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new aggressive behaviour

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by bryony231, Mar 30, 2011.

  1. bryony231

    bryony231 PetForums Newbie

    Mar 30, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Hi there,

    I've had Meg for 3years now, she was a rescue dog, she's been neutered and we got our younger dog 1y6mths ago which she took too no problem or issues he's a boy.

    Over the last month she has been starting to snarl to me when I am telling her "no" grabbing me when I go to get her at the collar (to re-attach her lead) she is also starting to ignore my husband and is snapping at the pup.

    We have had the newer dog since he was 16weeks, they have played nice ever since, there has been no change in his behaviour.

    I am very worried about this behaviour

    any advise/help you be grateful

  2. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

    Jul 1, 2010
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    First port of call is Vet health check, when you see a change in behaviour like this out of the blue. She could have something like an ear infection which makes her sensitive to being grabbed for instance, or a deeper condition affecting behaviour.

    As you're mentioning warning signs of aggression to humans, sounds like you need Professional Qualified Behaviourist advice, not just tips from a forum; see Advice on Behavourist and the Sticky thread for more info. If you have pet insurance cover, a behavourist may be covered if referred by vet.

    Till then, try and avoid conflict with the dog, and be gentle, not grabbing etc it may be causing her pain, or cause you pain if it escalates to a bite.
  3. leashedForLife

    Nov 1, 2009
    Likes Received:
    hey, Bryony :)
    this does sound worrisome, but i'd like some more details, if possible -
    was Meg an adult on arrival? Approx how old is she now?
    what breeds or mixes are both dogs?

    the male-dog is now about 22-MO - is he neutered? i ask because many male dogs show more aggro-behavior
    and more bossy or intrusive, rude behavior at this age, as they are on the brink of social-adulthood, when other
    dogs decide U are all grown-up -- transitions in dogs, just like in humans are stressful & their behavior changes.
    a neonate, an infant creeping, a toddler, a 2 to 3-YO, a preschool child, a 6th-grader, a teenager, young adult,
    post-25-YO, middle-aged adults... they all have different behaviors, concerns, pleasures & interests.

    in pups, transitions include 14 to 21-days eyes & ears open, 5-WO up on legs, approx 7 to 9-WO weaning,
    approx 8-WO leave dam & sibs for a human-home, 16-WO/4-MO pup-license expires, 6-MO full puberty,
    MALES: approx 9-MO testosterone peak, both sexes 18-MO to 2-YO social adulthood;
    Giant breeds & mixes, from 30-MO to 3-YO is social adulthood transition.
    so his behavior at approx 2-YO can be affecting her own behavior; neutering him if he's intact
    can help reduce her behavioral symptoms. If he is already desexed, there can still be behavior changes in him
    which affect her own behavior, but they should be much less intense.

    the very-first thing that jumps out at me is snarls when i tell her 'No'. she is no puppy, & U've had her
    for 3 years - by this time, if there has been any training going on, 'No' should be pointless
    except very very rarely, in novel circumstances - because she should have fluent, well-proofed behaviors
    on cue, even under distractions
    - 'no' after all is useless for telling the dog what TO Do, it only says,
    'don't do whatever U are doing' - which is not only vague, it's a pretty complex concept. :confused:
    if she has had no training, i'd get that begun ASAP - and make sure that it is reward-based, NOT with aversives:
    no choke, prong or shock-collars, not scolding or correcting but teach what U want, & reward when she complies.
    if U tell us where the nearest town/city is, or what district or county, we may be able to recommend someone. :)

    the 2nd thing that jumps-out at me is she snaps or mouths U when U reach for her collar -
    what sort of collar? standard buckle-type or tag-collar? choke-chain or prong? fabric-martingale?
    fabric-martingale with a chain loop where the leash attaches?

