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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Tayler

Causes of Aggression - Part 1

One of my goals is to educate people to perceive or recognize their animal's physical, emotional, and social needs. Quite often an animal's emotional and social needs are overlooked - they really do get their feelings hurt and develop ulcers from being alone and not being able to interact socially. They are also extremely intelligent and desire to interact with the world around them, rather than spend their days in an intellectually under stimulating environment. Often their physical needs are not adequately addressed. Taking a high energy dog for a walk on a leash for an hour may not even touch the tip of his exercise needs.

Our animals are always trying to communicate with us, however, quite often we don't recognize they are talking to us.

I want to share some information regarding causes of aggression. I will do it over several posts, since there are many different triggers and it would be too overwhelming to cover it in one post.

In my first examples, I use personal experiences with horses, although the information also applies to dogs and other species.

Please feel free to ask questions or contact me if you desire to have more information. I'm available via Messenger, text, phone, or email.

Causes of Aggression

Jealousy I have heard it said that aggression in animals is a symptom; never the true problem. As I look back at the issues I’ve had with my animals, I believe that is a true statement. When I was young, I had a beautiful Arabian/Quarter Horse cross named Blue. He had big, gorgeous blue/grey dapples that looked blue, hence his name. I competed in high school rodeo on him and we did especially well in the pole bending competition. When I would come home from school, I would make a peanut butter sandwich and head out to saddle up Blue, so we could practice pole bending. Inevitably, I would set my sandwich on the fender of the horse trailer while I grabbed my saddle, only to find Blue would have eaten my snack by the time I got back. Blue and I were the best of friends.

One day I was playing with my little sister in Blue’s pen and he pinned his ears and bared his teeth while running at her. He literally chased her out of the horse pen.

I think it was the first time I perceived an animal being aggressive and was able to understand it was a result of the animal being jealous over attention.

Insecurity There can be many causes for aggression, sometimes it is caused by insecurity. Insecurity is an unstable energy and it draws reprimand from other animals.

At one point, we had a total of six horses. Two of the six horses were repeatedly bitten, kicked, and ostracized by the other horses.

One of the abused was a lovely young grey mare named Jenny. We had recently rescued Jenny from a neighbor who had been starving three horses. Since nature is survival of the fittest and Jenny was younger and smaller than the dominant horse, she had to endure kicking and biting to try to capture whatever food she could grab. When she came to our house, she did not understand horse etiquette and was very confused about how to appropriately interact with the other horses. She had come to believe she had to endure being bitten and kicked to eat. The other horses would pin their ears to give her a warning that her presence was unwanted, but she had no idea they were telling her to relinquish space. Invariably, she would not heed the warning and end up getting kicked. The confusion of not knowing how to speak horse left her a bit insecure and also made her a target.

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