"Social aggression is the only type of aggression that can be categorized as active aggression. Even though the term active aggression is used frequently, it really only applies here. The reason social aggression is called active aggression is because it really does not require any specific action as a trigger stimulus. Social aggression serves two purposes of biological significance. One is ensuring the even distribution of a species across a given territory by repelling equally strong individuals. And the other is to establish and maintain order in social units such as a pack. Social aggression is always directed at the individual's own kind. In the breeds that were created for police and military service, selection took place that expanded the direction of social aggression to also included the dog's adopted kind, humans. As an example of contrast, in the dog fighting breeds, selection took place to ensure that the social aggression would not include humans.
Let me give you a couple of other reasons why I hold this view. In virtually all older texts describing the police service dog breeds a few points were always made. They were that the dogs show mistrust and aggression against strangers and that they are very devoted and loyal with the family and very loving with children. To me this combination of qualities stem from a very strong closed pack oriented social behavior. That means loyalty and devotion to members in the pack and aggression against all outsiders, even those belonging to the same species.
This form of aggression is not very common in our dogs anymore, because many people find it to be socially unacceptable. Dogs today are supposed to be social and to a certain degree friendly. And while I see nothing wrong with a social dog, I personally also see nothing wrong with a socially aggressive dog. These dogs are not unpredictable menaces to society or vicious animals. They simply have inborn motivations that include this form of aggression. Social aggression is a trainable trait, meaning it can be directed and controlled. Naturally that requires the right handler so that accidents are prevented.
Socially aggressive dogs have an urge to be aggressive towards strangers. This can be controlled and the dog can be taught to tolerate strangers. However, the dog will not become a social or friendly dog with strangers, no matter what type of behavior modification is attempted. The only way this urge to confront a stranger aggressively when not under control would go away is if the stranger meets the confrontation and social order is established. This happens either if the person can subdue the dog and subordinate him or if the person unequivocally submits to the dog. (At that point the person is no longer a stranger but an integrated pack member).
The trend in breeding has been to breed dogs who do not have social aggression. And that may be what many people want. The point I would like to make is that social aggression is nothing that should be made out to be something evil. It is a valuable trait in dogs that are in the right hands. Such dogs do demand a high degree of responsibility and vigilance on the part of the handler. Socially aggressive dogs who are also dominant are difficult to handle and to train and should be in the hands of experts. " Armin Winkler
Last edited by Chip Blasiole; 02-26-2019 at 10:35 AM.