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Sudden Aggression Toward Other Dog


Guest masa
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Ok so I'm still a bit shocked about this but this is what just happened a little while ago. My dogs go out to go potty at about noon, so I call them to let them out, Swirl (greyhound) is laying in her crate and Molly (little dog) is laying in her own crate. Swirl some how got her hind claw caught in her blanket I have no idea how and she starts screaming. So I sprint into the next room to get to her and I see Molly shoot to Swirls cage and she jumps in snarling and growling just the most vicious God awful sound and she starts lunging for Swirls throat and face so I reach in yelling at Molly while Swirls still screaming and grab her by the collar and stuff her into her own cage and get back to Swirl who by this point has stopped screaming and is waiting for me to come get her. Both of the dogs are healthy and they sleep in the same room as each other willingly. Molly has never ever done this, she only barks at Swirl when Swirl panics because of storms. The dogs are separate now but oh my gosh my heart is still going a mile a minuet. What the heck would have caused Molly to react like that? I've had them for about two years and they have never shown any signs of any real aggression toward each other.

Edited by masa
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Unfortunately it is a thing which can happen with dogs when one of them appears to be, or is hurt. As far as I am aware it is an instinctive behaviour that happens because they can't have a weak or injured member in the pack so the others dogs will finish it off. Sounds dreadful but it happens a lot.

 

I had my first two greyhounds from pups, they were litter brothers but when one of them had a seizure the other one tried to attack him, we screamed blue murder at him (out of shock mostly) and he stopped, and fortunately never did it again although his brother had further seizures.

 

I really don't know what to suggest you do if a similar situation arose, apart from scolding the perpetrator...but as the behaviour seems to be instinctive I could not guarantee it wouldn't happen again. Others may have more sage advice.

<p>"One day I hope to be the person my dog thinks I am"Sadi's Pet Pages Sadi's Greyhound Data PageMulder1/9/95-21/3/04 Scully1/9/95-16/2/05Sadi 7/4/99 - 23/6/13 CroftviewRGT

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This phenomenon is quite scary, but not unusual. In larger groups of dogs, this instinct can trigger the entire pack to attack the one that is screaming. I know one of the common explanations for this type of behavior is that it is due to an instinct to eliminate the weakest member of the pack, but personally, I think it has more to do with the screaming and flailing triggering an instinctive prey drive. Triggers usually include screaming and struggling, or seizure activity. Once the 'victim' dog is back to normal, it's usually not a problem. One of the reasons I don't think it's due to wanting to eliminate the weakest link is because dogs don't tend to attack old, weak dogs that gradually decline due to age and illness. This seems to be more of an acutely triggered response to screaming and sudden, irregular activity like seizures.

Jennifer &

Willow (Wilma Waggle), Wiki (Wiki Hard Ten), Carter (Let's Get It On),

Ollie (whippet), Gracie (whippet x), & Terra (whippet) + Just Saying + Just Alice

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The others are correct. However, I'm not in total agreement with Jennifer (JJNg).

I don't think it has anything to do with prey drive at all. IMHO, the reason that these dogs attack screaming dogs and not elderly-in-decline dogs is simple: the pack needed to get the screamer to shut up as quickly as possible to prevent the position of the pack being given away - perhaps to protect themselves against attack by larger animals (or man), or perhaps during hunting or scavenging, when a screamer would have prevented everyone from eating that day. I have read that adult dogs will also grab and hold the muzzles of pups who get too excited during the hunt for much the same reason.

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The plural of anecdote is not data

Brambleberry Greyhounds My Etsy Shop

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But, seizing dogs don't make any noise and are also often attacked. All of the dog seizures I've seen, the dogs don't thrash either. They just tense up and maybe twitch a bit.

Scully's seizures always started with a blood curdling scream, he would also thrash and his legs would make running motions. I agree that it is mostly the noise that provokes an attack. I have seen a few nasty injuries incurred where the dog made no or little noise and other dogs were not provoked to attack.

<p>"One day I hope to be the person my dog thinks I am"Sadi's Pet Pages Sadi's Greyhound Data PageMulder1/9/95-21/3/04 Scully1/9/95-16/2/05Sadi 7/4/99 - 23/6/13 CroftviewRGT

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I think it might be interesting to try to explore the cause of this behavior more fully. It seems that most people buy into the explanation of 'eliminating the weak member of the pack'. If it was an instinct to get rid of pack members that are a liability due to being weak, then old, injured, and sick dogs would be routinely dispatched, but we don't typically see that.

