10 Reasons for Aggressive Poodles and how to Correct Them


Poodles can appear aggressive in stressful situations. However, poodles may also exhibit aggressive behavior in normal circumstances, and this can be a cause for concern.

What are poodles aggressive?

The most common reasons for aggressive behavior in poodles include:

  • Genetics
  • Breeding (not properly weaned from mom)
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Overly Territorial
  • Health Problems
  • Lack of Socialization
  • Intelligence and lack of stimulation
  • High energy
  • Exhaustion

To correct these behaviors, it is important to identify the cause of the aggression and seek the proper help for your poodle.

In order to correct the aggression, you first must understand why aggression exists. Understanding the root of a poodle’s problem will help you to take the steps needed to resolve it.

A great behavioral training course can really help curb aggression in your dog. I found a fantastic training system called Brain Training for Dogs. With this training, I was able to greatly improve my dog’s anxiety and aggression while in his crate.

I really liked the private member’s area where I was able to connect with other dog owners to get solutions to issues I had with his training. If you need any behavioral training at all for your dog, I would highly recommend this course! Check it out here

How Aggression Can Be Displayed to People or Other Dogs

Aggression can appear in the form of growling, biting, lunging, and other worrisome behaviors. It can also only be present in certain situations that trigger the aggression from your poodle. Let’s talk about the ways your poodle may show his aggression and what situations these behaviors may be most prevalent:

Barking Your dog may normally bark, as it
is their way of communicating.
However, insistent barking at one
subject or in a specific
environment may be its way of
saying “hey, something is very
wrong, let me take care of it for you or warn you away.” Aggression
may not be violent or even all that
scary. It can be a persistent
behavior that involves your dog not giving up until they or you are
removed from whatever they are
sensing. Situations where your dog may smell or otherwise, detect a
predator or other danger, your
loyal companion will stop at
nothing to keep you and them safe. This can result in insistent barking and even them acting more
aggressively if their warnings are
ignored.
Growling Growling is almost always a form
of warning from your dog to
whatever danger or threat is
present. This can be low and deep
in their throat or even more of a
howl. This is a way of warning
away from a predator or danger, as well as letting you know something is decidedly not okay. If your dog
starts growling while you are out
walking, yet you don’t see an
obvious danger, your dog may
have caught the scent of something lurking nearby. If your dog isn’t
used to the scent of other animals
or people, due to lack of behavioral
training, this may become more of a persistent problem instead of a
simple safety precautions.
Snarling Snarling is typically classified as
growling where the teeth are
shown, and there is a clear sense of danger. If your dog is ever
snarling, you need to get yourself
out of whatever situation you are
in, as safely and quickly as possible. If you can safely distract and
remove your dog, you should also
do that. A snarling dog is not a
safe dog, and they are very likely
close to attack whatever had
them on alert. This could not only end up being deadly for the
threat but also for your animal. If
your dog is on alert in a situation
you know isn’t actually dangerous, then you need to get your dog
training and help as soon as
possible before their behavior
becomes even more hazardous.
Lunging Lunging is an aggressive and
non-playful way means there is
more fight to your dog’s behavior
than simply warning or
uncertainty. Your dog is ready for
action and they aren’t going to be
easily prevented. This is commonly due to seeing something exciting
that they don’t know how to
respond correctly. Or, it could also mean that your dog saw another
dog and hasn’t been properly
socialized.
Marking their territory Dog’s mark their territory.
However, there is normal marking, and then there is aggressive
marking. If your poodle is
consistently lifting his leg around a specific area, with or without any
productive spraying, then
something else is happening. If
there is another dog fighting for
your dog’s territory, or if there is a
threat sensed by your dog, they
might start aggressively marking. If
you’ve noticed a new neighbor
with a pet, or you are in an area
with active wildlife, then you
should realize these may be the
triggers. Your dog may also do this if you’ve welcomed another
animal or even another human
into your home who may or may
not be as friendly as they should
be.
Yelping If your dog is yelping as if they are in pain, but you can’t find any
reason they would be, check the
situation you are in. Is there more
arguing happening in your home?
Is your teenager blasting their
music louder than ever? Did you
get a new cat who now rules the
home? Your dog may be fighting in a way they don’t know how to
navigate properly. This can lead to
them showing it in the same
way they show pain. However, if
you can’t figure out an underlying
reason, you should take them to the vet, as it could be something
internally and medically wrong.
Biting and Snipping Biting and snipping can be a sign
of a startled dog or something even more dangerous. However, dogs
aren’t likely to bite in an effort to
harm you without provocation.
Dogs who have been forced into
aggressive behavior are more likely to bite and snip, though. Poodles
are dogs known for snipping more often, but it is commonly due to
excitement. If a dog feels
threatened, hurt, or otherwise
caught off guard, they are more
likely to snip or bite in reaction.

