The problem of fear

We adopted Lily-June from a shelter a few months ago. She is a small mix with predominatly Doberman pinscher features, though on a tiny scale. I have had mostly frustrating experiences with training dogs over the years, but she has been the easiest by far. I’m amazed at how smart she is.

Her only issue is that she is extremely dog-reactive. She loses her mind when another dog is near, becoming aggressive beyond control. We’re working on re-conditioning her, and while I see slight progress, it’s going to be a long road.

As her master I find myself wrestling with the disconnect in perception: to her other dogs are extreme threats, whereas to me they are not. She could have so many friends, so many pleasant interactions with them, if she would simply relax. But she cannot, and I realize it’s not her fault. She was rescued from a bad situation, and I’ll never know what it is she’s been through.

What I’m realizing is her aggression is rooted in fear. I know this is a truism, and I wish I had the clever references and quotes to make it seem like I’m much better read than I currently am. But I’m not. I’m simply re-learning this by reflecting on what it’s like to walk her every day. When she sees another dog she is fundamentally afraid, and she reacts to it with aggression. Her only, uncontrollable reaction is to attack that which she fears.

I am not dissimilar, and have so much to learn from her.

 

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