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What You See Is What You Get: Or Is It?

You see a dog at the front of her crate. She is growling and barking at you wildly. You go to get her out and she dodges your advances snapping at you every time you get close. The longer you try to leash her up you the more aggressive she becomes. You see another dog sitting in the corner of his crate, tucked as small as he can be. His head is low, he tries to be invisible. You get him out and he spooks and shies away from everything. You reach to pet him and he cowers away and pees. He is shaking in fear. Two totally different situations yes? Dog one is clearly aggressive and wants to hurt you. Dog two is clearly scared of the world and wants nothing more than to be left alone. But what if I told you both dogs were actually the same. Both dogs were terrified of the world. Both dogs were acting out because they just wanted to be left alone. They just chose different strategies to achieve their goal. People understand fear when it looks like fear. People struggle to understand fear when it looks like aggression. It's easy for people to give the second dog more space, to understand, to take the time to show that dog the world isn't a scary place. It is harder for them to treat the first dog the same way. Now don't get me wrong, you might have to be more careful with the first dog. Because their coping strategies are more dangerous. But that doesn't mean the solution to your problem isn't the same. Both dogs are suffering because they lack confidence and trust in the situation. It is your job to show them that the world isn't the scary place they think it is. They have the internal strength to face tough situations. And if they don't have the strength on their own they can lean on you to provide that strength.

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