Reasons for Aggressive Poodles

1) Genetics

Some breeds are naturally more aggressive. This is why certain breeds are ideal for hunting and why others may be better for larger families. A born aggressor will need to be socialized and trained properly before being able to be placed in social situations with other animals and humans they are not accustomed to.

Poodles are especially prone to anxiety and, therefore, will not be socialized as easily as some other dogs.

2) Breeding

Breeding itself can cause aggression in your poodle. If your poodle was born into an abusive or neglectful environment, then aggression and distrust will grow in your pup as they grow. If your puppy is removed from his mother too soon rather than properly weaned, it can also cause more aggressive behavior.

Your dog’s mom will teach them needed skills, and without those naturally taught skills, your poodle’s training will be challenging.

3) Anxiety

As mentioned above, anxiety-ridden dogs are going to have a much harder time adjusting. A poodle’s environment, training, and care are key to their behavior and health.

Anxiety can cause other health concerns, so speak to their vet before dismissing it or ignoring the symptoms altogether. There may be medication or additional help that your vet can offer.

I recently wrote this article on how to stop separation anxiety in poodles. In it, you’ll learn how to identify this anxious behavior and fifteen ways to help fix it.

4) Fear

If your animal is in a situation where they are afraid, they will either cower or become defensive. In situations where your dog is consistently fearful, those behaviors will also become consistent and can be harder to train away.

Situations such as dogfighting can lead to fear-induced aggression and, eventually, aggression learned as a way to stay alive. Occupations, which include dogs, such as the police force, can also cause fear-induced aggression.

5) Overly Territorial

When your poodle senses their territory is in jeopardy in any way, they are going to react. This can be due to a new animal around their home, an unfriendly human inside of the house, or wild animals encroaching on their territory.

Most animals also see their humans and other beloved animals as their territory. This means that if there is danger around those they love, their behavior may show it.

6) Health Problems

Just as humans get crabby when they feel under the weather, dogs can behave similarly. If there is something causing your dog to be less than 100%, their actions will show it.

This could mean they are eating or sleeping less, more whiney, less active, have short tempers, amongst any annoyances. This could cause them to snip at a playful pup around them or even growl at a toddler who is close to stepping on their tail.

7) Lack of Socialization

If your poodle is not used to being around other dogs, that means they have not been properly socialized. The same goes for them being around other people and animals in general.

Believe it or not, dogs shouldn’t lunge at other dogs every time they come near them. Excitement is fine and even encouraged. New friends are something to be excited about. Proper training can help your poodle correctly respond to new animals and people.

8) Intelligence and Lack of Stimulation

If you have a highly intelligent dog, which poodles are, then you need to stimulate them, mind, and body. They need to investigate, learn, exercise, and play regularly. If your dog is simply left on a chain all day, or stuck inside, they are very likely to become aggressive and unpredictable. You cannot expect a bored dog to take sudden stimulation lying down.

9) High Energy

If your Poodle isn’t getting their energy out, it may show in aggressive behavior. They may pull on their leash, growl at passing strangers, or be hard to control in other manners.

A poodle whose energy isn’t released in healthy, regular, productive ways will often become agitated. Without a proper outlet, they are faced with releasing their energy in whatever means necessary.

10) Exhaustion

An exhausted dog can be cranky, as an exhausted human can be cranky. Fatigue makes living beings act out in abnormal ways or can cause already problematic behavior to be enhanced.

Creatures need rest, especially active creatures like your poodle. Proper sleep and rest allow for a healthier body and mind for humans and animals. Make sure your poodle is adequately cared for, and they will behave better in the long run.

The Dangers of Having an Aggressive Poodle

There are several dangers of having an aggressive poodle. Not only can it pose a threat to you or your dog, but it could also cause potential harm to other animals or humans in your lives, neighborhood, or walking path.

