Updated: Jul 9, 2019
A popular but often incorrect belief is that a dog who is being fearful or aggressive towards dogs or people was abused by someone at some point in their life.
While abuse could cause those behaviors to arise from a dog, more often than not , those traits of a dog are GENETIC.
The majority of abuse cases of dogs with strong nervous systems do not exhibit being fearful or aggressive, they are just oppressed yet still friendly when shown love. They are not scared of everyone, they only show fear if you raise a hand to them.
Genetics play a huge role in the personality and temperament that your dog develops throughout their life.
Dogs who spook at loud noises, shy away from new people, growl at people when unprovoked or even aggressively react towards people and/or dogs all have one thing in common; genetic insecurity.
Mainly these attributes come from back yard breeders who do not temperament test, title and do health clearances for their dogs.
They will take any dog who looks decent and breed them to any other dog they choose regardless of the proper breeding requirements being met.
In turn this results in wonderful pets who most likely will have temperament and/or health issues and 8 times out of 10 end up at the local animal shelter.
So before you claim that your pup was abused without any actual proof, ask yourself, what do you know about their parents.
What do you know about the line that they came from and what temperaments do their litter mates have?
As far as training these problems away, do not trust anyone who claims that they can solve your dogs fearfulness or aggression 100%.
These problems can definitely be helped by giving your dog a new world view with training but those traits will always and forever be a part of their genetic makeup.
A dog who is shaking in their boots at going new places and meeting new people can absolutely be changed and made into a more confident and happy dog! They may still spook at some things but they will be able to work through it and realize that everything is okay by developing a clear line of communication that both dog and owner understand well.
if you have a dog who is a fear biter, yes you can correct the behavior but the main way to get over that issue is by how you let people approach your dog. you don't want people to slowly come up and let your dog sniff their hand.
This comes off as a strange behavior by most dogs and actually causes more bites than any other form of greeting. the best way to deal with these problems is by prevention!
A dog who is lunging and snarling at every dog who walks past you can 100% be taught to never exhibit that behavior but that same dog should never be trusted to run around at a dog park even if they are now able to interact with other dogs.(don't go to dog parks anyway, too many untrained dogs and owners) With a seriously dog aggressive dog you can train avoidance towards other dogs but you should never trust them unsupervised with other peoples pets.
Too many clients are just expecting their trainers to tell them what they want to hear which is "of course, we can fix that" but all and all that is just not the whole truth. The issue can be controlled and oppressed about 80% to the point where you can get some good months of your dog interacting with other new dogs, but you can bet that one day when you've let your guard down that fighting instinct will kick in and you'll feel like you're right back at square one with the possibility of a lawsuit. It only takes one mistake on your dogs part so why chance it?
Dont set your dog up to fail by giving too much freedom and falling in love with the idea of dog parks.