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Canine Behavior – Aggression, the Fear

It’s funny, because those who are not “canine knowledgeable” tend to slap all canine aggression into one tidy box.  “That dog bites”.  Does it?  Years ago I was working at a veterinarian clinic volunteer.  For my first task, I was asked to put ointment in a dog’s ears.  The dog – a german shepherd who was obviously submissive and fearful, accepted me into her kennel, and up until that point had accepted my touch. I Hadn’t quite gotten the ointment to her ears, but dang, infected ears hurt, so I understood the sudden jerks away.  She was a sweet little GSD afraid of pain. I get that.  Don’t you?

Then another worker walked by and stopped, shock in her eyes.  “That dog bites!  Get out of there.”

Wait a second.  I’m seated on the floor, the dog standing beside me, my hand on her back.  Really?  Of course the instant I heard the words, I was suddenly afraid.  Until you’ve been bitten by a dog, the fear always remains and at this time I was “biteless”.  I moved with extreme care and left the cage, but I noticed at the same time a sudden change in the dog.  She was suddenly more skittish, more fearful.  Why?  Because I was skittish and fearful.  She was feeding off of my fear.

Fear aggression is one of the most dangerous of all aggression among dogs.  It’s pretty easy to identify, if you know what you’re looking for.  The dog crouches.  the dart toward you and back, their ears are back instead of forward, the tail is not only town, but slightly tucked inward.  Maybe ALOT tucked inward, depending on the fear level of the dog.  They make alot of noise!

They’re shouting at you to Go away! You’re scaring me” with every fiber of their being.

I got bitten about two years ago for the first time, in just such a scenario.  It was my own fault really. I’d been asked, in an emergency situation to watch someone’s dog, and didn’t realize until later that I didn’t remember the dog’s name.  We’d only met once before.  I walked into the house – the owner had left all lights out, and I couldn’t find the switch.  All the while this poor dog is terrified, barking and growling. I can’t see her (she’s black) and knew the only way to end this was find a light.  I turned my back, feeling for the switch as carefully as I could, and of course that’s when she struck.

Being the smart lady I am, I did not jerk away.  I didn’t move at all.  Therefore all I ended up with was a horrendous bruise covering my entire calf.  There was no blood, no nothing.  I got the light on, yelled at her to get in the kennel with my meanest alpha voice.  We stood there for a few minutes, both of us trying to decide what to do next.  The poor thing needed to go outside and she needed food.  So, I gave in to my first instinct.

“Wanna go outside?” in my happiest doggy voice.  In an instant she was out, wagging her tail and happy again.  Me, I was rather in pain.  We didn’t have any more instances like that, thank heaven!

So far, I haven’t added fear aggression to any of my characters, but it’s definitely something to consider. The hero’s sister is lost, and everywhere she turns there is only deeper forest.  She moves toward water.  A river.  Look, there’s a waterfall.  Relief.  As she’s taking a sip a man approaches.  Not just any man.  The villain.  He snarls at her, even in human form he knows what she is.  A shifter.  She looks left, and right.  There’s no where to go.  Just water the water fall behind, and the only way out is straight ahead.  Through him.  Evil permeates from him, and she knows she will die if he touches her.  What does she do?   Well, I shall leave that there for you. :)  Feel free to finish it, based off what you’ve learned so far.  What WOULD she do?

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