I put “aggressive” or “aggression” in quotes because they are really just labels that they don’t really mean anything concrete. “Aggression” covers a huge spectrum of possible behaviors you are seeing.
Here’s an example in human terms:
If I ran up to a strange man on the street and started yelling profanities at him, that would be an “aggressive” act.
If he responded by screaming profanities back at me, this too would be an “aggressive” response.
If I were to punch him, that would be an “aggressive” act.
If he were to shoot me with a gun, then that too would be “aggressive”.
But clearly these types of “aggression” vary wildly both in degree and in the situation. He shot me. All I did was swear at him and punch him.
But he was defending himself. I was just being an a-hole. Which I’m not… this is just a hypothetical situation!
So when someone tells me their dog is being “aggressive”, it just doesn’t mean much to me in terms of what the actual behavior is. I need to know the who, what, why, when, and where. See my article on the P.A.W. system for more on this topic.