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Understanding Fear Aggression in Dogs

Fear aggression in dogs can be explained as aggressive behaviour that is triggered by fear. Dogs that display fear aggression will growl and bark when they find themselves in situations that make them afraid.

Some may even snap or attempt to bite. Such dogs may display this type of behaviour towards humans others dogs or objects.

Fear aggression may be inherited or acquired. Inherited fear aggression is where bitches that are fearful are bred and thus their puppies also show the same kind of aggression since their mother did the same. To avoid this most breeders try not to breed suck kind of dogs.

Acquired fear aggression is where this kind of aggression is not rectified when it is first seen or sometimes encouraged and the dog thinks it is ok to act that way.

Dogs that have not been well socialised may display this type of aggression towards people.

The key to identifying fear aggression in dogs is to be very observant. An aggressive dog that is about to attack will usually support its weight on the front legs ready for flight, the tail is usually held out high in the air.

A dog that feels threatened and fearful on the other hand will have the tail tucked between the legs. When barking, he may do so while using a solid object such as a tree, post, your body as a shield. Such dogs are also more of talkers than doers i.e. the dog may bark or growl a lot but does not attack.

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There should be a trigger for such behaviour. For example, strangers, mailman, loud noise, male dogs, and children. When the trigger is introduced, a response is observed but the response dies down the minute the trigger is no longer present.

In order to rectify fear aggression, it is vital that you identify the stressor. This includes situations or things that might make your dog feel threatened or nervous. In some dogs there is only one stressor while in other dogs there are a lot of them.

You may have a professional help you and your dog in dealing with fear aggression or you can do it yourself with online dog training lessons. Whatever the case, here are some useful tips to keep in mind:

- Fear aggression should not be encouraged since it poses a danger for you and other people around you as well as animals.

- When dealing with fear aggression, begin by knowing the fear and taking time to understand it. This will help you in knowing the best way to approach it.

- Do not punish the dog for displaying fear. This only makes the problem worse. Instead reassure the dog by showing him/her there is nothing to be afraid of. If you are confident the dog may be a bit relaxed.

- If you are a breeder ensure that you socialise your puppies well by spending time with them, holding them and introducing them to new things in a calm way.

- If you cannot handle it on your own, do not be afraid to ask for help. There are people who are highly trained in dealing with such kind of behaviour and they will advice you well.

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