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Unprovoked Aggression - New Behavior


Guest ArgusRun
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Guest ArgusRun

I've had Robbie for almost 2 years now. About three months after I got him I got a new boss, a new position and longer hours. He still had seperation anxiety, so I found a doggy day camp that had other greyhounds and did overnight boarding. He has blossomed there. He learned to play with toys and other dogs.

 

He has always been protective of his space with other dogs, warning them away with a grow or a snap if they don't listen when he lies down to nap. The other dogs are cool with it as is the staff.

 

The past week however, he has gone after two dogs unprovoked. Today he drew blood. I see no change in behavior at home, with people, with other dogs while on leash or with my cat. The camp was very understanding (I do spend a lot of money there, and he has been on the receiving end before) and are willing to keep him seperate from the other dogs (he prefers this anyway), but I can't have him being aggressive with other dogs. This is a new behavior for him and really very distressing.

 

Any help, or anyone else ever see such a drastic change in behavior in their dogs?

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Guest ArgusRun

Does your dog use Calming Signals on other dogs? This is how they normally get along both by reading what the other dog is 'saying' with its body language and by replying in kind as they meet.

(Info about calming signals may be found here:

http://www.canis.no/rugaas/onearticle.php?artid=1

 

Some... He doesn't lick, but he turns his head to avoid eye contact, freezes, approaches slowely etc. This is all on leash though and when meeting new dogs. I never see him close up in the play yard with the other dogs, so I can't identify any calming behaviors there.

 

Ironically he's great with fearful or anxious dogs in our building because he ignores them completely. He's the only dog some of the other dogs will ride in the elevator with.

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If this is completely unprovoked behavior and with a sudden onset, a vet visit for a complete check-up might be in order. Make sure they run complete bloodwork, including free T4 (thyroid test). See threads in the Health&Medical section for "normal" greyhound values. Low thyroid can be a cause of fear-based behaviors. Pain can also cause a dog to react more strongly to getting crowded or stepped on.

 

Don't necessarily put all the blame on your greyhound. Consider the other dogs involved as well. Are these dogs he normally plays with well or are they newcomers to his dog-day-care pack? Are they dogs he has a problem with when he's not laying down? Are they pushy and don't back off when he warns them away? Was he really aggressive or only upping the level of warning?

 

Just some things to consider.

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Guest ArgusRun

My first thought was that it might be something medical. As far as I know, he's not going after new dogs, and the behaviour is completely unprovoked. He's always been a bit snappy about his personal space, so the staff is used to that. His current behavior is out of the ordinary.

 

His diet changed in the past two weeks. He's always had loose stool and a sensitive stomach. After a particularly bad spell of diarrhea, I started him on a diet of boiled rice, boiled chicken and broccolli. His stool has been better than ever and he's maintaining weight. I questioned the owner of the camp if the diet might have had something to do with it and he doubted it, but I will make an appointement with the vet. I was thinking thyroid too.

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I agree with taking him for a checkup. How often is he at daycare? For some dogs it can get overwhelming if they are there 5 days a week. Is he still having seperation anxiety issues? If now, or if they are pretty mild, try only taking him to day care for 3 or 4 days (either Mon, weds, fri or every day bu weds) for a few weeks and see if that helps. He may just need some more chill time. (I've worked at doggy day cares and I'm a pet sitter, so I have seen this before.)

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I agree with taking him for a checkup. How often is he at daycare? For some dogs it can get overwhelming if they are there 5 days a week. Is he still having seperation anxiety issues? If now, or if they are pretty mild, try only taking him to day care for 3 or 4 days (either Mon, weds, fri or every day bu weds) for a few weeks and see if that helps. He may just need some more chill time. (I've worked at doggy day cares and I'm a pet sitter, so I have seen this before.)

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Guest ArgusRun

I agree with taking him for a checkup. How often is he at daycare? For some dogs it can get overwhelming if they are there 5 days a week. Is he still having seperation anxiety issues? If now, or if they are pretty mild, try only taking him to day care for 3 or 4 days (either Mon, weds, fri or every day bu weds) for a few weeks and see if that helps. He may just need some more chill time. (I've worked at doggy day cares and I'm a pet sitter, so I have seen this before.)

 

He is there 5 days a week, and that was another thought. But he's been going that often for over a year.

 

His seperation anxiety has gotten significantly better. I have no problem leaving him for 5 hours at a time. I haven't done longer with that. The problem is the long hours I've been working. At the office at 7:30 am and picking him up at camp at 6:45 pm. It would mean adjusting my schedule two days a week and/or getting a dog walker. All of which I am happy to do, but I think everyone is right. I think I should rule out something medical first.

