Who's the Boss Here? Count on big trouble if it's not you
     Dog aggression directed at his owner can make a dog uneasy and anxious and his owner frustrated and fearful. "Such aggression tends to happen more in the alpha want-to-be dogs rather than true dominant dogs. The behavior is often triggered by fear and conflict and living in an unstable hierarchy" Dr. Moon-Fanelli said. "The dog may feel the need to challenge owners in order to obtain or maintain social control."
Untreated, the behavior will only intensify, warned Nicholas Dodman, BVMS, MRCVS, Professor and Director of the Behavior Clinic at Tufts. "These are controlling dogs that try to control everyone and everything. In about 12 percent of the cases, behavior modification and medications do not work and the dog has to be put down."
Dominance aggression, a canine version of bullying people, usually develops between 12 to 24 months of age as the dog gains physical social maturity. Some breeds, especially working dogs, such as those bred to guard and herd, may be genetically predisposed to the behavior. Intact males are more likely to display dominance aggression than neutered males or females, Dr. Moon-Fanelli said.
     Showering a dog with affection, unearned treats and freedom of the house may reinforce this behavior because he starts to view himself as higher in the hierarchy than his owners. "Dogs enter into a pack-like relationship with their owners," Dr. Moon-Fanelli said. "A dog with a strong desire to push to the top of the social group interprets kind owners as 'weak' and takes advantage of them to increase its status."
Owners often have a difficult time identifying early clinical signs of owner-directed aggression, she said. A dog may display some or all of the following behavior:
  The two ways to convert your canine bully into a buddy: Avoid confrontations that will only escalate the aggression and ensure he earns every valued resource by obeying your commands, Dr. Moon-Fanelli said. Aim for slow but steady progress. On average, owner-directed aggression may take two months or longer to curb, depending on the owner's and dog's willingness to comply.

The experts offer these treatments: