Fear Aggression: Where Does It Come From? – Dog Training Philadelphia Blog

I cannot count how many times I meet a new client with a nervous and/or aggressive dog, and they speculate how the dog was probably abused before they brought it into the home. With rescue dogs, there are a lot of question marks when it comes to their past and history. Some of the shelters might have a little background, but many times, it is extremely limited.

While I think it is important to find the cause of these problematic behaviors, sometimes people get too focused on the past, rather than the present or future. Particularly with aggressive dogs, many owners will just assume a battered background for the dog prior to adoption, and because of this, some will do very little to address the behavior. Hoping it will pass over time, some owners do nothing at all!

There are many forms of aggression that dogs will demonstrate. One of the trickiest ones is fear aggression, where a dog will find themselves in a “flight or fight” situation, and then choose to follow the latter option. Because the dog is scared or nervous, the dog reacts aggressively as a defense mechanism.

It is difficult to say what causes fear aggression. Of course, insecurity and anxiety are the root causes. With so many different cases out there, it is hard to pinpoint what causes the insecurity and anxiety. Going back to client speculations on previous abuse, it is possible that a fear aggressive dog suffered at the hands of an abusive former owner. Perhaps the dog was bitten by a larger dog in the past, and will now lunge at any big dogs. It could be that the dog was never socialized as a puppy, the dog was neglected and left tied to a tree, etc etc.

Again, it is important to know the past because it is what shapes us today. But sometimes it is hard to figure out the past, and in some severe aggression cases, what is most important is the present and future: How was are going to fix this so that the dog can learn to be a happy dog?

With my training, I always instill a reward-based philosophy, and especially with fear aggression cases, we work on alleviating the anxiety and restoring confidence within the dog. Insecurity is something that can be overcome, and with consistent leadership and setting the dog up success, there can be change, even in the most nervous or most aggressive dog in the neighborhood!

To learn more about my training and how to overcome fear aggression, call me at 800-649-7297! Don’t lose home…change is possible!