Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

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Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Lis on Fri Mar 04, 2011 2:54 pm

Hi everyone

I've just encountered a behavoural issue with my gorgeous young staffy which has really upset me (call me a muppet, lol). I rehomed him at 10 months old from what appeared to be a fairly stable family who's reason for rehoming him was the parents had lost their jobs and they had 3 young children to support, so could not afford to have pets anymore.

Apart from my dog having a few recall issues and playing a bit rough with some dogs, he has been an angel up to now, well pretty much ha ha. His only vice was chewing in the first few months I had him, but now he has settled down and is happy in his new home and enviroment, he does not do this anymore (only his toys and bones) which is a huge relief and less of a dent on my bank balance!

He goes out everyday with my friend who walks him for me when I am at work and is out for up to 4 hours a day so he is only ever on his own for a maximum of 4 hours and he he is settled into his daily routine. He has been socialised with a lot of dogs of all different breeds since day 1 of having him and has always got on fine with other dogs and takes a telling if he is being too boistorous and needs putting in his place by other dogs.

A couple of weeks back a border terrier had a go a him and he tolerated it to an extent and then finally had enough and pinned it to the ground. My friend was walking him at the time and she has a lot of experience of dogs and behaviour and was not concerned at the time and was able to separate the dogs and neither dog was harmed. The border terrier somewhat shaken up, but not harmed in any way.

Since then he started to show more agressive behaviour towards smaller dogs, of which before he paid no interest and was only interested in running and playing with the bigger dogs. Then yesterday he was out with about 5 dogs and he suddenly went for a dog around his size and got it round the throat. It took 2 famale adults some considerable time to prize him off the other dog as he had locked his jaw around the dog's throat. They got him off eventually but he immediately went back for the dog this time with a tighter hold. Nothing would make him release the dog and in the end it took a hard smack on the head with a stick which finally made him let go and left him with a lump on his head. Fortunately he did not draw blood and the other dog was just shacken up and no real harm done, but I dread to think what could have happened!!

I was told by a dog behavourist that I would need to muzzle him from now on if he is off lead and he will need to receive special training to try and break him of this sudden aggressive behaviour, which he has never shown before. I have been told it could be something to do with his age and that between now and 2 years he will be developing further and this could attribute towards his behaviour.

What upset me most is that the dog he sees on a daily basis who he is best buddies with and even gives his toys and bones to, he went for last night in my home when she came over to visit. I was told this way maybe due to a reaction at what had happened yesterday as it had unsettled him, but now I am extremely worried that I cannot trust him at all with a dog I thought he was completely settled with.

I know you can never really trust any dogs behaviour 100% but I am very upset about his sudden change in behaviour towards other dogs and the fact that he may not be able to play with other dogs again how he did before. I will be starting the behavioural training very shortly but I still cannot shake the feeling that my dog will never be the same again.

I have read that agressiveness is a breed trait and this is my first staffy, but just wondered if there is some hope that he will become a good dog again. He is so bright, loving and such a happy dog, I would hate to think I have a problem dog that everyone looks at in the street with that typical "anti staff" look when they see him muzzled Sad

Anybody who has any tips or has been thru something similar, I would very much welcome to hear from.

Much thanks

Lis

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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Guest on Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:39 pm

Ok to start your friend should of corrected any dominant behaviour and should of stopped him from being pushed around by the border terrier if dogs don't feel their handlers can protect them and control play and situation then they will step up and that is what he did. Second dogs don't get locked jaw sure enough their muscle in the jaw are extremely strong and can hold very tightly but it never actually locks its impractical for dogs to have locked jaw how would they eat drink defend its a myth. If he ever does it again and you struggle to have him release the other dog grab ahold of the collar and bring it up under his ears and twist its horrible but does the trick, also teaching him the leave command can be very important if you make it strong enough and plently of practice with it. he should release the other dog when you tell him to leave or release.
Set him a few boundaries if he doesn't already have some when it comes to him not leading on walks or entering door ways/gate ways etc. have him on a long lead in or out of the house when other dogs are around and if you see any sign (body language) of dominance or aggression give a correction and reward when he is calm, practice with toys and food dominant behaviour having him leave the toys or food by walking toward him when he has it very calm until he drops it and moves away from it,meaning he is giving it to you, never take it from his mouth it'll encourage chase and bite, while walking him he should be besides you while appraoching other dogs remain calm allow a sniff/greet and walk away with a reward.
Good luck

P.S have you thought about having him snipped? having him snipped will NOT cure aggression but it will fix dominance because the testosterone which feeds dominance comes in high supply from the testicles.
I'm not saying it will be a quick fix because it will not but if he is dominant aggressive then it will help alot but he is just aggressive then training will be the only way, but from what you said about the pinning the border terrier down then he sounds dominant aggressive.

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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Lis on Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:20 pm

Hi, thanks for your reply.

My friend is excellent with my dog and consistently puts a stop to all dominant behaviour, including yesterday before the incident. She is the one person I trust totally with my dog and who has also taught me alot about dogs and their behaviour since having my own dog. This is why it has been such a shock at his sudden recent aggressive attitude towards certain dogs.

My friend tried everything including the collar technique you have described above, but nothing would make him release the other dog.

I understand that the jaw locking is a myth, but as you say their jaws are so powerful that sometimes it can sure feel that way!

He was castrated at 7 months so I'm hoping his testosterone levels are not as high as they might be at this age, but I know he is still an adolescent and still growing, full of hormones and testing boundaries.

I imply boundaries at home as in always making sure I am first thru the door, not being allowed on sofas, upstairs or beds unless invited. I make him sit and wait at the door before enterin or leaving the house as I do in the car, which is also necessary for safety reasons outside the house/in the car.

There is defintely some dominant agressiveness there as he will still back down when told by another more dominant dog.

I was just mortified yesterday when he turned on my friend's dog who he spends a lot of time with. But she has told me not to worry as it was no doubt a reaction to what had happened yesterday. I am still very concerned however.

In the last couple weeks I have now retracted any privileges in the attempt to go back to basics and imply stricter boundaries in the hope that this improves his behaviour.

I know it is going to take time and hard work so I am determined to try and put a stop to this sudden change in his behaviour.

Lis

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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Guest on Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:29 pm

yep its in there blood, sometimes you dont see it often but it is always there, the only way to fix it is before it starts, you need to protect a staffy from other dogs whilst growing up! if you as the owner doesnt the dog sure will later on.....which is what has happened. hitting a staffy wont work and an make them worse, he could think hes been attacked from different angles and step it up a gear which will put you in a whole different situation....if i happens again speed is the key, you need to see it coming and be straight in there to stop it.....i wouldnt say you can fix it hes at an age now where hes finding his feet, but you need to show him known friendly dogs to build his confidence. at the mo he wont be sure which dogs will have a pop and which will play-hence show him nice friendly dogs...keep him away fom snarlers and yappers.....muzzles dont work and i dont have time for most dog behaviourists so thats upto you.....dont get down or upset staffies only have one downside and it just happend...

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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Lis on Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:51 pm

Thanks for your reply.

He mixes regularly and reallly well with friendly dogs and doesn't seem to go for yappy dogs, it's dogs that tend to be weaker than him. My mum has an 8 year old border collie and he has gone for her several times, but only in the home... and not just his home! Fortunately we have got in there quick, coz as you say, its about getting in there before anything can progress into something far worse.


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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Guest on Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:14 pm

could be just his age? hes pushing things to see how far he can go? hes at that age between puppy and adult, in an ideal world he wouldnt be dominated or be dominant but staffs are weird and its not easy to work them out! its a bit tricky to give advice as you dont want him chucking his weight around but you really dont want another dog doing the same to him! i always try to look at things simple.i.e if my dog is doing something im not happy with i come down on him-its all for him and not me, i can trust mine with a friendly dog but a bigger dog pushing him around is pritty much a no no and thats how he is, most are the same.....yours is still young so theres time to get him how you want-ish..........lots of staff owners dont like to admit it but a da staff male or female is very common...

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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Guest on Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:48 pm

ozbod1 wrote:lots of staff owners dont like to admit it but a da staff male or female is very common...

Very, very true. There is an element of dog aggressiveness in some staffs. If you have a dominant dog, you will always have to watch him & watch his reactions to other dogs around him. My own dog, although a BT is extremely dominant. I only llow him to play with certain dogs that I know will be submissive to him, and even then in a controlled environment ie a large garden.

A muzzle isn't the answer. You need to keep him on a lead around dogs you are unsure about, and you will need to distract him if you see that he is squaring up to them. Make him sit, offer a treat to make him look at you, instead of the dog. Once he has got over the nasty incident his confidence will rise again and he'll be less openly aggressive, but he will always know that he can. Get to know his body language and you will avoid any further unpleasantness.

It's not that bad having a da staff - believe me, my last staff hated other dogs, but we knew him & knew how far away a dog could be before we had to put him on a lead.

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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Guest on Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:21 am

and also dont forget the biggest one of them all-fear aggression which is why i bang on about protecting a staffy from nasty dogs because if not he will protect himself which is basically born out of fear, if you look at the big picture a confident happy go lucky dog has nothing to fear has a lot less chance of showing aggression...

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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Lis on Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:31 pm

He is not dog agressive as he has mixed with lots of dogs regularly in the 7 months I've had him with no issues apart from the occasional rough play which gets stopped.

My friend said that the incident that happened the other day started off as play but then he got carried away and took it too far. The dog it happened with was also the only dog in the group that was weaker than him.

The trouble is he turns deaf when he is playing and then thinks its a game when you go to get him to put on a lead. I'm working on improving his recall but know this will take time.

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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Guest on Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:35 am

A dominant dog will not normally go for the weaker ones, because they will not threaten him. They'll generally go for the stronger ones that display dominance towards him.

Do you know if the other dog showed any signs of aggression/dominance when they were playing, ie trying to climb onto his back, mouthing him hard, hackles raised, stiff leggedness?

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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Lis on Sun Mar 06, 2011 8:27 pm

Apparently my dog was playing with this other dog and when it got a bit rough the other dog backed off and then my dog just went for it for no visible apparent reason. Hence my distress as he's never indicated any agressive behaviour towards any other dog in the last 7 months of having him.

His only issue has been collar grabbing which of which I and my friend who walks him have always intervened and stopped.

It just seems to have stemmed from the incident with the border terrier when he realised he is able to pin down another dog which is weaker than himself.

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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Nosipho on Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:12 pm

Miss rogue - I wouldn't agree with what you said about twisting the collar to make a staff let go - it wont work! The dog will faint before it lets go. No a staff doesn't have a lock-jaw as some people believe but its jaw muscles are very strong and human hands will not be able to open the jaw. Trust me Ive found out the hard way so many times. You can use a break stick to open the mouth but you need to block him before it gets this far.

I think in this case it is the age of the dog, he is becoming fully sexually mature and is now fully grown. My younger bitch was the same, once she realised she was powerful and that other dogs could see it she started to take the mickey with them. You can train him out of it, especially if its taken so long for him to start being aggressive, it hasn't really sunk in. Keep him on-lead and work on making him come to you and sit, ignoring the other dog whenevrr he starts to get funny with them.

Having him neutered might stop these issues but personally this would be a last-ditch attempt for me.

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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Nosipho on Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:14 pm


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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by gem on Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:25 pm

You know I was exactly the same as you when my dog changed it was and still is such a shock. He spent his puppy time playing with others but always rough always pushing it there was never any warning with him it was just bang and I tried so hard to help him be good around other dogs.
He is quite happy to walk past other dogs but he has a boundry and if a dog went into that its over with.
When the red mist appears there is nothing I could do and as the others of said I beleive its typical of the breed and much more commom then we think.

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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Guest on Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:30 pm

Nosipho wrote: You can use a break stick to open the mouth but you need to block him before it gets this far.



I would NEVER use a break stick. They don't work unless you're really experienced in using them, and even then they can cause more damage to a dog than the actual fight. Dislocated/broken jaws & teeth for one thing. Also, nobody wants to walk around constantly with a break stick - it could even be classed as an offensive weapon. And in the time it takes to get the thing out of your pocket or wherever, you probably could have stopped the fight anyway!

The best way to stop a dog fight is to prevent it happening bu keeping a dog aggressive dog on lead when there are likely to be other dogs around. If a fight starts then twisting the collar is safer & more effective than a break stick.

