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Question
Posted by: Anonymous | 2011/03/17

change in behaviour

I want to start by saying that I have owned more than a dozen dogs in my life and have never had a situation I couldn''t handle with ease. My dogs have always been obedient and well-behaved- until now. My 7 year old bitch, a pavement special, has always been different from my other dogs: nervous of many things, very energetic, scared of strange dogs but will fight first if they approach, a killer of any animals smaller than herself that she can catch. With family and friends and other visitors of all ages a very sweet and safe dog but she must have been abused by dark-skinned people because she is exactly the same with them as she is with strange dogs. Anyway, just lately it''s as if her killer instinct is spreading towards small breed dogs, and even her one playmate at home who is younger than her but a male and nearly twice as heavy. (When this male first came to our household she wasn''t happy but settled down after a few weeks and made friends with him). This is leading to her getting bitten in self defence by her playmate. She''s been thoroughly tested by the vet for all possible diseases that could cause her to be so intense or that could be making her feel weak and needing to fight for her life, but nothing was found. When she gets into this killer mood with her playmate she is so intense that she doesn''t even seem to hear, see or feel anything else. Even the bites she gets from her playmate don''t deter her. Normally she is a very obedient dog. I feel as if I must be missing something that is going on in her mind. Do you have any ideas?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDog Behaviour Expert

Hi there, it sounds like you have always been a natural leader and automatically showed the dogs who is in charge and what is allowed - well done!

No matter how a good a leader you are when you have a situation such as above you really need the help of a professional, and please do get in touch with a qualified behaviourist. This is slowly but surely getting out of hand and serious damage could be done - please contact a behaviourist and get help - there is nothing wrong at all in saying that the situation is beyond your control - all that does is show what a committed and caring owner you are!

Without having a detailed background and having observed the dogs for myself, it sounds like your bitch is acting out of fear which many people can mistake for dominance and is very common in Rescue dogs. When a dog cant cope, it will exhibit one of the 5 F's i.e. Fight, Flee, Fooling Around, Freeze, and in extreme instances Faint. Your dog is performing the Fight instinct. This may have started out as growling/snarling and when that doesnt work, it escalates and because the behaviour worked and the perceived threat left, the behaviour of fighting is reinforced and performed again and more often than not, ends up escalating.

While working with a behaviourist who will show you how to handle this situation and will proberly bring in rehabilitation, i would suggest speaking to your vet about the use of medication to help calm her, the use of a tool such as the Pheromone collar to further calm her and i personally would bring in TTouch.

What needs to be considered is that it is not only her that is being affected, the stress of this behaviour will influence the rest of the pack as well and it does need to be attended to urgently. Thanks and good luck and would love to hear from you after you have sought advice from a professional, Scotty

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Our users say:
Posted by: Dog Behaviour Expert | 2011/03/17

Hi there, it sounds like you have always been a natural leader and automatically showed the dogs who is in charge and what is allowed - well done!

No matter how a good a leader you are when you have a situation such as above you really need the help of a professional, and please do get in touch with a qualified behaviourist. This is slowly but surely getting out of hand and serious damage could be done - please contact a behaviourist and get help - there is nothing wrong at all in saying that the situation is beyond your control - all that does is show what a committed and caring owner you are!

Without having a detailed background and having observed the dogs for myself, it sounds like your bitch is acting out of fear which many people can mistake for dominance and is very common in Rescue dogs. When a dog cant cope, it will exhibit one of the 5 F's i.e. Fight, Flee, Fooling Around, Freeze, and in extreme instances Faint. Your dog is performing the Fight instinct. This may have started out as growling/snarling and when that doesnt work, it escalates and because the behaviour worked and the perceived threat left, the behaviour of fighting is reinforced and performed again and more often than not, ends up escalating.

While working with a behaviourist who will show you how to handle this situation and will proberly bring in rehabilitation, i would suggest speaking to your vet about the use of medication to help calm her, the use of a tool such as the Pheromone collar to further calm her and i personally would bring in TTouch.

What needs to be considered is that it is not only her that is being affected, the stress of this behaviour will influence the rest of the pack as well and it does need to be attended to urgently. Thanks and good luck and would love to hear from you after you have sought advice from a professional, Scotty

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