Physical Harm

The physical harm your dog can cause to you or someone else can be severe. Dog attacks can be fatal, especially by one acting in a frenzy of protective aggression. If your loyal companion thinks you, a family member, or even a well-known animal is in danger, your dog very well may take safety into its own paws. Or, in most cases, its teeth.

Poodles usually aren’t vicious without reason. Circumstances in the moment, or past conditioning, have encouraged your dog to react in an aggressive way.

Mental Harm

Poodles who are always on alert, most often suffer anxiety and related symptoms. Not only is aggressive behavior a sign of stress, but it can also be a warning sign for further complications.

Anxiety can cause your dog not to eat properly, sleep soundly, or be able to see non-threatening situations in a non-threatening way. Dogs who are anxious and on edge will be more likely to act out.

An anxious dog may start to growl while they are eating, whine in their sleep, yelp when startled, not be able to sit still for long, be uninterested in playing, seem suspicious of treats, and may even be resistant to being pet or otherwise loved on.

They aren’t likely to feel safe in their familiar environments and will often be under immense amounts of worry and anxiety away from home.

How to Correct Aggressive Behavior in Poodles

There are a few things you can do to correct your poodle’s aggressive behavior. Taking care to adjust and understand the behavior will ensure a better future for your pet and yourself. This understanding and the skills you gain will also help you in any future endeavors you have with animals.

Socialization

Making sure to socialize your dog as young as possible will prevent aggressive behavior in the future. This means introducing them to other animals, allowing them to play with other animals freely, and taking them on walks and having playtime where other animals and people are present. Correcting unwanted behavior during these interactions will allow your pup to learn what is expected of them in social situations. Adult dogs are also capable of unlearning bad behavior and learning good behavior.

There are several ways to allow socialization outside of what you do, yourself:

  • Doggy Daycare is a place where your animal can go to be cared for and safely socialized for periods of time. As suggested, the daycare is typically not a place for boarding but rather a place for people to take their pets during the day. Commonly, doggy daycares are used by owners who work all day and don’t want their animals stuck home alone all day. This can be an alternative for dog walkers and pet sitters.
  • Dog Walkers are people who will come by when scheduled and walk your animal for you, giving them potty breaks and exercise during their time out. Another added bonus is that dog walkers often collect and walk multiple dogs at once and may even take them to nearby dog parks or other areas welcoming to animals. Not only does this ensure activity and socialization, but it also allows them to grow used to an authority other than you, which increases their tolerance.
  • A regular favorite activity among other dogs and people can also be highly advantageous. When pairing special activities your dog gets super hyped about, with other animals and humans, they can start associating those happy feelings with socialization. This can be anything from swimming, frisbee, hikes, or a low-key game of fetch.
  • Expand your pet’s encounters with other animals, as well. If you know someone with a farm, this could be a great socialization opportunity. They will be able to learn the smells of safe animals, see how they are interacted with by humans, and even form some positive connections. Enforcing good behavior towards felines is also a good idea since they will surely encounter them sometime in their lives.

Training That Can Help Prevent Aggressive behaviors in Poodles

Behavioral Training from a young age is highly encouraged. Below is some training that can specifically help with social situations, as well as help with aggressive behaviors:

  • Behavioral training can be started at any age. This type of training is based on a pet’s behavior in many situations, including socialization. In fact, it is commonly focused specifically on social situations, and, as these are the most common times your poodle may be aggressive, it can be the most effective form of training they can receive.
  • Obedience training may also help your poodle. A highly trained dog, not just in behavior, is more likely to allow you to remove them from a bad situation. A pet who is highly observant, such as most poodles are, are going to read their owner’s reactions to situations. If they give them signs or commands to sit or otherwise be calm, the outcome is much more likely to be positive.
  • Distraction training can fall under obedience training but also applies to more specific situations. For instance, learning how to distract your dog from their initial reactions to visitors or encountered pets on walks can lead them to remember the praised behavior they exhibit afterward. Once they’ve learned the positively reinforced good behaviors, they are much more likely to do them, as their nature is to make us proud.
  • Stay consistent. Don’t act upset one day because your dog is kindly socializing with an animal, then reprimand them the next day for being aggressive about them. They take their cues from you most of the time. If you aren’t consistent, you can’t expect them to be, either. If your reactions aren’t reliable, it will often stress them out, and those situations will cause anxiety and aggressive behavior.