    * has she been scolded or smacked while using the collar to keep her from taking off & escaping the scolding?
    even if that happened in puphood when she made toileting errors, before U ever met her, that can be a past strong
    association, so if U seem at all cranky, short, impatient, frustrated, etc, she may become defensive - try not to
    take it personally, if it is a past-history issue; just re-teach collar grabs, starting at home, in a quiet room,
    & taking her collar FROM BELOW her chin, very gently -
    perhaps with her up on a hassock, to change the setting -
    that avoids having U bend-over her, 'looming' often triggers defensive behavior, while if she's up on a bench,
    chair, sofa, etc, and U reach under her collar, the context is different.
    pair every collar-touch with a small but high-quality treat - first just touch from below, then gently lift the collar,
    still from below, then move to the side of her neck, TOUCH & treat, do both sides, LIFT & treat, both sides,
    then TOUCH the collar at the back of her neck, go back to sides & below, LIFT at all 3 places [each side & below],
    then return to the back of her neck, TOUCH & treat, lift each side & treat, finally try lifting the collar at the back
    of her neck & treat, lift at the sides & treat, lift from underneath & treat... then begin to grasp it faster & more firmly,
    but if she gets anxious at any level, back-up one step until she is wagging & open-mouthed when she
    sees Ur hand moving toward her neck, shoulder, head or collar.

    this is desensitization & counter-conditioning - habituate or get them used to it [desensitize],
    & make the formerly-nasty thing a nice thing by associating it with known good-stuff [counter = go against].
    classical conditioning simply pairs a formerly-neutral or novel thing, like a 'Click!' from a box-clicker,
    with nice stuff - treats, fun games, enjoyable activities, etc.

    the 3rd thing i think of is thyroid issues - or another metabolic disorder, but thyroid is the #1 suspect:
    a blood-sample drawn & sent to the Michigan State University vet-lab for analysis is the gold-standard for
    a thyroid analysis, & the panel should have 5 data-points: free & bound T3, free & bound T4, and TSH:
    Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. Free & bound forms are floor & ceiling, the measure needed is the distance between.
    MSU has the world's largest database of breed-specific thyroid values, so they have a huge sample for 'normal'
    & can make an excellent comparison for high, norm, low, etc.

    even if the dog has no physical symptoms of hypothyroid, dogs as young as 9-MO have been diagnosed;
    young adults & middle-aged adults are prime-time for onset, & subclinical cases without hair-loss, wt-gain, etc,
    can still be affected behaviorally; if she comes back borderline low on the 5-way thyroid panel,
    i would ask the vet about a short-term test with low-dose thyroid supplement to see if it helps;
    if her behavior improves, there's the answer - U need to LOG unusual events before her Dx & treatment,
    & after, to see the change: What happened, NOT what U think bout it or how U feel about it, Who was there,
    what happened before, any known triggers, what happened after, What the dog DID - not 'vicious snarl',
    but 'froze for a few seconds with hard-eyes, then bit my husband on the hand - no broken skin, minor bruises.'

    generally a low-dose thyroid supplement for approx 3-weeks will show whether this helps or not.
    good luck, i hope it is something simple.
  4. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

    Aug 11, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Was going to suggest vet check too as other OPs, cant echo enough on leashed suggestion of a thyroid test. Ive had four with hypo thyroid now.
    3 having the later onset idiopathic at around age 10 to 11. But the youngest
    was only 1yr 11mths when she had a seizure question/something ingested.
    she had a massize seizure a month later at 2. I insisted on a thyroid panel as its a problem in the breed, there is a link to seizures and the auto immune thyroiditis can make an appearance before 3 years old. She was barely 2, seriously low thyroid, plus she has got the auto immune form. All 4 dogs have had different symptoms too. 2 were classic unexplained weight gain, and exercise intolerance. 3rd was great weight, super fit for age 11, had an op, which took longer than usual to heal and fur didnt grow back, when tested she was hypo thyroid, and the youngest only symptom was seizures.
    There is a very big link to behavioural changes and aggression too. So well worth considering a test. Its being more and more heard of in all breeds now.
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