Email: unleashedpawtentialuk@gmail.com

Dog Abuse – My dog is aggressive, it must have been abused.

  Posted on   by   No comments


Well, first of all, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!

Today we are asking, was my dog abused?

Todays topic is an interesting one, and one that came from a conversation I had with a family member about Tokyo over Christmas. And it got me thinking…

For those of you who don’t know Tokyo, she is my 1 year old Belgian Shepherd Malinois. And being a Malinois, its in her genes to bark at strangers and be protective. Its what they are bred for and her behaviour is no surprise to me, or to be honest, anyone who owns one or knows the breed.

Barking at strangers is something she has done from 10 weeks old when I got her, and because she is a large dog, she can look quite terrifying if she takes a disliking to you.

I always joke that she hates more people than she likes, but it is entirely true. You can write the names of the people she likes (or rather tolerates) on a postage stamp!

Now I have had Tokyo with me for almost a year now. And yes, she still barks at people when we are out and about.

‘Well why haven’t I been training her?!’ you might think.

I have! I promise I have!

But the thing to remember is that results are not always instant.

Tokyo was a fearful mess when I got her, which was unfortunately coinciding with her fear period. She screamed at everyone, literally Every. Single. Person.

And now, we have improvements. She likes agility people. So if you do agility then she will likely be fine around you.

She can work well around a group of people when she does agility in a indoor setting. And recently I have even gotten her inside some new and rather busy places.

But she does not like eye contact, so definitely do not look at her.

We have had a few set backs on the way. Mostly kids who have either ran towards her (a kid jumped over a low wall and ran towards her, and one sped towards her on a scooter) or stared at her, (innocent toddlers who just want to look at the big doggy). And adults too who have popped out from around a corner, or exited a house as we were walking by.

All things that are totally beyond anyones control.

‘Well she must have been abused’

This was the response of my family member when I was talking about Tokyo’s behaviour and how she was doing. And I was quite shocked. Its quite an old school and simple way of thinking to jump to the conclusion of dog abuse to explain away reactive behaviour. And sometimes used to excuse the behaviour. More often than not, dog abuse is not the answer.

Did Tokyo experience dog abuse before I got her? NO!

There has never been an ounce of dog abuse in Tokyo’s life. She’s just a big scaredy cat!

Tokyo’s breeder is amazing, supportive, and extremely experienced and knowledgable. She has never been on the recieving end of any dog abuse. Nothing bad has every happened to her, nothing has every injured her, and yet, she is fearful. And that’s ok.

My point is that dogs do not need to have experienced abuse to be fearful of something. In fact, I would say more dogs have just experienced an unpleasant incident, or are naturally more fearful, than dogs who have been abused.

Can Tokyo change?


I was worried for the longest time that I would never see Tokyo compete in an agility ring. Since competitons have moved indoors for winter, and I have had ample opportunities to acclimatise her to different equestian centres, she has improved no end.

She looks more confident every day. And I think we are still a short way off. But I really believe in her.

Do you have a fearful dog? Let us know in the comments below.