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He has always been protective of his space with other dogs, warning them away with a grow or a snap if they don't listen when he lies down to nap. The other dogs are cool with it as is the staff.

 

The past week however, he has gone after two dogs unprovoked. Today he drew blood. I see no change in behavior at home, with people, with other dogs while on leash or with my cat. The camp was very understanding (I do spend a lot of money there, and he has been on the receiving end before) and are willing to keep him seperate from the other dogs (he prefers this anyway), but I can't have him being aggressive with other dogs. This is a new behavior for him and really very distressing.

 

Any help, or anyone else ever see such a drastic change in behavior in their dogs?

 

Medical checkup wouldn't hurt, but take a look at the parts I bolded above. Sounds like he doesn't like free mingling and never has, and possibly he's just reached his limit.

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Guest ArgusRun

He has always been protective of his space with other dogs, warning them away with a grow or a snap if they don't listen when he lies down to nap. The other dogs are cool with it as is the staff.

 

The past week however, he has gone after two dogs unprovoked. Today he drew blood. I see no change in behavior at home, with people, with other dogs while on leash or with my cat. The camp was very understanding (I do spend a lot of money there, and he has been on the receiving end before) and are willing to keep him seperate from the other dogs (he prefers this anyway), but I can't have him being aggressive with other dogs. This is a new behavior for him and really very distressing.

 

Any help, or anyone else ever see such a drastic change in behavior in their dogs?

 

Medical checkup wouldn't hurt, but take a look at the parts I bolded above. Sounds like he doesn't like free mingling and never has, and possibly he's just reached his limit.

 

I agree that he doesn't like to be in with the other dogs for long, but about 4 months ago, he learned to really play with the other dogs... chasing, wrestling, he even humped a little black lab. But he's a greyhound. He wants to run and play for like three minutes and then he goes and lies down. When he does this, the staff has learned to put him back alone in his cabin. Today he interrupted his play to run across the yard and bite the other dog. None of his normal prickly behaviors or cues. From play to attack with no warning that I saw on the tape.

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Not guaranteeing that "straw that broke the camel's back" is what happened, but I've seen it in a few dogs. I have one here who doesn't always warn before going on the offensive.

 

Really just another angle to consider. Hope you can get things sorted out for your pup.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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My first thought is this: Was it truly unprovoked? Did the staff see every last bit of the interaction/s that led up to his snap?

 

I don't mean to suggest they are incompetent. First of all, i was not there, and I do not know these people or the facility> I suspect they are more than competent. However, it's possible that they were watching something else, and missed a small cue that led to something larger. It happens, even among our own dogs at home.

 

But, a full medical check, as others have mentioned, is definitely a good place to start...

 

Good luck!

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Always in our hearts, Gunnar, Naples the Greyhounds, Cooper and Manero, the Borzoi, and King-kitty, at the Rainbow Bridge.

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Guest ArgusRun

Not guaranteeing that "straw that broke the camel's back" is what happened, but I've seen it in a few dogs. I have one here who doesn't always warn before going on the offensive.

 

Really just another angle to consider. Hope you can get things sorted out for your pup.

 

Thanks...

 

I'm going to really check out the medical issue. His diet changed recently.

 

My problem is I don't want to lose this facility as a resource. They really have been great. They have a new trainer too who rents the space upstairs. We had talked earlier about his space issue, but he basically confirmed what I thought, which was it wasn't abnormal for a greyhound and as long as he gave the proper cues to the other dogs and they understood them, there wan't much to do besides limit his time in the yard.

 

What's killing me is this... I work at my family's company. My dad is chairman. He's mentioned before that he has no problem with me bringing Robbie into work. No on else is allowed to do so, and I try not to take advantage. But it's really, really tempting right now just to bring him into work with me. I do so on the weekends and on holidays already, but not during normal business hours. I just know the president wouldn't like it (he would never say so though).

 

My first thought is this: Was it truly unprovoked? Did the staff see every last bit of the interaction/s that led up to his snap?

 

I don't mean to suggest they are incompetent. First of all, i was not there, and I do not know these people or the facility> I suspect they are more than competent. However, it's possible that they were watching something else, and missed a small cue that led to something larger. It happens, even among our own dogs at home.

 

But, a full medical check, as others have mentioned, is definitely a good place to start...

 

Good luck!

 

NOrmally I'd agree, but they are very used to Robbie's cues and triggers, so I don't think they missed anything. That said, I'm going to watch the whole tape in the morning (they tape the yards) so I can see the actions leading up to the incident.

 

You know, I almost wish it was something medical, because it suggests a concrete answer or treatment rather than some unknown behavior change based on his mood.

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Guest Swifthounds

If they have tapes of more than one incident (I believe you said it has happened more than once) perhaps you can isolate something they have in common?

