What's fear aggression - Page 2 - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #11 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-25-2014, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Gretchen View Post
I agree with onxy'girl, it basically comes down to fight of flight. Something is making the dog fearful, the adrenaline gets going and instincts take over. So if your dog can't run, say its on leash or in a confined space, it will try to defend itself. Hopefully it will give warnings signs before an outward attack.

I totally get this concept. But a dog is off leash, sitting on a bench next to me, all of a sudden gets up, runs across the field and starts barking and lunging at people.

They were 100 ft away if not more. That's when I get confused but I guess as someone said, since it worked for them before on leash, they generalized it and will now chase down anyone they see?
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post #12 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-25-2014, 07:21 PM
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Depends what has worked for the dog in the past. If a dog has successfully scared someone away several times by running and barking at them then why would it stop doing what it's doing?
This reminds me of our Fed Ex and UPS deliveries. The truck comes, the person comes to our door, the dog barks and the person leaves. The dog thinks the delivery person left because it barked. The dog does not know it part of the job. So now the barking strategy works.

The scenario where the OP asks about a dog attacking from like 100 yds away, no reason to assume a threat, I don't know if that fear aggression, poor genetics and/or a terrible upbringing (nature/nurture).
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post #13 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-25-2014, 07:23 PM Thread Starter
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What's fear aggression

100 ft. Does that make a diff?

I'm sure he has poor genetics and I def made mistakes raising him.

So he can never be off leash? He would run up to people barking last year, I put him on a long line for a few months until I saw he ignored people and then let him off.

He did this last night (the 100ft run). I'm actually depressed. Everything was going so well

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post #14 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-25-2014, 07:28 PM Thread Starter
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It was dark and the lady had white pants on. I'm thinking he thought it was a dog. At least that's what I hope.

He's going back on a long line. I just can't believe he was doing so well and now, all of a sudden.

It means he can never be let off leash if it was people. I will watch him for a month or two.
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post #15 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-25-2014, 07:30 PM
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Depends what has worked for the dog in the past. If a dog has successfully scared someone away several times by running and barking at them then why would it stop doing what it's doing?
This is it. Dogs do what works, and many learn quickly what does and doesn't get them what they want.

If you offer a dog a cookie and ask him to sit, to which he does and is then rewarded with the cookie, he will very often repeat the behavior of sitting again to achieve the reward of the cookie.

If an under-confident dog barks at someone because said person is making them uncomfortable, and said person backs away, the dog will be more likely to repeat the behavior of barking to achieve the reward of the person going away.

Running and barking and chasing after tends to get an even more drastic reaction, the person/dog/etc moves away even quicker, which for some is even more rewarding.

The latter two are excellent examples of negative reinforcement at work, with the barking/chasing being self-rewarding behaviors. Think counter surfing, same deal.

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Last edited by atravis; 06-25-2014 at 07:33 PM.
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post #16 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-25-2014, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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Got it. This really sucks because it means that at this point it's been so heavily reinforced that it probably can't be fixed.
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post #17 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-25-2014, 07:36 PM
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My dogs are always successful in scaring off the UPS or Fed Ex guy....Bark bark bark, dude drops his package and runs back to his truck. Dogs are programmed that barking makes him go away. I'm seldom if ever home to change their mindset. I feel bad for delivery people. Bites due to their rush in, run away behavior happens every day I bet. The hat and sunglasses and a big loud truck make it even worse

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post #18 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-25-2014, 07:37 PM
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Running and barking at someone can be fear aggression, or a dog with low threshold or a dog that's balanced but is a bully and needs better leadership.

If your dog is less than stellar in other areas then I would say it's fear. If he's a confident stable dog then I would say better leadership.
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post #19 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-25-2014, 07:38 PM
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We did the GSD temperament test this past weekend and a couple dogs flunked within the first two tests, which were a person making contact with the dogs handler/owner and the next one was a person petting the dog. There was no threat and the dogs in question barked, backed away, barked and then lunged. The evaluator just labeled it as aggression. A couple of the dogs made it to the shaking of the can but decided the can with rocks in it were evil. It was a very good experience and I learned a lot watching all the dogs and their reactions.

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post #20 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-25-2014, 07:43 PM
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Got it. This really sucks because it means that at this point it's been so heavily reinforced that it probably can't be fixed.

Oh, of course it can be fixed.

Harder maybe, self-rewarding behaviors are always harder to extinguish because you have no direct control over them, but there are plenty of things to curb aggression or reactivity.

For instance, you can teach an incompatible behavior to the dog, the reward for which is more satisfying than the reward the dog gets for posturing.
So: dog sees something that makes it uncomfortable, rather than let the dog react you ask the dog to sit and "watch me". Heavily reinforce the sitting and watching with something extremely valuable to the dog (ball, tug, food, whatever).

You can also show the dog that its behavior is no longer rewarding, or present something that is even less desirable for the dog than the "scary thing" and offer him a means to escape it. Lou Castle's "crittering" method is essentially this.

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