Dog problems! Displaced aggression. Prozac? Long post

arlosmomOctober 25, 2013

Hello, I've been an infrequent poster on this forum, but I've got a bad situation and could really use some help.

I have 2 rescue dogs, Calley and Ringo. We got Calley about 3 years ago as a 12 week old pup and she has always had some emotional issues. About 6 months after we got Calley, we got Ringo to try and help with her fears. I've included my earlier post from about this timeframe just to give some background. Forum members were wonderfully supportive and gave great advice.

Having two dogs has been a challenge. In the house they are pretty wonderful together although they chase the cats more than I'd like. They are bonded to each other, play great together and have no food aggression issues. She is the bigger, stronger, and more exuberant of the two, but he keeps up with her great.

Going outside with them can be a crapshoot. Lots of times we have perfect loose-leash dog walks, but sometimes we have real problems. She gets very excited by squirrels and rabbits, and they take turns with leash aggression issues; she's worse than he is, but he's far from perfect. She seems to look for opportunities to get overly excited, and they feed off each other's excitement.

So here's the real problem and where I feel like I'm in over my head...about two dozen times over the course of the past two and a half years Calley has displayed displacement aggression (my vet's term) where she gets overly excited by something she sees or smells and attacks Ringo. It seems to come out of nowhere and it only takes an instant for her to go from zero to 100. Up until yesterday it has always just been a lot of noise. It has usually happened when they are on leash, lots of times right when we walk out the front door. We have tried to recognize the triggers and keep her on a real tight leash until it passes. Stressful, but I thought we were managing it.

Yesterday I had them with me at a friend's house. My friend has a fenced yard and they were running all around for 15 or 20 minutes and having a great time. I don't know if she saw something (cat? squirrel?) or what, but out of nowhere she started attacking him. They were in the corner by the fence so he couldn't get away. In the 10 seconds it took for me to get there from across the yard she bit him about 10 times. She got his front leg, his back leg, his ear. It was awful.

I drove Calley home, shoved her in the front door, and took Ringo straight to the vet. They got him all cleaned up, stapled the worst gash in his leg closed, and gave me antibiotics. The vet and I were talking about the attack and what I can do. He said the only sure way to prevent another attack is to permanently separate them (get rid of one). We're not ready to even consider that option yet. Another of his suggestions was Prozac for Calley. We're going to give that a try. Looking back, we can see that she's consistently had fear/anxiety/excitement issues. She's like Dr Jeckell and Mr Hyde. She's usually affectionate and sweet and can be incredibly gentle, except when she's not.

So right now I'm sitting on the couch with poor Ringo curled up next to me with his funnel on, all covered in gashes, and I'm feeling lost and discouraged. If anybody has suggestions, I'd really appreciate them.

Here is a link that might be useful: earlier post about Calley and Ringo

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We had exactly this problem, except our Casey (the aggressor) never broke skin in his attacks. A year and a half after the aggression started, Casey had two grand mal seizures. I took him to the neurological ER about a half hour away, and they diagnosed him with a brain tumor. Treating the brain tumor lessened the attacks until toward the end of his life. Here is a link to my posting here asking for help when the aggression became a problem, then an update after he died several years later. You may find the suggestions that were given to me to be helpful to you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Casey's story

    Bookmark   October 27, 2013 at 3:35PM
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This is a pretty serious situation, as you know. You are probably best off consulting with a behaviorist/trainer. Find one that works will positive reinforcement only, no talk of dominance, pack hierarchy, punishment of any kind. That kind of talk has been debunked, and that kind of training will not help your reactive dog. The ASPCA has a page on finding professional help for your dog (I'll try and post it for you). I also second thoroughly investigating for any kind of neurological issue. I would suggest keeping them separated until you have some answers. Best of luck with this difficult issue!

Here's the link to that website:

This post was edited by sarabera on Tue, Oct 29, 13 at 23:58

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 11:56PM
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Im sorry you are having this problem. This is a tough one, because you never know when your little one is going to go off. My suggestion is
1. Start basic training ASAP
focus on sit, stay and leave it. Train EVERYDAY for an hour a day. MINIMUM
2. You might want to consider a muzzle while you are out walking.
3. Be certain when you start your walks to take charge, and to maintain calm (no asking the dogs if they want to go for a walk - waiting until they are calm before walking out the door)
4. This is the hard one. Try to anticipate your dogs moves. Often times you can tell before your dog is going to go off. Ears go up, body goes tighter. You can put your dog in a sit stay and REDIRECT your dogs attention to you by holding a treat by you and asking your dog to focus on you (either until the critter or situation passes)
5 you can keep your rambunctous furkid on a shorter leash, and walk her on one side while walking your other dog on the opposite side of you - minimizing the ability to attack your other furkid when something happens to excite her. Hope some of these help, Good luck

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 2:10PM
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