Silent Pain Causes Pet Aggression and Reactivity


Silent pain often drives aggressive and reactive behaviour

Silent pain – neck pain, back pain, and soft tissue (neuro-fascial) pain can be a cause of aggression and reactivity in animals with behaviour issues. Especially reactivity and aggression. Those dogs who lunge at other dogs on the lead, snap and snarl at other dogs who come too close, or even get in a fight – many of them have a whole lot of pain in their bodies that their humans can’t see and don’t know is there.

In nearly every animal who comes to see me in the veterinary hospital for aggression, or reactivity issues, I find SIGNIFICANT silent pain.

Neck pain. Back pain. Soft tissue pain. Neuro-fascial pain.

Silent Pain is all too easy to miss, no matter how much you love your pet, and no matter how well you know them. I know this only too well – I missed severe neck pain in my own little dog, Mitzi a few years ago. He fell down the steps, took a terrible tumble. My wife saw this happen. But he shook himself off and seemed totally ok, so she didn’t think to tell me.

Mitzi showed nothing I could see to tell me he was in pain. And remember, I’m a vet- and not just any vet, but a vet who at that time had devoted 17 years to working with pets with silent pain, neck pain, and back pain!

It wasn’t until I took Mitzi to be my demonstration dog while teaching my signature healing bodywork modality for pets (The Whole Energy Body Balance method) that he showed a subtle change in his behaviour (he was more reactive than usual when other dogs came near him) that alerted me that something was wrong.

I was shocked to find agonizing neck pain when I got my hands on him and assessed what was going on. Doubly so when I mentioned that to my wife, and she told me he had taken that fall on the steps three weeks earlier.

How can you find silent pain in your pets?

Here’s a truth your pets need you to know (so you won’t leave them suffering in silence like I did with Mitzi). The only way you can be sure of picking up silent pain in your pets is a hands-on assessment. That was the hard lesson I learned by missing awful neck pain in my own lovely little dog. These days, I get my hands on my own pets at least weekly. Because I don’t know if they slept in a bad position, or slipped while playing, or misjudged jumping on the couch, or slipped and fell on the steps. So much can happen to cause a serious pain issue when you’re not watching your pets!

Back to the reactivity and aggression issue. This is a big problem. Pets get euthenased because of issues like this. Dogs or cats can severely injure other animals or humans if they trigger into aggression because their afraid of being hurt. That’s what drives a lot of this behaviour. The animals are afraid of being bumped and it really hurting – so they snarl, growl, or even lash out and bite to try to protect themselves.

If you can find and treat the Silent Pain issues, often the behaviour problems reduce significantly or even go away altogether. The good news is that anyone (yes, that means you, devoted pet parent person) can learn how to assess for and relieve silent neck, back, and soft tissue (neuro-fascial) pain for their pets in a matter of weeks with the Whole Energy Body Balance method.

Once you learn how to feel into your pet’s body to unearth silent pain, you can then use the huge tool kit of bodywork skills we teach in the WEBB online trainings to melt that pain and tension out of your pet’s life. You’ll nearly always see a huge reduction in aggressive or reactive behaviours after you do.

I had a malemute in the clinic last week. This dog had become very aggressive with the other dog that lives with the family, so much so that they had to be completely separated. There was a significant improvement with pain relief (Meloxicam). And the dog seemed to be head shy. The first time I assessed this dog, I couldn’t find much- but last week I felt deeper into the body and found significant neck pain. I gave her a WEBB bodywork treatment, and this week, there has been a much bigger change. She is a lot happier, reactivity is reduced a lot. This dog will need multiple bodywork treatments (most reactive and aggressive dogs will – another GREAT reason why every pet owner needs to learn WEBB).

To be honest, I’ve lost count of the number of dogs who I’ve seen for reactivity and aggression issues who had a whole lot of silent pain tangled up in their problem behaviours. If you have a reactive dog, I strongly recommend you drop into a replay of my masterclass “Understanding, Finding and Treating Silent Pain in Pets” (click on that to go to a youtube version). You’ll learn all about silent pain in this free recording.

It’s an important, often missed part of the picture, even by many vets. If you want to help your pets have the best life possible, and reduce reactive and aggressive behaviour, enroll in our online trainings today!


PS- here’s a link to a companion live video recording: