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Help with sudden aggression in English Bull Terrier

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by luvanev, Jan 7, 2020.

  1. luvanev

    luvanev PetForums Newbie

    Jan 7, 2020
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    I really don’t even know where to begin with this. First let me preface by saying that the dog in question is my sister’s dog not mine, but I love him as much as my own and am absolutely desperate for some help.

    He is a 1.5 year old English Bull Terrier, my sister and her partner have had him since a puppy and he has been an absolute whirlwind as seems to be the norm with the breed! He’s fantastic, very energetic and extremely sociable, loves cuddles etc and is generally a very healthy guy. He’s shown signs of anxiety from very young such as paw chewing and has some sensitive skin issues along with a sensitive stomach which we think came along after having surgery to remove a blanket he decided to eat as a puppy—but this
    Is mostly controlled with lotions and sensory stimulation to calm him, along with a raw diet that includes all of his needed vitamins etc.

    Over the past few months he has displayed very sudden aggression that only came about after an incident involving their cat. They have always been kept separate due to the dog constantly wanting to chase the cat—this one in a million chance he did catch him, miraculously the cat was unharmed but to keep him safe my sister’s partner who had hold of the dog at the time had to press the spot behind his ear to get him to let go? (I don’t know much about this, it’s something he had heard of) and since then he has shown the aggression mainly to my sister’s partner—it started as growling and barking but has escalated to two separate incidents of a bite—nothing too serious but obviously a HUGE issue. The only aggression he has shown to my sister herself has been one incident of barking at her.

    They have been working with a behaviourist for a while just to train him up a bit as he is incredibly stubborn, so when this aggression first showed they consulted her and she suggested it was a form of PTSD from the incident with the cat, gave them a few suggestions in how to handle it and then things seemed to improve until the first sudden bite. Since then they have taken him to the vets for a full physical examination to rule out any cause of pain in that area and they said he was in perfect physical condition, so nothing they could see in that department is causing the aggression.

    Since the second bite, the behaviourist has been round to observe him since and said that she hasn’t ever seen the sort of symptoms he’s showing in a purely behaviour based aggression display before, and thinks there could be an underlying medical condition. My sister and her partner have another appointment with the vet tomorrow to see if they can schedule some scans etc to look at his brain as this was the main place
    The vet couldn’t rule out, along with xrays etc

    My main question is really how much hope does anyone think we have? My sister and her partner are prepared to explore every avenue regardless of cost before they go down the inevitable path, but I’m just wondering if there is anyone here who has been in a similar situation? We are really desperate and we really don’t want to lose him.

    Thanks in advance
  2. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

    Jan 5, 2013
    Likes Received:
    What was the partner doing when the dog displayed the behaviours (apart from the cat incident)?

    What was your sister doing when he barked at her?

    What methods did the trainer use and how did they instruct the dog to be managed/trained?
    Torin., Sarah H, kimthecat and 3 others like this.
  3. Jamesgoeswalkies

    Jamesgoeswalkies PetForums VIP

    May 8, 2014
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    Ditto to the questions Lurcherlad has asked.

    This sounds like a variation of the outdated Gun Dog Trainer tip that to get a dog to open their mouths (to take or release a dummy) you pinch their ears which makes them yelp and so open their mouths. Ouch. No wonder the dog is now wary of your sisters partner. (There isn't a magic 'spot' behind the ear btw).

    I don't blame him for getting the mouth open to prevent injury to the cat but clearly the dog has now associated your sisters partner with the incident and so begun to warn him to stay away. You say the behaviour 'started as growling and barking' - this was your dog expressing his concern to your sisters partner that he didn't want him to approach/touch him. If this communication was ignored then dogs tend to escalate out of anxiety.

    Obviously if there are other behaviours being exhibited and the dog is behaving irrationally at other times then the Vet should be able to help. Hopefully illness won't be the cause though.

    So what has your behaviourist suggested?

  4. luvanev

    luvanev PetForums Newbie

    Jan 7, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Thanks for your reply!

    The first incident of the bite the dog was cuddling with my sister, her partner went to pet him as he usually does and he bit him.

    From what I know of the barking that was in the kitchen and my sister was washing up and he ran in and started barking at her.

    The second bite her partner came downstairs in the morning to let him out of his crate (he’s been crate trained since a puppy) which he does every morning, the dog came out fine was his usually happy self and then just turned on him and bit.

    The behaviourist after the cat incident suggested that her partner leave him be and
    Let him come to him in his own time—which seemed to work, they were back to playing together and cuddling on the couch etc no problem until the first bite. She also came to
    Their house after the second bite and he was fine with her, let her stroke him etc and sat with her for a good 15 mins until his ears suddenly went back and he growled. They put him back in his crate and she watched and said it was almost like he was coming down from something, his eyes were a little milky and that she’s never seen aggression like this stem from just behavioural issues but possibly a medical condition as well.
    Jamesgoeswalkies likes this.
  5. niamh123

    niamh123 PetForums VIP

    Nov 4, 2018
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    Bull terriers are a very sensitive breed but also very social I hope the behaviourist is using positive reinforcement whilst training they also suffer with allergies the paw licking is a an effect of allergies.I hope the dog has been now fully vet checked as Bull terriers can suffer with a few genetic illnesses (were his parents health tested) if they were not there is a good chance they were breeding for the money not to better the breed the parents should also only be bred from if they have an impeccable temperament.Also an EBT should be treated as a puppy until around 24 months old although they grow quite quickly their brain takes until they are between 2-2.5yrs to mature:)
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