Fear aggression / panic

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Fear aggression / panic

Post by Ocelot0411 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:52 am

Hi all

A bit of help please if you would as I have had a bit of a disappointing incident last night and would like your thoughts. When I say disappointing by the way I am disappointed with myself not Bella as I feel that I pushed her too far too soon.

Briefly, Bella has been with me since April and came to me at about 6 - 7 months old, as such I have never walked her in the dark before although I did notice on one occasion that she was a bit spooked at twilight and I kind of realised then that she was probably uncomfortable (and as such I could have prevented this). Anyway in my infinite wisdom I decided to go out for a walk with her last night at about 5.30pm by which it was very dark. We got to the car park and were getting ourselves together (I was looking for my head torch) when a lady appeared with her lab. I didn't see her coming and she made me jump to be honest. Bella said a polite 'hello' to her dog and all was well until the lady opened the back door of her car to put her dog in, at this time Bella and I were in between her car and mine (very confined space) trying to fish her ball out from under my car.

The next thing I knew Bella and turned towards the rear of the lady's car just as her dog was getting in and then she just went. Lots of growling, snarling, up on the lab's back, all very dramatic and scary (she's a big girl now) but no actual damage done. After grabbing her and pulling her away (and apologising profusely to the lady, who fortunately we have met before, so she knows Bella is not an aggressive dog), I noticed Bella was trembling and I don't think this was an adrenaline thing, I think she was panicked.

So my analysis of the situation is Bella has turned around to walk out of the space between the cars, found her way unexpectedly blocked and as she can't see what's in front of her she has panicked and shown aggression as a defence mechanism. Do you agree?

In general she is the loveliest, friendliest dog in the world and absolutely loves the company of other dogs. She is generally more confident with another dog around than she is on her own, so this is very out of character. What is not out of character though is that she is generally quite insecure and easily spooked which obviously comes from the fact she hasn't had the best start in life, but in the 7 months she has been with me, her confidence has sky rocketed and as such I am a bit upset at this last night as I don't want to set her back and I wish I had pre-empted this, but I didn't and its done so we must move on.

So finally, if my analysis is correct, how do I go about building her confidence (slowly I guess and no very dark walks for a while - twilight at the most) and if you think I have misinterpreted this what would you advise from here?

Just to clarify, there was absolutely no harm done and the lady in question was sympathetic and understanding. #

Thanks in anticipation.


Oh yes sorry for those that don't know us Bella is a one year old American Bulldog, who is neutered and is a rescue who has been with me since April. She was abandoned at 2 months old and although she was underweight and neglected there is nothing to suggest she has ever been abused. I just think that spending 4 months of your early life in rescue kennels is obviously not ideal and as such she is quite insecure.

Joined:Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:20 pm
Location:Dorset, UK

Re: Fear aggression / panic

Post by JudyN » Tue Oct 31, 2017 8:59 am

I'm not an expert, but...

There was obviously something about the situation that spooked her - with a video playback of the incident, showing the relative positions of everyone, it might be possible to spot the trigger. But failing that, I'd guess that as you say, it was something to do with the confined space. You never know, she could even have got a static shock off the car.

You might find that she's now back to her normal self, but a few stress-free days certainly wouldn't harm. And then just be aware that she's not keen on walking in the dark (Jasper wasn't when he was younger either - sometimes he would freeze and just look at me with big scared bug-eyes) and that confined places can be a trigger. If there's someone close by when you're getting Bella into or out of the car, simply wait till they've moved away.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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