Silverfish's theory is interesting and makes sense from the noise aspect, but doesn't support the 'weakest link' theory since a screaming dog isn't necessarily weak, or even truly injured. And as Sambuca mentioned, seizing dogs that don't make noise are attacked too. I'd be curious to know if the seizure dogs that get attacked have seizures where they thrash around, or if the ones that just lie still and tense up get attacked too?

The only incidence of this that I've personally witnessed happened in my backyard earlier this year. My 9-month-old (at the time) whippet puppy got a little overwhelmed while being chased by one of my greyhounds and started screaming as she ran. This triggered my greyhound foster to go after her, in turn triggering my own greyhounds to join in. From what I could see in the chaos, it seemed like the screaming and running triggered the instinct to chase, which turned into trying to grab and catch prey. They were mostly biting at her back and hindquarters, not her face or muzzle.

Anyone else have experiences and observations to share on what the actual trigger for these events seemed to be? Maybe we should move this to a thread of it's own?

Jennifer &

Willow (Wilma Waggle), Wiki (Wiki Hard Ten), Carter (Let's Get It On),

Ollie (whippet), Gracie (whippet x), & Terra (whippet) + Just Saying + Just Alice

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True, it doesn't explain why seizing dogs get attacked. There may be more than one cause, and possibly one IS prey drive related over-excitement.

 

The only times I've witnessed it in one of my dogs, Jeffie wanted to bite a spaniel which was doing the high-pitched yelping, throwing itself manically around thing. It was either excited or stressed and using displacement activity as an outlet, but it was whirling around near the ground like a demented (and very noisy) mop. Jeffie appeared disturbed rather than anything else and was quite focused at trying to bite at it as it came near him. He looked half-scared and half-intent. When it stopped whirling and squealing, he immediately quietened down himself. It was as if he didn't like it and wanted it to stop. When it stopped, he completely lost interest in it - unlike any prey-driven behaviour I've seen.

 

I wonder if the seizing dogs are broadcasting some kind of upsetting electrical activity? We know dogs can sense all kinds of things we can't, including imminent seizures, as well as earthquakes, thunderstorms in the distance, blood sugar fluctuations etc. Could be that that upsets them.

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The plural of anecdote is not data

Brambleberry Greyhounds My Etsy Shop

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I was watching some greyhounds once and one had a seizure where he tensed up (no screaming) and another dog tried attacking him. Thankfully I was already hugging the seizing dog so he wouldn't fall over and pushed the other did away.

Edited by Sambuca
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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

My bridge girl Jesse's nick name was the black swan because of this exact situation. Any hound in the house that would scream would instantly be jumped on by Jesse. All the hounds were muzzled when we were gone as a result of her propensity for "clearing" wounded animals. Funny thing about her, she cornered a squirrel in the yard once and didn't go in for the kill. When i would train with the lure pole, she would back away as the tail came around towards her, then when it went around, she would start to chase. She didn't have the kill instinct in the yard. My other two hounds have dispatched many rabbits, squirrels birds etc. but Jesse didn't do any of that outside, so I don't know if there is a direct association between prey drive and this behavior. At least with my girl Jesse there wasn't a relationship between the two. I have always thought that the reason was to cull the pack when one gets weak "pack mentality" as I have read about. But who knows.

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I think it might be interesting to try to explore the cause of this behavior more fully. It seems that most people buy into the explanation of 'eliminating the weak member of the pack'. If it was an instinct to get rid of pack members that are a liability due to being weak, then old, injured, and sick dogs would be routinely dispatched, but we don't typically see that...

 

Interesting. I wonder if it has something to do with a seizure mimicking rabies?

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Interesting. I wonder if it has something to do with a seizure mimicking rabies?

 

That doesn't make sense to me, because surely, in survival terms, the last thing a healthy dog needs to do is get close to one with rabies, especially in the 'unpredictable behaviour' stage. If there were one thing that dogs had evolved to do to deal with rabies, I'd expect it to be 'get as far away as possible and stay away'. :dunno

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The plural of anecdote is not data

Brambleberry Greyhounds My Etsy Shop

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