A person’s first dog is more likely to behave aggressively than a dog who lives with someone who has already had dogs. That’s the finding of a study looking at information compiled on more than 9,000 dogs, conducted by researchers at Finland’s University of Helsinki.
It makes sense in light of the fact that the lion’s share of aggression in dogs is the result of fear. And a dog who lives with someone who never had one before might very well feel more afraid than one who lives with a person who already knows the ropes of dog care. The dog can no doubt detect the neophyte dog guardian’s potential hesitancy about getting things right and about doing what’s necessary to make the animal feel secure and protected. To fill the gap he perceives in his human caretaker, the dog may act aggressively in an attempt to protect himself.