A dog’s aggression may take many forms, fear based aggression is just one of them and may be cause by a number of reasons. Daniel Steven’s, renowned trainer and author of SitStayFetch – Dog Training To Stop Your Dog Behavioral Problems, consults with a client dealing with one such form of fear aggression in her dog. Perhaps his advise may help you.

SitStayFetch: Consultation

Hi Daniel,

Our puppy is 17 months old and we got her when she was 13 months. We are her third home as she was abused and the breeder took her back. We have no idea what happened to her in terms of the abuse but she has several issues we are working on.

She is a miniature schnauzer and is gentle and loving and very protective of my husband and me. She has serious issues with people but loves (LOVES) to play with other dogs and does so really well.

We are teaching her that we are the alpha dog as per your on-line book (which was very helpful) and we have seen amazing results in just a few days. She seems much calmer and at peace. She listens to me more now when we are off leash and she actually will follow me on the path versus always having to lead.

Our major concern is her problems with people. This is improving but she still has a tendency to nip or bite. For example, my sister will play with her and they are having fun and all of a sudden she turned and bit her drawing blood. Another example is my mom will sit with her and give her treats but if she tries to pet her, she snaps at her. She is like this with most people. We have advised people to ignore her and we will see how that goes. We have her on a gentle lead and that works well. She tends to pull but I am stopping when she does and she will come back to me. She is very stubborn (is the breed after all) and so this will take time but it is improving.

Do you have any suggestions on how we can work with her to control this biting and snapping? We never let her out of our sight and we advise people not to touch her.

Thank you!

SitStayFetch Reply: Hi Claire,Thank you for your email, it was very well detailed and explained your issues well. First of all, I think perhaps the best bet for you and your puppy will be taking time and patience, as abused dog’s always take longer to adjust to their surroundings and overcome their fears.One technique to help her overcome her fear aggression may be to fit her with a muzzle and then expose her to as many strange people as possible. Most dogs hate wearing muzzles, so make sure you have her used to it before she meets anyone. Fit it on her and then take her for a walk to distract her, this way she will not associate the muzzle with negative events, or strange people with wearing a muzzle.She will soon learn this way that, although she has had bad experiences before, no real harm will come to her now. At the same time no one is at risk of being bitten while she receives her “exposure training”.

It is also important that you communicate with her what is unacceptable behavior. Sometimes people are too sympathetic to reprimand an abused dog, you can still be assertive with her without being aggressive. If she tries to bite/snap, growl at her and certainly keep up the good work with the “Alpha dog” training too.

Kind regards,
Daniel Stevens
Author of SitStayFetch

For more excellent training tips and information:

For more information on Daniel Steven’s wonderful training methods on everything from the basics to aggression, barking and biting to house training, jumping and whining, check out SitStayFetch – Dog Training To Stop Your Dog Behavioral Problems

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