What is meant by Fear Aggression?

Fear aggression is referred to both in a canine and in a human psychological context, and it literally means aggression which is induced by fear. In potentially life threatening situations, adrenalin kicks in and the body responds with flight, freeze or fight. Which response the adrenalin generates will depend on personality and past experience. All animals can learn to ‘get the first punch in’ if they have been attacked in the past, instinctively lashing out in a situation where they perceive a possible threat. Some dogs are particularly nervy, and don’t need the negative first experience, they will just lash out when they perceive a danger.

In many cases the perceived threat isn’t actually a threat, so the dog’s attack can appear unprovoked to the untrained eye, however the dog will be attacking for good reason. Bearing in mind that dogs instinctively understand that they should operate in a pack, which does not interact with other packs (unless it is when they are fighting to the death), would be a prey animal for other preditors, does not leave it’s territory, or have others enter it, and is not able to communicate effectively with the species it spends the majority of it’s time with… then the following can give a dog good reason for fear aggression:

  • Visitors to the home
  • The postman
  • Other dogs (not part of the same pack)
  • Going out
  • Going in a car
  • Loud noises
  • Sudden movements
  • Hair dryers, hoovers, lawn mowers
  • Owners shouting
  • People approaching them in their personal space (especially when tied up outside shops etc.)
  • Larger animals

If you dog is not aggressive, this does not mean it isn’t fearful. Some humans who are regularly on the receiving end of abuse (in the form of verbal intimidation/bullying for instance) may learn to freeze, and take the abuse, rather than run or fight back, fearing that could motivate an attacker further. This can be the case with dogs too. For instance, dogs which cower, urinate or freeze when they are fearful, rather than those which fight back or run off.

Some dogs are blessed with the laid back gene, although the dogs I meet day to day are on the whole, fearful. If you dog is showing fear aggression then you can help it by showing your dog that you are the one who is the decision maker. You decide what is a danger and what isn’t, and if it were a danger, then you would take action. Your dog does not need to rush in teeth first. I can teach you how to do this, so if you want help with dog aggression in Essex then give me a call. Also I’d recommend a read of The Dog Listener, by Jan Fennell.


4 thoughts on “What is meant by Fear Aggression?

  1. Dog on dog aggression is a potentially serious problem for any dog, or human for that matter who is drawn into a conflict. In most cases if left untreated, the aggressive behavior will only escalate and become much worse.Keeping that in mind the dog aggression shouldn’t be ignored and remember that it won’t just disappear without your intervention.I would suggest “obedience training” would improve communication between handler and dog and letting your dog learn how to interact with each other is an essential step in the prevention of dog to dog aggression.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I agree that dog aggression should not be left to resolve itself as it will not just go away. Obedience training is not the answer though. This is using a human communication method with a dog. It makes much more sense to communicate with the dog using a method that they naturally understand, like Amichien Bonding, which is the method I teach. If you want to know more about this I would suggest that you read “The Dog Listener” by Jan Fennell, which is a massive eye opener. Or for your clients who have dogs with behavioural issues, recommend that they have some in home help from a qualified dog behaviourist like myself, who can teach them how to create a relationship with their dog which allows it to calm down and takes away its reasons for being aggressive. Click here for more information. I often have enquires from people looking for good boarding places that use the techniques I teach, so it is worth looking into this method, and adopting it in your boarding kennels.

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