The scientific study of aggression is as old as psychology and behavioural biology. Theories abound, and there are interesting conflicting perspectives: Behavioural (behaviourist), ethological (biological), ecological, neurophysiological, psychological (cognitive, and socio-affective), etc. Aggression is also often confused with aggressiveness, and is often discussed "out of context". Ironically, dogs may be one of the few species "out-of-context" by virtue of thousands of years of domestication. We will examine the origins of canine aggression (in the social context) and discuss it in a comparative perspective (mentioning other species), situating aggression within other social behaviours that are arguably more important in defining social dynamics. We will also discuss the neuroscience of aggression and how it fits within social rules (including in relation to dominance) and in relation to affiliative behaviours. Antidotes to aggression such as play, confidence, calmness, and control will be discussed. Nothing in our understanding of aggression makes sense without an understanding of context, social dynamics, personality, and the brain.
Learning Objectives: 1. Distinguish between predispositions (aggressiveness) and events (aggression) 2. Understand the cause(s) of aggression at the physiological, individual and social level 3. Understand the context of aggression, from anxiety, stress, to dominance and complex social dynamics 4. Explore the roots of canine aggression: Why do animals engage in aggressive acts? (the basic psychology and ethology of aggression)