 

I know you don't want to lose this place as a resource, but it may be that either having him at home or taking him to work with you will give him the break he needs. The incidents, regardless of the cause (new food, medical condition, etc.) will become more ingrained as a behavior the longer they continue. Things that start as a medical issue can evolve into a behavioral issue over time. I'd also be concerned that your hound or another dog that is already on guard could escalate. The more negative experience he has, the more likely he is to generalize that to other dogs on walks or elsewhere.

 

Dogs don't draw blood as a warning. They snap, snarl and come close. They connect either by accident (other dog moves) or because they've issued warnings that haven't been heeded.

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Guest KennelMom

He has always been protective of his space with other dogs, warning them away with a grow or a snap if they don't listen when he lies down to nap. The other dogs are cool with it as is the staff.

 

The past week however, he has gone after two dogs unprovoked. Today he drew blood. I see no change in behavior at home, with people, with other dogs while on leash or with my cat. The camp was very understanding (I do spend a lot of money there, and he has been on the receiving end before) and are willing to keep him seperate from the other dogs (he prefers this anyway), but I can't have him being aggressive with other dogs. This is a new behavior for him and really very distressing.

 

Any help, or anyone else ever see such a drastic change in behavior in their dogs?

 

Medical checkup wouldn't hurt, but take a look at the parts I bolded above. Sounds like he doesn't like free mingling and never has, and possibly he's just reached his limit.

 

 

My thoughts exactly.

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Guest LindsaySF

He has always been protective of his space with other dogs, warning them away with a grow or a snap if they don't listen when he lies down to nap. The other dogs are cool with it as is the staff.

 

The past week however, he has gone after two dogs unprovoked. Today he drew blood. I see no change in behavior at home, with people, with other dogs while on leash or with my cat. The camp was very understanding (I do spend a lot of money there, and he has been on the receiving end before) and are willing to keep him seperate from the other dogs (he prefers this anyway), but I can't have him being aggressive with other dogs. This is a new behavior for him and really very distressing.

 

Any help, or anyone else ever see such a drastic change in behavior in their dogs?

 

Medical checkup wouldn't hurt, but take a look at the parts I bolded above. Sounds like he doesn't like free mingling and never has, and possibly he's just reached his limit.

My thoughts exactly.

Same here. It sounds like he's had enough of mingling with so many other dogs.

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Guest ArgusRun

Quick update. I took Robbie into the office today since I had an early meeting and called to make an appointment at the vet. I talked to the daycamp and one of the employees there said there had been an incident earlier in the week when he wouldn't come out of his cabin. Now when he laid down on one side, I saw it. A massive bruise on his chest and into the right foreleg .

4459784213_23071a15d0.jpg

It looks like he probably collided with someone when they were running. It has happened before, and it does usually take a few days for the bruise to show. In fact the last time he growled at a person and refused to go out was when he had a similar bruise about a year ago.

 

I'm still taking him to the vet for a checkout and some blood work, but if he's in pain, that could definitely be the cause of his behavior.

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How big where the other dogs? Did this begin at the beginning of their playtime or near the end when they were tired?

 

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Guest SoulsMom

I just read this thread . . . my gut instinct is that he doesn't like being in that environment, esp after reading your last post.

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From the picture it looks like something happened earlier in the week to precipitate this exchange and hopefully the bruises will not be anything serious.

 

As an aside and please do not take offense, if you are feeding a "home-made" meal you might want to consider adding supplements to his diet (calcium and vitamins, maybe fish oil). The only reason I suggest this is that I have been feeding "home-made" for years and have had diets made up by vet nutritionists and she stresses how very important the supplements are.

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Guest Giselle

In my experience and in my studies, nothing is ever truly "unprovoked". There's got to be something. It may be behavioral, it may be medical, it may be social, it may be environmental. The fact is that it's there, and it's up to us to intervene as soon as we notice the provocation. You say he's always been protective around other dogs. That means that close contact with a constant flux of dogs is not his forte. That in and of itself is a stressor, a provocation. If he doesn't enjoy it and it causes him to warn, it's a form of stress. It may be mild at first, but if you stick him in a constant state of having to fend off other dogs, that "mild" stress will become intolerable.

 

From what you say about his behavior and the behavior of the other animals, it sounds like all your pup needs is a quieter, less social environment. It's true you can't have him developing aggressive behaviors, but it sounds like those aggressive behaviors are just how he's learning to cope with the environment. So, give him a different environment, and he won't be aggressive. It's not his choice to lash out or not; it's a necessity. The other dogs aren't listening, so he has to drive them away. Remove the provocation and he will not aggress. If you love the facility, ask if you can keep him alone most of the time or with the older, less active dogs.

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