Understanding Fear Aggression

It was an accident. It was just a ‘nip.’ It didn’t break skin. He just snapped at the air/leash. Sound familiar? Biting (let’s call it what it is) happens when we live our lives with animals. It’s important to not minimize it, and to understand why it happens so that we can prevent it!

Did you know that most dog bites are a result of fear based aggression? Did you also know that scared dog can be much more dangerous than a confident dog? The idea that only confident or outwardly aggressive dogs bite, is a common misconception.

Scared dogs typically give signs of discomfort in a situation before acting in an aggressive manner. Wide eyes, lip licking, removing themselves from a situation, and even growling, are all early warning signs that something is not right with the situation. Respect the dogs space if you see these things. If there are children involved, ensure that the children know to respect the dogs space, as well.

Now, what else do you do? If you have ever experienced these behaviors with your own dog, it’s important to seek professional help. This will not only ensure your safety and the safety of others, it will ensure that your dog is living a happy, comfortable life! With fear aggression, it’s important to note that any harsh corrections and physical punishment can make fear problems worse. In turn, this will make the aggression worse. Taking a slow approach to building the dog’s tolerance to fear triggers is key. Leadership from the people in the dog’s life is also important! Coddling a fearful dog can also make problems worse, as it can force the dog into the leadership position; a role that most fearful dogs are not capable of handling.

What can Mutt Magic do to help? We can schedule an initial in-home evaluation and lesson, to determine what the best course of action will be for your specific situation. From there, our Confidence Course is often a GREAT tool! Held at the Humane Society of Harford County, this is a group training course that is specifically designed to help your shy or fearful dog overcome fear, and build tolerances to key triggers. Upcoming Confidence Courses may be found, here!

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