Is Your Dog Fear Aggressive? Take the Quiz.

australian shepherdThere are several different types of canine aggression. These include fear based aggression, food aggression and aggression from prey-drive. To rehabilitate your dog’s aggression, you first need to know what the cause of the aggression is.

In this article, we’re going to explore fear based aggression and how to know if your dog has it.

The Trigger

Fear based aggression often stems from a traumatic incident in your dog’s life that has changed his perception of a person, dog, or anything else that could trigger a fear response.

The reason fear aggression rears its ugly head is because something made the dog feel threatened. However, it should be noted, that some fear aggressive dogs are wired that way.

It could be abuse. It could be genetics. It can also be a combination of the two.

It may have tried to avoid a confrontation by growling as a warning. It may have tried to run away but for some reason or another, it didn’t succeed at neutralizing the threat. At a certain point the fearful dog learned that the best way to deal with his fear is to express aggression towards the very thing he is feeling threatened by. This aggression can come in the form of inappropriate growling or barking, and in worst case-scenarios, biting.

The following are three questions you should be asking yourself to let you know if your dog’s aggression is in fact fear-based.

  1. Barking in a High Pitch

    Does your dog bark in a high pitch in the direction of people or objects that he has no reason to fear? If so, this is a red flag for fear based aggression. A high pitched bark is a sign of hysteria and paranoia rolled into one ear-piercing bark.

  2. Hackles Raised Inappropriately

    Does the hair on your dog’s back stand up? If it does, you could be raising a fear aggressive dog. When a dog raises his back-hair (hackles), it’s a sign that he’s trying to make himself look bigger. And the only reason he should be making himself look bigger is to intimidate another animal or person. If his aggression seems out of place, it probably is and you could be looking at a fear aggressive dog.

  3. Biting People who do not Pose a Threat

    This is a big problem. There’s no reason a secure, stable dog would ever bite anyone who doesn’t pose an immediate threat. If he does, he’s probably suffering from fear-based aggression. Biting people is sort of a threshold that once crossed, the responsibility is on the owner to take immediate action. If not, you are setting yourself up for a slew of liability.


The treatment for fear aggression can be long and complex and should be supervised by a bonafide animal behaviorist only.But even their organic solutions don’t guarantee results.There are medical solutions that have had better results. These include are anti-depressants and other drugs that calm and numb the dog’s fear based paranoid state. This is probably your best bet outside of hiring a behaviorist who specializes in canine aggression (If they are a veterinarian, they might also end up prescribing antidepressant drugs).

If the situation is really bad, you may have to put him down.  I realize that this is not the solution you want to hear, but I’m sure that a lawsuit isn’t either.

Was this post helpful? Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments below.

David Sidman is a certified professional K-9 trainer with a specialization in training military and Police working dogs. Sidman qualified as an I.D.F explosive detection dog handler and was certified in Police K-9 Training by the Eastern States Working dog Association (ESWDA)

Leave a Reply

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Register New Account
Reset Password
%d bloggers like this: