Dog problems! Displaced aggression. Prozac? Long post
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