Dealing with Fear Biters Dogs High in Flight Drive

The term aggression for fear-biters is actually a misnomer. They don't aggress — they only defend themselves. When they do bite, it's out of fear. And hence they're called fear-biters. Anytime this type of dog feels that he's cornered and unable to escape, he may bite. Biting to him is an act of last resort. He'd much rather get away from the situation.

Avoid putting this dog in a position where he thinks he has to bite. Use a similar approach to the one described in Chapter 10 for submissive wetting. Fear-biters are most comfortable when they know what's expected of them, as in training. Timid behavior can resurface when they're left to their own devices and not given clear instructions on how to behave.

Dogs high in flight drive can appear shy around strangers, other dogs, or new situations. They may hide behind their owners and need space. Keep them a good distance away from people and other dogs, and don't corner them for any reason. Use your body to reassure these dogs; bend down to their level, bending your knees and not hovering over them, and coax them to you with some food. Be patient to gain their confidence, and never, ever grab for them.

What this dog needs is confidence building. Training with quiet insistence and encouragement is one way to achieve a more comfortable dog. To get the dog used to people and other dogs, enroll him in an obedience class. You need to be patient with this dog and figure out how to go slowly. If you try to force an issue, you may wipe out whatever advances you've made.

This dog needs a structured and predictable environment. Walk, feed, and play at certain times of the day so the dog knows what's coming. Dogs have a phenomenal biological clock, and deviations from the time of walking and feeding can make undesirable behaviors resurface.

Rescued dogs — in particular, those that have gone through several homes — often have large numbers of flight behaviors. A tightly controlled schedule greatly helps in their rehabilitation.

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