A good behavioral training course can really help your Poodle’s aggression. I found an amazing training system called Brain Training for Dogs. In just a few weeks, I saw a significant difference in my dog’s anxiety level. I would highly recommend this course! Check it out here

Tips For Exercise and Preventing Aggressive behavior in Poodles

For pets who act aggressively due to lack of exercise, attention, or intellectual activity, exercise can be most rewarding. A dog walker while you are away for work, or even doggy daycare, are possible solutions. However, you may not need to take them away from home or hire someone else to take care of them in order to help them.

  • Consider setting your alarm clock earlier in the morning to allow for a morning walk together. Not only does it allow them to release energy at the start of the day, but it is also healthy for you to get exercise in the morning and a great way to bond with your poodle. It’s a win-win.
  • Take nightly walks before getting ready for bed. This expands their amount of energy released and also allows them to have an adventure before calming down for the night. Getting away from home isn’t just about exercise, either. It allows them to inspect the world around their homes. Poodles, who are naturally observant, will benefit greatly from consistent walks.
  • Take them away from the neighborhood as regularly as possible. This can be one a week or once a day, however, your schedule will allow. Taking them to a dog park, a walking trail, a field, the beach, or even your local swimming hole will not only allow them to exercise, but it also encourages them to socialize regularly.
  • Have company over and let them bring their dogs. Having new people in their home, and new animals around can be beneficial. This allows them to be in the comforts of their own home with their humans and will let them socialize at the same time. It is also a way for animals to form stronger bonds with animals and other humans. Consider how you feel with your closest friends and offer the chance for your own pet to feel the same with another animal.

Poodle Aggression and Your Home

Your home is your poodle’s sanctuary. Make sure your pet’s environment is safe and healthy. If your household is loud, rambunctious, and full of happy activity, your poodle is going to act in accord with it.

However, sometimes animals get overwhelmed as humans do and need some quiet time. Giving your poodle a calm place just for them to escape to can help them considerably.

If you’ve welcomed a new person into your home and your poodle is aggressive only to them, and this is abnormal behavior, consider that your loyal canine has sensed something dangerous or unwanted. However, don’t jump to the conclusion that he or she is an inherently bad person. They could also be covered in animal hair from their homes.

You should make sure your poodle has some comforts, but most of all, make sure their needs are met. This means proper bedding, high-quality food, unlimited access to water, toys, and consistent potty breaks. If your animal isn’t comfortable, safe, or well cared for, their behavior is going to show that.

Talk to Your Vet about Your Aggressive Poodle

Your poodle may be sick or need medicine for their anxiety. Humans sometimes need a doctor’s help, so why shouldn’t our beloved pets?

  • Make sure to give the vet all the information you have about how your pet is behaving, what situations cause the behavior in your dog, and what you’ve done to try to correct it, if anything. If you have a specific health worry, don’t be shy about presenting it to the vet. We know our animals in ways vets can’t because bonds have been formed, and trust has been established. Your pet may not act the same way in front of a vet as they will with you.
  • Be sure to pay attention to any advice your vet may give you. There could be something simple going on with your pet, or it could be something more serious. If they suggest a medication for an illness, be sure to follow the directions for the medication and be aware that change in behavior may take time. Expecting results isn’t fair to your poodle, nor is it logical.
  • Talk to your vet about what you can do in the future, and what you should have done already, should it be a preventable ailment. If they are not sick at all, ask your vet for advice on the root of the aggressive behavior and what they feel would be best in order to rectify it.

The Takeaway

Aggressive behavior can be exhibited in various ways, from snarling to biting to yelping or lunging. Whatever the way it is shown, learning why it is happening is the key way to prevent it and fix the root causes behind the behavior.

Please don’t jump to the conclusion that your dog is simply acting out because they are “bad” or untrained. Listen to your pet and give him or her credit that your poodle has the ability to sense things that you may not be able to.

Brent Hartman

I'm Brent Hartman. I've been a dog lover my entire life and have owned many animals over the years. When my black lab Angus passed away, I was looking for another friend to share my life with. As a result of my research, I've come to love poodles and wanted to share some of what I've learned with you. Whether you're looking to adopt a poodle, or already own one, I created Poodle report to be the ultimate guide to help you find the answers you need.

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