Articles Home About the Dr. Reference Make an Appointment Furry  Friends Pet Store
2015 Petpsych.com
Peace of mind... for pets and their people.
Fear-induced Aggression
Different from fear-modified aggression, fear-induced aggression is subtly distinct from defensive aggression. Unlike defensive aggression, in fear-induced aggression there need not be any threat of attack or anticipated threat of attack on behalf of the reacting animal. In fear-induced aggression, if a dog or cat gets sufficiently frightened (by potentially any number of things), it can go into a sympathetic response... that is fight or flight. Some fight, some flee. When an animal attempts to flee, but is unable and then opts to fight, it becomes more similar to a defensive aggression. While fear-induced aggressions typically start as an inherited tendency, many dogs and cats soon learn that if they get aggressive in this midst of the frightening stimuli, that the frightening stimuli moves away (or the dog is removed from the frightening thing); and so by the process of association these animals learn (probably on a subconscious level) that acting aggressively around something they're afraid of makes that thing go away, and with its going so goes their fear. As such, this becomes a self-reinforcing behavior. With proper guidance, behavior modification, and sometimes with the help of anxiolytic drugs, fear-induced aggressions can be ameliorated. Until appropriate treatment can be taken, (as with most situations), it is best to avoid the fearful stimuli which cause the animal to react.