Did you know there's this thing called barrier aggression? It is actually very different from aggression.
It is often seen at a shelter.... but sometimes it is seen at home, too. You know, when your dog is in the yard and barks aggressively at a person approaching... but then, your dog wags, wiggles, and licks when that same person is invited in the house? Well, that is barrier aggression!
We actually see this behavior in shelters - a lot. For dogs, shelters are terrifying places. They’re filled with other terrified dogs barking at the top of their lungs. These dogs have either been abandoned by families or taken off the street, stuffed into a vehicle and then locked in a kennel.
Seriously, Can you imagine if you went through this!?
After going through this, dogs at the shelter go through different stages... and like people, it affects each dog differently.
Some dogs are happy and eager to meet you and try to lick you through kennel doors.
Other dogs appear aggressive while in the kennels. This is called barrier aggression... similar to the dog in your yard, barking at approaching people.
This does NOT mean the dog is aggressive!!
Between staff and volunteers, we are interacting with each dog multiple times - daily. During each interaction, dogs are being assessed.
Each dog also has a behavior assessment upon intake, and follow up assessments as needed while in our care.
While these dogs may appear aggressive behind kennel doors, once the door is open and they are on the outside, their behavior changes and they become playful, lovable, wiggle waggy dogs.
Barrier aggression is commonly seen in dogs that have been in the shelter for months... but sometimes it occurs right away.
Here at Needy Paws, we have a few dogs that display this barrier aggression. We want to reassure all of you that these dogs are not aggressive. We interact and assess them daily.
When visiting a shelter, we ask that you keep this in mind.
Please do not judge any animal behind a kennel door!!
If you see a dog that you are interested in, we encourage that you interact with the dog in the play yard or ask to take them on a walk.
Please see a shelter staff member before opening ANY kennel door! Some dogs will bolt and try to escape! Trust me…they move fast!
Interacting with the dogs will help you in many ways. This will allow you to see the dog’s actual behavior in a more relaxed environment while interacting to make sure the dog will be a good fit for your home.
Remember, shelter dogs are often scared, confused, and depressed. Many had a life before the shelter and they do not understand why they are here. They often feel abandoned. They really do want to go home with you and be part of your family. They just need a little compassion, understanding, and the opportunity to show you who they really are.