Many owners report that their dogs are unpredictably aggressive but unbeknown to them they are missing some of the subtle signs that their dog may not be very comfortable in certain scenarios. Occasionally if the subtle signs are not picked up upon the dog may decide to stop using them and jump straight to aggression. Why would they continue to waste time trying to communicate with a worried tail between there legs or licking their lips when these signs are not recognised.
Why may this happen? If we are scared about a situation we have a few options with how to deal with it. These are 'flight' so avoid or run away, 'fiddle' around and pretend its not happening, 'freeze' stuck to the spot in fear or 'fight' where by you are not able to do any of the above so fight is your last chance of survival.
The subtle signs or worrying Dogs give off a range of body language indicating how they are feeling emotionally and to the untrained eye they can be hard to spot so do not in any way feel that you have missed something. The subtle signs once known can help you see that your dog is not coping and then you can take action to remove your dog from the situation.
So what are the signs? In the diagram known as the ladder of aggression you can see the steps as the frustration builds.
Blinks, yawns or licks nose or lips Turns head away Turns body away or sits Walks away Creeps and or ears low or back Stand crouched and tail tucked under Lies down, lifts paws Stiffen or stares Growls Snaps Bites