggression is to manipulate the environment in such a way as to avoid stressful situations for the female. Both the mother and puppies will be calm, and there will be no motives for any aggression.

Sudden Aggression in Older Dogs  Caused By Pain

Pain is the cause of many dog attacks that have no apparent reason. A toothache, inflammation, hip dysplasia, and many other conditions can cause your dog to react aggressively. If your dog suddenly becomes aggressive, aggression may be caused by pain. In such cases, the first thing you can do to solve the problem is to go to the vet to make the appropriate diagnosis.

Shifted Or Redirected Sudden Aggression in Older Dogs 

Shifted aggression occurs when the dog tries to attack something or someone furiously, but some physical barrier prevents it from doing it. In a situation like this, frustration causes the dog to redirect its attack towards other dogs, people, or objects. This type of aggression is relatively common in dogs who live behind a fence or can’t go outside.

It also happens very frequently in dogs who are restricted by a leash. It is also seen in dogs who go outside on a leash yet never had been appropriately socialized. When they try to attack other dogs, they are controlled by their owners. If the leash is too short or if the owner holds on to the dog by its collar, the aggression may be redirected towards the owner.

Sudden Aggression in Older Dogs  by physiological changes

The physiological changes caused by disease, age, or changes in the dog’s environment can cause aggression. Conditions that cause this kind of aggression will not cause pain. For example, if your dog gradually loses sight, people or dogs can often be surprised that approach him.

Because of their visual interference, they react by escaping or attacking. Moreover, the passage of time also causes physiological changes that can lead to aggression. Additionally, environmental changes can also cause physiological changes leading to sudden aggression in old dogs. For example, in some cases, the dog’s diet can increase or decrease the animal’s predisposition to aggression.

Predatory Sudden Aggression in Older Dogs 

Predatory aggression is the result of the release of the dog’s hunting instincts. It occurs when the movement of something that simulates a chased prey triggers predatory aggression in the dog. This aggression is usually directed toward young children, joggers, bicycles, small dogs, and other small animals.

It is the movement that generates the natural patterns of the predator that exists in each dog. This type of aggression is also aggression by social facilitation. It occurs when one or more dogs are attached to the initial attack. For example, a dog attacks a cyclist, and other dogs nearby join the attack, although they initially did not react to the cyclist’s presence.

Sudden Aggression in Older Dogs By Status

Dominance aggression, also known as aggression by status, occurs when a dog believes that he is the household head and will fight to maintain and establish his hierarchy level. This results in your dog, concluding that he is the pack’s supreme leader and will defend it appropriately. This is a stable strategy that is common in several dogs species.

How To Treat Sudden Aggression in Older Dogs

Check Reason

The main action that you can do for your older dog is to check how they are acting. Do you find that activities are becoming harder for them? If you find that your dog is doing struggle in any everyday activity, it will not surprise you too much. For example, if you are providing help to the dog to get up the stairs. They may hurt themselves by doing so, and they could take it out on you.

Don’t Force

Often, the dog will bite you because they feel that you will force them to do something that will be painful to them. Pain-induced aggression can be a big problem, but as long as you are sensitive to why your dog is in pain and do not force them to do anything, you should be ok.

Don’t Mix Children and older dogs. 

Children and old dogs can be a dangerous gathering as children are very active, and they do not think that the dog has become more senior. This means they could try and play rough and excitedly with the dog.

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Always keep in mind to watch your older dog around children and do not let the children manhandle the dog as that is not fair, and you will be asking for trouble. Keep the children far away from the older dog. Realize to them that the dog is not feeling very well and needs to be by itself for a while.

Don’t Mix Puppies and older dogs. 

Other dogs may also be causing sudden aggression in old dogs, and you will need to stop them from gathering with them. Younger dogs can create an older dog a lot of aggression unintentionally, leading to severe aggression from the older dog. As soon as you find the old dog becoming tired during everyday activities, separate the old dog and allow it to relax and calm down.