Environment change = suddenly aggressive dog?

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by indoscot, Jul 12, 2010.

  1. indoscot

    indoscot New Member

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    Hi, I'm new to this forum so I hope my posting is in the correct area.

    I have a problem with a dog that has gone through some recent environemntal changes, and as a result, has become aggressive towards other dogs and cats (although it was never the case before).

    I have a 3 yr old male bulldog-mix (Mickey) and a 5-month old male husky (Shadow).

    For the past 2.5 years, Mickey and I lived with my parents. Mickey would go to doggie daycare twice a week, and loved seeing his daycare buddies. But just a month ago, I moved to a new home and got Shadow within the same week of moving. Mickey and Shadow are best buds. They love each other and are inseparable. Because the 2 dogs now have each other while I am gone to work, Mickey has not attended doggie daycare since Shadow was adopted.

    I suspect all the sudden changes have caused stress on Mickey.

    The problem is that Mickey - who used to be the friendliest dog - has now become embarrassingly aggressive towards other pets. I cannot walk both dogs at the same time, because Mickey will start lunging, growling, yapping, screaming, shaking, etc. at the mere sight of another animal. Mickey makes noises that I never knew a dog could make. It scares me and everyone within earshot! This makes Shadow upset, and he begins to dance around and howl. It's quite a spectacle to see. And I always have to cut the walk short and run home to calm them down.

    Also, Mickey has developed the bizarre habit of sneaking into the basement and relieveing himself. He refuses to use the backyard (even though he was 100% housetrained when we lived with my parents). If I block off the basement, he will hold his bladder for over a day and then eventually "give up" and go outside. But most of the time it still requires me pushing him out the door. It's almost as if he's disgusted by the yard. He refuses to walk on the grass.

    I suspect that Mickey's behaviour is caused by a combination of:

    - only seeing my parents once a week instead of every day
    - new home, new neighbourhood, new yard, new smells
    - thinking he's in charge of 'protecting' Shadow
    - no longer being at doggie daycare

    Did anyone go though the same thing after moving houses or introducing a new dog to the family?

    How do I correct Mickey's sudden aggressiveness?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    I would suspect that he has some stress from the change and that might be what's causing the inappropriate peeing. (I'd go back to square one with that...just like you train a puppy)

    As far as the dog reactivity/aggression when on walks, this is hard to say. It is quite common for male dogs especially and some breeds in particular to become this way at some point when they reach maturity. (which in his case may be now) A lot of dogs that were fine for a long time become reactive at around 18 months or later. It's hard to prove one way or the other if the stress of moving is the culprit or just a coincidence with timing. He may well have become this way anyhow. The important thing is to teach him to deal with other dogs better when you're out on walks. It may or may not be actual aggressiveness. He may be hyper stimulated and sometimes being on a leash adds to the frustration. I recommend you do some desensatizing with him. If you get the book, Click To Calm and/or Control Unleashed, these books will walk you through some very effective and systematic techniques for improving this situation.

    I had a very dog reactive male Doberman. He loved every dog he met until he was about 18 months old and that lunging and snarling stuff started, seemingly, out of the blue. I used the techniques described in Click To Calm and they helped a lot. It's a long process and takes lots of practice, but this can be helped. Good luck.
     
  3. Maura

    Maura New Member

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    Walk one dog at a time, at least for now. Use a loose leash rather than a tight one.

    Continue to keep Micky out of the basement. He may not want to use the back yard because it's not "his" backyard (some dogs are like this), but once he's freshened the yard with his own scent he'll feel better about it.

    Click to Calm is a good book.
     

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