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Training Your Dog :: What About Fear Aggression?

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By Paul Reedy

Fear Aggression can be deceiving because it may not look like the dog is fearful at all.


It may look like the dog is vicious. An example would be you and your dog are out for a walk. A strange man approaches you from the opposite direction.

The dog sees the man and begins to bark and snarl until the man has walked by and is no longer in sight. Many would say that the dog was being protective of them when in actuality the dog reacted out of fear.

What Causes Fear Aggression?

It can be due to a lack of socialization, being in an unfamiliar place, busy streets, a vet clinic, or surrounded by unfamiliar people. It can be due to genetics, simply being born predisposed to the behavior. It can also be learned. Let’s look back at our example.

If the dog that lashed out at the strange man never receives any negative reinforcement from you or is told “it’s o.k. he won’t hurt you” in your best babying voice, that dog has learned that you will allow him or expect him to respond to fear in that manner.

Many dogs that are fear aggressive, will give us all of the signs that we would expect to see. Tail tucked between its legs, trying to avoid physical contact, and maybe even some whining. More dogs bite out of fear than for any other reason. Many time we ignore the signs the dogs give us to keep our distance and we force ourselves into their space.

What Do You Do If You Come Across A Dog Like This?

Try to be as non-threatening as possible. Do not make eye contact or stare at the dog. Do not stand over a fearful dog, try putting yourself on the dog’s level by kneeling or sitting. Never stretch out your hand to a fearful dog. This is when most people are bitten. Keep your hands as close to your body as you can.

Let the dog come up to you. Using food treats can be helpful. Seek help from a professional trainer, especially if you have a fearful dog who likes to lash out. A trainer can be vital in showing you how to channel your dog’s fear into obedience.

Paul Reedy is a new Urban Chic columnist. He was in law enforcement from 1994-2001. He decided to venture out into the area of dog training and made a point to do everything in his power to increase his knowledge of dogs and how they think.

He attended Triple Crown Dog Academy and is certified as a Canine Behavior and Training Specialist. In December of 2001, Reedy attended Adlerhorst International for additional training as a police dog handler. For questions about your dog contact Paul at urbanchic@blackvoicenews.com

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