Fear Aggression in Dogs

Share Button

iStock_000012968654XSmallDon’t misunderstand, I am no expert when it comes to working with dogs with fear aggression. Jack had a touch of this problem, but with hard work and a good trainer, he’s worked through most of it and while he doesn’t joyfully greet strangers like our Sally did, he tolerates them. But, I have a friend who has a very fearful dog, he’s actually fear-aggressive – a tough combination. It takes a lot of training and a lot of patience to work with a dog with these issue. She works with him everyday and with persistence and patience he has made great progress.

She put together a great list of resources that were helpful to her and I thought I would share them with the group. I’m sure many of you have your own insights, advice and resources to add to this list, so please feel free to add in the comments.


Yahoo Groups: Shy-K9s – an online community of 4,000 members with shy and fearful dogs. This is an invaluable resource for support, questions & answers, resources and ideas.


  • A Guide to Living With and Training a Fearful Dog, Debbie Jacobs. Her website: www.fearfuldogs.com is also a good resource
  • Cautious Canine, Patricia McConnell (goes through detailed protocols for desensitizing fear and will be really helpful)
  • Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas (to help you read your dog well enough to gain some insight into what she might be doing and to learn to “speak” her language a bit to help de-stress her. a completely invaluable book when dealing with shy, stressed dogs)
  • Dogs are from Neptune, Jean Donaldson (for detailed help with very specific problems, guarding and fear among them)
  • Help for your Fearful Dog by Nicole Wilde
  • Scaredy Dog and Focus Not Fear by Ali Brown
  • Modifying Dog Aggression, The Whole Dog Journal, Pat Miller, a packet of articles written about dog aggression
  • Susanne Clothier, seminars and YouTube videos
  • “Control Unleashed” by Leslie McDevitt – she originally wrote it with agility competitors in mind who’s dogs become over stimulated/have difficulty focusing, but many folks with fearful dogs and dog reactive dogs have found it really helpful.
  • *”Stress in Dogs?” by Martina Scholz and Clarissa Von Reinhardt, it lists more than 30 signs of stress in dogs and talks about just how hard chronic stress is on a dog’s body.

    Jack showing off some of his training.

TRAINING PROTOCOLS (research training instructions online):

  • “Watch me” – teaches your dog to look to you on command for guidance
  • “Let’s go or follow me” – teaches your dog to leave on command and follow you in a stressful situation
  • The Relaxation Protocol, Dr. Karen Overall – teaches your dog to not react regardless of the surrounding circumstances
  • Polite, Attentive and Calm exercise (PACE) – teaches your dog to have self control in all situations


  • The Art & Science of Animal Behavior, Dr. Sophia Yin
  • The Power of Positive Training by Pat Miller (great all-around training book)
  • Click for Joy! by Melissa Alexander (excellent “everything you ever wanted to know about clicking” answer book)
  • Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor (for training methods and help sorting out the effect of rewards vs. the effects of punishments and when to use which)
  • Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson (general myth-busting. it helps you see what dogs are learning from what we are doing with them and helps get rid of old ideas)
  • Mine by Jean Donaldson (for resource guarding)

And finally she shared this great chart from Dr. Sophi Yen which is a great visual depiction of what to look for.

fearful dogs
We’re joining up with 2 Brown Dawgs and Ruckus the Eskie for This ‘N That Thursday Hop, so be sure to visit our other Hoppers:


Share Button


  1. Great list!!!! Sharing!
    MelF recently posted…The Charity Game of Love: Give to the Max Day (Today!)My Profile

  2. Just added your link to a blog post I wrote a while back on euthanizing an aggressive dog. Thanks for putting this together!
    MelF recently posted…The Charity Game of Love: Give to the Max Day (Today!)My Profile

    • Welcome – there’s so much mis-information out there I’m glad to post some vetted info.
      mkob recently posted…Fear Aggression in DogsMy Profile

  3. Very good points. In our family, I’m the problem. I like to get all barky with other dogs and that sends my guard dog sister out to “take care” of my problem. This only happens when we are together, if we are out walking alone, then no issues, but we aren’t aggressive dogs, I think it is more just the fun I have of seeing Katie work for me.
    emma recently posted…7 Years Ago Today | GBGV | Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

    • Oh Emma, you sly thing. It’s nice having a big sister look out for you isn’t it – you’d do the same for Bailie!
      mkob recently posted…Fear Aggression in DogsMy Profile

  4. Cloudy is a touch food aggressive too. She growled something fierce when Misty tried to grab some of her food!
    Michelle Liew recently posted…Stretching your dog’s mindMy Profile

  5. Thank you for sharing these resources! We read Help for Your Shy Dog when we first got Duke & he was afraid of everything outside. It had some really good tips & now he’s over it. But I can understand how hard this can be for both dog & owner, so thank you for helping to spread the word about help.

  6. Great information. We use Patricia McConnell books all the time at work to have clients purchase. Love the info sign. At work we really have to watch the dog and watch the signs they give us. You don’t know going in sometimes how they will be. I would say alot of the dogs coming in are fear aggressive. You have to work really slowly with them and talk calmly with them and try and make them feel safe.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…This ‘N That ThursdayMy Profile

    • They really talk so much more than was thought in the past…with their bodies that is – as long as you know how to read them.
      mkob recently posted…Fear Aggression in DogsMy Profile

  7. good info-thanks. I especially liked the graphic
    Terri Gardner recently posted…Poodles-Vintage Black And White PhotosMy Profile

  8. Excellent post this morning, SlimDoggy Kate! When I was going through my Animal Behavior College dog obedience training course, the material touched a bit on aggression in dogs but only in general terms. I’ve already read some of the books listed — they are great! — and as a novice trainer, I LOVE the chart! Unfortunately, “book knowledge” is not enough to learn how to deal with a shy/fearful/aggressive dog. One has to have common sense, a trainer who knows what to do and how to teach the dog’s owner what to do, and support from family and friends. The list is a great place to start though.

    • Practice makes perfect – we learned that with Jack.
      mkob recently posted…Fear Aggression in DogsMy Profile

  9. Oh wow. This is great. I’ll have to share this post. Thank you!
    Flea recently posted…High Aim Assistance Dogs – and MoreMy Profile

  10. Love this. I have a fear aggressive dog as well. I am a huge fan of Nicole Wilde, Jean Donaldson, and Patricia McConnell. I actually attended a two day seminar of Nicole Wilde’s earlier this year, and an entire day was spent discussing fearful dogs.
    Rebekah recently posted…Recent Raw MealsMy Profile

    • It’s such a common problem, I’m glad folks are getting good advice.
      mkob recently posted…Fear Aggression in DogsMy Profile

  11. Thanks for joining TNT and thanks for the helpful info. I will have to share!
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…This ‘N That ThursdayMy Profile

  12. That’s a nice informational chart. Thanks for sharing and hopping onto This N That Thursday this week. Woof!
    Ruckus the Eskie recently posted…This ‘N That Thursday: Get Gussied Up!My Profile

  13. What a great list! I’m checking several of these out!
    houndstooth recently posted…A Toothbrush To Get Excited AboutMy Profile

  14. Good list. I’m wondering, which of the list items are in the top five that is recommended to read first, you think?
    weliveinaflat recently posted…Donna takes her own sweet timeMy Profile

Comments are now closed on this post.