How To Control Your Dogs Fear Aggression
If you have an aggressive dog, the vast majority of the time it's fear aggression, not them being a tough guy or mean. They're afraid of unfamiliar people and they've learned that when they show aggression, the people that scare them usually go away... which is exactly what they want. Today we'll be covering fear aggression and things you can do to control it.
Iron-clad training is a must. If you have an aggressive dog of any kind you must be able to control that dog with just your voice 100% of the time. No "My dog is trained but when we're outside, sometimes he won't come when called..." That dog isn't trained. That dog knows commands and listens when it wants, and that's not what training is. Imagine someone with a personal protection dog who decided to "defend" himself or his family from a random stranger who wasn't a threat. The person who owns him could go to jail. And that's why personal protection dogs and police dogs must obey commands 100% of the time. A dog with fear aggression is no different. You need to get your dog trained to obey 100% of the time because even if you try your best to keep your dog away from people and vice-versa, things happen. Your dog might slip out of his collar, get loose from your car before you're ready, slip past you at the front door, etc. That's putting whoever is outside in danger. You need to be able to call your dog back to you and he or she needs to immediately turn around and come. No hesitation. If you're unable to train a dog to this level because you don't have the knowledge and experience, either learn or hire a professional dog trainer. One who trains in a protection sport is even better. They understand aggression in canines more than any other group of people.
Now that you have your dog under control, it's time to get people around you under control. Set boundaries with strangers when it comes to your dog. If someone asks to pet your dog simply say, “No you may not”. Also set boundaries with house guests. "My dog is in his crate/dog bed. He has a place command and will stay there. Please walk up to him. He's fear aggressive but well trained." Also, don't forget to keep your head on a swivel. People do things that don't make sense. I've had mothers try to force me to let their kid pet my dog. Don't be afraid to offend someone who isn't afraid to disrespect your wishes.
Secure fencing, high-quality leashes, collars, a muzzle, and signs are a must for you. If your fence has holes or gaps or is old and falling apart, you need to address it. Cheap products break. You need to invest in quality collars and training tools like the ones from Herm Sprenger. On this page, you'll find a lot of people who think muzzles are cruel. But if they were a vet or groomer and had to deal with an 85lb fear aggressive German Shepherd, I bet they'd learn a lesson on why muzzles are crucial for every fear aggressive dog. An acquaintance who is a very good dog trainer recently had the tip of his thumb removed by a fear aggressive Labrador. If someone thinks wearing a muzzle is cruel to your dog, ignore them. What's cruel is being forced to put your dog down after it maims someone. Last but not least, signage. There's a myth that having "Beware of Dog" signs means you'll be liable in court if somebody enters your property. That has absolutely no legal basis. But you could get sued if the meter reader stops by and doesn't know you have an aggressive dog around back. Post signs at your gates. If you choose, you can leave your number for anyone with a legal reason to come on to your property for example meter readers and police if they believe that a suspect is hiding on your property. Although, they'll probably know for sure if the suspect is on your property if you have an aggressive dog. The poor perp will be screaming for the police to help them. Signs are not an admission of liability, they're the opposite. They protect you from liability and have the bonus of keeping creeps and thieves, robbers and burglars away.
Correcting the behavior is necessary. Yes, you're trying to avoid needing to in the first place by working with a professional trainer, but if you have a setback and your dog is barking and lunging at someone on the sidewalk, you must correct your dog. It isn't fair to that person that they have to be threatened in public by your dog while they're minding their business. In some places, your dog can be confiscated or put down for that behavior. You are going to do your best work with your trainer, but if your dog is actively harassing someone, you need to stop them immediately.
Don't get complacent, ever. If your dog is well trained now, and you've worked on conquering fear with safe exposure, etc. Good job. But you cannot fix nervy dogs. You cannot fix it because it's genetic and you can't change genetics. Never let your guard down with your dog, because that's when someone, somewhere, will make him feel uncomfortable and he'll do what is natural for him: show aggression to get them to leave him alone. Having a fearful aggressive dog is a full-time job. Some people choose not to handle it and will rehome with a specialized no-kill shelter. Many dogs are put down over it. I don't judge either person. Fear aggression is very serious. Someone could get disfigured or even killed. If you love your dog but hate his behavior, you can work on it. Just know that you can't "cure" it.
Thank you for the read, and if you have a fear-aggressive dog I really hope this helps. Please leave a like and share, it helps our page more than you know.
You might also like: Protection Training, What You Need To Know
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