Uncovering Triggers For Fear Aggression In Dogs

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Let me ask you a simple question.  Do you know the triggers for fear aggression in dogs?  If not, then you need to read this article to learn more about this type of canine aggression.

Fear Aggression In Dogs

This is one of the most frustrating types of dog behavior problems.  Your dog may not hate all strangers; just certain ones.  He may hate all men, or just men wearing hats, or men with beards.  He may absolutely detest kids under five, but older children are fine.  He may be fine with strangers outside the home, or he may bark at anyone who walks by the house. 

You can use dog behavior modification techniques to desensitize your dog to strangers.  But in order to do so, you need to identify exactly what it is about a stranger that’s scaring him.

Common Triggers For Canine Aggression In Fearful Dogs

Men often seem more threatening to a nervous dog than women do.  They’re bigger, their voices are deeper and louder, they may have beards or moustaches, they may wear hats.  Men have a more direct way about them.  They make eye contact more directly, too.  Sometimes a man may remind your dog of someone who scared him or abused him in the past.

Children are often enough to send a nervous dog over the edge.  Their voices are high-pitched, and they move quickly and unexpectedly.  They’re sometimes attached to scary things like skateboards and roller blades.  Small children may come with noisy toys, which can be terrifying to a dog who’s nervous to start with. 

Kids also have a tendency to grab dogs with no warning and hug them.  This can be dangerous with an unfamiliar dog.  Most dogs don’t like to be hugged anyway.  Teach your children never to hug a dog, especially one they don’t know.

Any dog finds it threatening if someone makes prolonged eye contact with him.  This is especially true with a nervous, fearful dog.  Avoid looking a strange dog directly in the eye.  Look down or to the side instead.

Someone who’s just walking down the street fast or very slowly can be scary, too, especially if they appear to be coming right at your dog.  Anything out of the ordinary can be unsettling for him.

Odd movements like somebody waving their arms around, or jumping up and down, will also get a fearful dog’s attention.  And a stranger who smells of cigars, or beer, or something unfamiliar to your dog can scare him, too.

Sometimes it’s not something as obvious as any of these things. You’ll need to spend some time watching your dog and making notes of which trigger, or combination of triggers cause him to display fear-based aggression towards strangers.

Dog Behavior Modification Can Help

Punishing a dog who displays canine aggression towards strangers doesn’t work.  Dogs learn by associating things.  So punishing a dog who’s already aggressive towards strangers only serves to teach the dog that strangers really are bad.  He gets the idea that if a stranger shows up, he gets punished, so he gets even more aggressive towards new people.

What you need to do is to desensitize your dog to strangers.  You do this by associating strangers with good things, like tasty treats.  This is a long, slow training process that can’t be rushed.


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