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Just like my staffie

Post by Lucky on Mon Apr 15, 2013 9:55 pm

Hi Lis,
Reading your story was almost exactly the same as mine. I got my staffie at 6 months (he had not been socialised) - got him neutured and had no problems for a long time apart from a bit of rough playing and pulling collars etc. He always stopped when i corrected him if he was getting too rough or the other dog was not enjoying the play. I socialised him lots. He is now 16 months and unfortunaltey he pinned a dog down last week for about a minute and would not let go. It was horrible although he drew no blood but I was not in control of the situation and could not make him listen to me. I am now worried about socialising him. He does still play with dogs he knows but i no longer trust him. On the lead he is absolutely fine passing other dogs and is not generally aggressive natured.

Ihave been doing dog agility for 6 weeks and he loves it but I am not sure whether to continue. Why is a muzzle not the answer? I think I would feel a lot happier if he had a muzzle on!

I feel really upset as I wanted to get a staffie to promote what a lovely dog they are as I had heard that if you socialise them well from young you will be ok. Reading these forums it seems that this is not always the case! He is now part of the family and displays no other worrying behaviour. I suppose that I will never be able to fully trust him again. Walks are not so enjoyable when you have a potentially aggressive dog Sad

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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Guest on Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:01 pm

Hi Lucky, welcome to the forum Big Grin if you know any calm, well-behaved dogs, introduce him to them slowly on the lead. If it was one incident, I wouldn't worry, it doesn't sound like aggression, but dominance, in which case if he does it, just move him away from the dog until he's calm again. Dominance and aggression aren't the same thing, so if he just pinned the dog down, I wouldn't worry too much.

If he really IS aggressive, I wouldn't worry much about that either, it can be managed. Although socialisation can help, some Staffs just end up being dog-aggressive, but that doesn't mean they'll be aggressive to people. They're still the loving, loyal, affectionate breed we know them to be Smile

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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Guest on Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:22 pm

Same as Tara, really.

Try not to let it worry you because you'll tense up & he'll pick up on that. Try to act as though nothing has happened.

However, for a short while just let him play with dogs you both know well, and you know he's good with - build up the trust again. Once you are more comfortable again, you can try introducing him to other dogs. Always, though, ask the other owner's permission before you let your dog run up to a strange dog.

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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Kimb&MooMan on Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:36 pm

My Max is PA and DA and to be honest, he is muzzled out on walks because there are always people who's dogs are off the lead and well it would be disaster if max doesn't have a muzzle.

But needless to say owning an aggressive dog isn't really bad, Me and Max still enjoy our walks, going to the forests, beach, its all the same still Smile, he's an absolute soppy loveable dog at home, my pooch is happy which makes me extremely happy Smile

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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by julespercules on Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:01 pm

reading these posts always scares me as my tash is a loving 10 month old and I would be devastated if she suddenly turned Sad

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Re: Sudden aggressive behaviour - dog 18 months

Post by Guest on Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:36 pm

I had a bit of a wobble with ebony since her behavior changed too; it was the main reason I joined actually (and all the great advice). she was always very calm and submissive round dogs and that changed as she got older - just randomly one day she lunged for another dog! I thought she was aggressive ect but in all honestly she just LOVES to play rough. I know this may be different in your case but ebony can be a bit nippy sometimes and jumps and chases and is very persistent player - literally never gets tired and will keep going and going; I thought she was aggressive but it just looks like she doesn't realize how big and strong she is! I wouldn't ever let her off round other dogs and I do put her back on the lead when I see other dogs but that's (she will literally bolt through anything to play despite me calling her back and her recall is amazing when she's not around other dogs) incase the other dog doesn't like her overly hyper and crazy behavior, or that the owner is scared by how she plays! I usually let her play with bigger dogs as they can take her rough play though. I'm very sure ebony would never bite but I'd never trust her around a dog, not because of her, but because of how quickly things escalate and she does go completely deaf around other dogs too! I just think keeping your dog on lead, even if you can trust them saves a lot of hassle and bother from people whether your dog is dog aggressive, a rough player or a super gentle dog. People will always have problems when their off lead because of the breed. What you're going through does just seem like a phase, with training and socialization with dogs he knows I'm sure he'll over come whatever phase he's going through Smile it sounds like he's just been shook up at bit; apparently it takes 26 days or something like that for a dog to fully calm down from a meeting with another dog; how true that is I don't know but if that's the case just let him settle then introduce him to his friend again.

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