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Owning a dog with fear aggression –what to do

OWING a dog with fear aggression can be extremely challenging and stressful.

Respect other people’s dogs and don’t always assume that it is OK just to approach a dog. Some dogs exhibit aggressive behaviour towards people, other dogs or objects owing to fear. Photo:SUPPLIED

The dog exhibits aggressive behaviour towards people, other dogs or objects owing to fear. It is really hard as you watch your normally loving dog being labelled dangerous and mean; rather than understanding that they are reacting out of fear rather than aggression.

Recent studies indicated that fear aggression can possibly be traced back to their environment as a puppy.

This is often the case for puppies that are isolated or mistreated in the initial weeks and formative months.

Olivia, a Great Dane, was rescued when she was seven months old.

“We only now realise how much damage was done to her in those initial formative months,” said Sarah Swainson, Co-director of Pawfect.

The fear aggressive behaviour in Olivia is compounded by her deafness and being partially blind (owing to irresponsible breeding).

“Before owning Olivia, I had no experience owning a dog with fear aggression. I came to understand what exhibits aggressive behaviour. It comes when she is scared and can’t process the perceived ‘threat’.

“It is sometimes tiring and very hard work having a fear aggressive dog. For example, a walk is not just a walk as you have to constantly be prepared and try pre-empting any possible triggers. This is especially challenging with bigger breeds.”

But, there is hope and good news for owners. Fear-related aggression can be managed, and behaviour modified. If you have a fear aggressive dog it is best to get training from a professional dog trainer to try to correct the behaviour. Working with a vet that is a behaviour specialist also is a good decision.

“I have spoken to many owners of fear aggressive dogs and it is draining but in some cases these dogs wouldn’t stand a chance at life if they didn’t find owners that were willing to go the extra mile. Fearful dogs can live long and happy lives,” said Swainson.

It is very important to teach children not to just approach any dog, but rather to first ask permission from the owner.

(Issued: Pawfect)

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