Hackles on Dogs: Decoding Behavior

Hackles on Dogs Decoding Behavior

For many pet owners, raised hackles (the fur along your dog’s back and shoulders) indicates potentially aggressive behavior and a threat. However, your dog might simply be signaling his excitement or anxiety to you without your knowledge. As understanding your dog’s behavior can help you modify how he or she is introduced to new dogs and situations and prevent undesired behavior, we have explained the following implications of your dog’s hackles and paired body language. However, it’s always wise to carry a comprehensive Canine Liability Insurance policy to protect both you and your best friend, regardless of size or breed.


If your dog’s hackles go up, yet she seeks shelter behind you or under your legs, she is likely anxious about meeting another dog. Oftentimes, this fear can be overcome within a minute or two as long as you provide the comfort she needs and allow her to take her time in adjusting to the new dog. Remember, if you constantly remove her from the situation when you see her hackles, you could be perpetuating unnecessary fear for her!


If your dog’s hackles are raised yet his entire body is excited and indicates play, this is just his way of saying “I want to meet that dog!” However, overly excited and hyper dogs can turn off other dogs from wanting to meet them. So, be sure to calm your dog down and do your best to minimize their pulling and jumping to prevent alarming the others.


If your dog is highly uncomfortable, and their body is rigid and firm, their hackles indicate aggression. According to Dogster, raised hackles at the shoulders and just along the top of the left dog’s back along with ears back and down, hard eyes, tail high, wide open mouth with teeth showing, and more of a rigid body posture signals aggression from the dog.

Predatory behavior.

Predatory instincts can be portrayed by raised hackles along the back all the way to the tail, usually paired with crouching and a paw lift. However, there is no direct correlation between the location of hackles and predatory posture. Each dog is different and the way they respond to situations varies.

The best way to handle a dog whose hackles are up is to redirect their attention until you can better understand the triggers and see a pattern. If the reaction persists and escalates, consult a behaviorist who can help you help your dog feel less of whatever triggers them, explains the article.

About FIDO

There are many reasons a dog may bite, and it’s not always 100% preventable. In addition to financially protecting dog owners from dog bite claims, our Canine Liability Policy also covers other injuries to people, including scratches and fall injuries caused by dogs and injuries to other animals. Please contact us today for more information at (855) 534-6495.

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