What Is Fear Aggression in Dogs

What Is Fear Aggression in Dogs

Constant barking and fear of aggression can be a common problem for a dog owner. This can ultimately manifest itself in an owner becoming reluctant to walk their dog regularly for fear of incidents.

The knock-on effect of this can be dreadful for both parties involved as the dog won’t be getting the exercise they need and the whole bond between the two parties will start to diminish or not even get going at all.

So..

What Is Fear Aggression in Dogs?

Dog trainer Claire Lawrence who runs High Peak Dogs in Derbyshire is a specialist in helping dog owners who experience these tricky problems with their dogs.

Over the years of dealing with these issues, Claire has developed a “3 Steps To Silence” technique that has helped owners with strategies that can end these specific behaviors.

She also has developed a way for owners to reconnect with their dogs and to be able to rebuild the bonds that are so important when you take ownership of a dog.

The upside of this is that owners can actually fall in love with their dogs all over again and get past the negative behavior of before.

She runs seminars all over the UK and has found a certain style for approaching these sorts of issues with dogs.

Problem barking and fear-aggression can manifest itself at any age. Certain events can trigger this sort of behavior and if untreated and remedied, it can have a profound effect on a dog.

A dog that has experienced something bad, maybe another dog or dogs attacking them can then begin to suffer from a form of PTSD. The thing with dogs is that they experience the fight, flight or freeze emotion the same as we do, however, a lot of the time the “fight” emotion takes over and they can then start to exhibit this as a normal way of being in order to protect themselves.

A sort of “get my revenge in first” scenario can occur and this can then result in your dog barking at other dogs and lunging.

It is also important to remember that when a dog gets into this heightened state of aggression or the “Red Zone” as Claire calls it, this is the time that bites can happen to humans.

Redirected aggression is a normal reaction for a dog in the Red Zone as they are in full survival mode and will pretty much bite anything and anyone.

This is why it is vital to be able to prevent this happening in the first place.

If this sort of behavior goes unchecked the results can be truly devastating for all involved and may well result in you actually getting seriously hurt or someone else or your dog being put to sleep.

It is not something you want to take lightly. If your dog is behaving this way, you need to read on and learn what to do about it.

Fear In Humans vs Fear In Dogs

For us as humans, fear is an incredibly powerful emotion.

The fight, flight or freeze reaction is something that we are faced with in difficult and challenging situations.
Most humans will try to avoid conflict. Most….not all.

Fear can have a profound effect on us as humans. It can literally take over our lives and have the ability to affect our eating, our sleep and concentrate at work.

The thing about fear is that all of these side effects can happen to us without us really noticing..

Dogs demonstrate fear in different ways.

Fear submission is when you see a dog actually roll over in front of another dog.
In this, they are showing a submissive side and they may well be afraid and by doing this they are trying to resolve a possible frightening situation before it happens.

Defensive-fear occurs when a dog is so scared of another dog or person that they will use their mouth or teeth.

One of the biggest challenges facing the owner of a dog that is constantly barking in a defensive fear style is that they can lose trust with each other.

This is where the bond has started to break down or has already broken down.

What Is Fear Aggression in Dogs

There are many ways to build trust with a dog and there are just as many ways to actually break that trust too.

To build trust with your dog you always need to be kind, consistent and fair…it’s not too much to ask really, is it?
Spending time with them, building their confidence and being there for them are all hugely important roles you need to fulfill for your dog if you are ever going to see the best from them.

You have to show your dog that you are THEIR protector too. You have to be strong for THEM.

They need to see you in the role as it underpins and is the backbone of everything involved in being a good dog owner.

  • Never Put Pressure on Your Dog.
  • Never Tease.
  • Never Punish.

Take the time to learn about your dog and it’s breed.

If you don’t put in the time or effort with your dog then any bond you had will surely diminish.

One of the best bits of advice I ever got was “Fake It Till You Make It!”

My wife was pretty scared walking our boy Wilson when we first got him as he was a lunger and barked at other dogs.
This was out of fear and my wife was also fearful of walking him.

I told her that she needed to show him that she was in charge and to be strong for his sake.
I accompanied her on a walk and observed her and then I told her what she needed to be doing and although she was scared doing it, she actually tried hard to do any of the corrective strategies and Wilson actually did what he was told.

It was a case of her not allowing him to lunge at other dogs and I made her position her self between him and other dogs and to be assertive with her words.

I also told her that she needed to be corrective when he was barking at other dogs instead of, in the past ignoring it.

She tried these approaches and with time, she felt more comfortable with it. She had “Faked It Till She Made It”
And guess what, it didn’t matter that she wasn’t an expert either, because our boy Wilson reacted positively.

He didn’t care that she had faked it, all he cared about was that his owner had been strong for HIM and showed him that she was a LEADER!

This kind of support that you show your dog is absolutely vital in terms of them seeing you as someone that they not only love unconditionally but someone that they can absolutely depend on 100%….in ANY situation.

I have on occasion, had to get in between one of my dogs fighting with another. It is very scary. I am not an expert.
But I did it and I did it well.

I faked it until I made it.

How you are with your dog is of paramount importance. They want you to be confident and your confidence calms them.
Dogs pick up on our emotions, our body language and the way we carry ourselves as people.

You have to believe in yourself as your dog’s handler. They need to feel that confidence from you as it fires through the leash and down to their body when you are out for a walk.

Similarly, if you are of low confidence and stressed when walking your dog for fear of what may happen, then that emotion will also be telegraphed down the leash too…

Dogs That Bark Excessively

Generally, a dog that barks excessively are not in a good state of mind.
It’s not normal behavior for a dog to bark all the time so you have to root out what the issue is.

We have to help them out by trying to find out why they are barking excessively and then find the workaround.

We need to understand that they don’t bark excessively for fun so we need to make the situation that is bothering them and making them fearful, goes away.

This may include walking your dog at different times to avoid certain situations or different routes.
In the past, I have had dogs that simply want to go out for a walk when there is no one around and that might mean late night or early morning.

What Is Fear Aggression in Dogs

If you can do this and it makes your dog happier and increases that bond between you then I would say, go for it!

If you can avoid something that you know will be a trigger for your dog, simply turn and go in a different direction.
Be calm when doing this and your dog won’t have time to endure that possible event.

Creating a distance and trying to predict what may happen takes practice and it won’t happen overnight.
With time and application and consistency, you will get much better at this…remember, Fake It Till You Make It!

Redirection and refocus is what we are looking for here and a gentle touch and a “come on boy/girl” will suffice and again, with practice, this gets easier and more effective.

A treat for compliance is an excellent reward for your dog in this case.

This won’t necessarily fix any underlying issue with your dogs fear of certain situations, but this kind of avoidance tactic really does work and it is a positive start.

You are making your dog feel calmer and they are trusting you more. They are trusting your judgment and this enhances your bond and this is all good clean positive stuff!

Always Be Present When Walking Your Dog

By this I mean, when you are walking your dog they need to know that you are fully engaged in them. Ditch the cell phone. allow them to stop and sniff and take your time.

A walk for a dog is hugely important to their wellbeing, fitness and mental attitude so enjoy the walk with them.
I regularly tell my boy how good he is when we go for a walk and that includes touching him under his chin or on his back when we are walking or stopping so he knows I am there for him.

It all adds to him enjoying his walk and it keeps on building that bond that will, over time, make your dog less stressed and less fearful of situations because they know that you have their back!

To find out more about Claire’s methods, check out her website at www.highpeakdogservices.co.uk/3sts/

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