- Gemma Johnston
My Dog Is Human Aggressive (Or Scared Of People), Can You Help?!
Updated: Jul 7, 2022
Yes, I can certainly help you with these issues! But, there are some EXTREAMLY important things you must understand.
Why Your Dog Behaves This Way
Dogs who are aggressive towards people do so for 1 of 2 reasons. Majority being the first reason.
1. They are nervous, insecure & scared of people. What the dog world labels as “genetically weak nerved”. While some of these dogs may lunge, bark, bite & look menacing or dominant, the driving emotion of their behaviour is fear. I will go into this further below.
2. You have a dog that simply finds enjoyment out of chewing people up. This is rare to find in comparison .
Why Are You Saying My Dog Is Scared, Insecure & Weak Nerved When He Bites & Lunges While Looking Menacing & Dominant?
When any living being fears something, we want it to go away. We want space & distance. We will try different things to get the scary thing to go away if it is to close, hanging around or is inflicting on our PERCEIVED safety.
Tactics a living being may try to gain space & ensure their safety with a PERCIEVED threat is:
-Runaway & hide
-Freeze in fear & “roll over to die”
Which ever solution works best for that living being, they will repeat because it has gained success in securing their safety & gaining space from the threat.
For your dogs that act intimidating/aggressive/reactive – They do so, because they have had success in using this option. When they behave this way the follow occurs:
-The human or other jumps out the way, displaying behaviours of being scared - giving your dog space
-The human or other becomes reluctant to approach – Giving you dog space
-The owner becomes concerned with what their dog could inflict upon a human or other, and pulls the dog away from these situations – Giving their dog space Thus having repeated success with being aggressive or reactive to gain space!!!!
-Owners with a dog like this may have also placed their dog in PERCIEVED threatening situations, multiple, multiple times, then reinforcing people are scary
-People are unpredictable & DON’T read my body language cues that I would like them to go away because I am scared
-At any given time a person could breach my personal space
-My owner does not help me in threatening situations, they put me in them! Then freak out!
-How can I trust this person & I am attached by a leash stuck to them with no option to run & hide!!! Help!!!
-I can not trust any person, including my owner, my only option is to now defend myself from every person that approaches
For the dogs that run & hide - They do so, because they have had success in using this option.
However sadly, majority of owners don’t see this as an issue, as it doesn’t impose a threat to them or other people. Even though their dog is suffering mentally, they fail to see this as an issue or even recognise there is a problem in the first place (Unless their dog changes tactics & starts doing the above).
So, for those who can recognise this as a problem, and are seeking help, you are amazing!
The dog chooses the run & hide tactic because it’s had success:
-Its small enough to hide under a table or bed
-Its able to get outside to hide in the shed or behind a bush
-Its able to remove itself from this situation because its off leash
-Its able to remove itself from this situation in general, so has not had to try other options
Why Do I Say PERCIEVED Safety/Threat?
This is because we may not view what the dog fears as scary ourselves. The reality is the dog’s safety might not be threatened BUT YOUR DOG SEE IT THIS WAY & THIS IS HOW THEY FEEL. To them it is real! So we must treat it as such.
There is no point in going:
· “ohh its just uncle Joe, you’ve met him 100 times”
· “We just went to pat him on the head to say hi, he shouldn’t be scared of that”
· “We just walked past a person & he lunged for “no reason” – there is always a reason
· “Its just a plastic bag blowing around in the wind, why are you being so disobedient”
· And so forth
Yes these situations are not scary in reality but they are scary in your dog’s reality.
Here Comes Your Bad News
Dogs who have fear issues like this, majority of it is genetic. You have purchased a dog that is genetically like this.
While how you raise them is still important & doing things wrong can contribute to these issues, the main component is their genetics.
You can not remove genetics from a dog, so this issue is not 100% fixable. You will never have that happy go lucky dog that cool to be in all situations & around all people. If you want that type of dog, you need to come to terms with the fact your current dog will NEVER be this.
Here Is Your Good News
While I can't remove genetics, we can do things to:
· Improve your dog’s confidence
· Make them feel safe
· Desensitize them to scary things
· Have rules in place for them to follow (Scared dogs love rules they can follow, as everything becomes predictable & safe)
· Teach them what to do instead of reacting aggressively
· Manage the trigger & situations they will never be okay in
· And lastly but most importantly EDUCATING THE OWNER. Giving the owner the skills & confidence to handle their dog correctly to make their dog feel they are in safe hands that will advocate for them
Every dog is unique & can only progress to the best of its individual abilities & to the abilities of the owner. While none of these dogs will ever be fully fixed, some make huge milestones, others make the best milestones they possibly can. Some unfortunately need to be euthanised.
We will not know until you & your dog has been assessed & we have given it a red hot crack with every option possible for that dog.
Services Suitable To Help You With These Issues Are:
· Home Visits
· Board & Train
· Private Lesson
· Group Classes (In the future once a certain level of skills & control has been achieved) – This will help to expose your dog to many people in a control environment & with controlled situations.