Aggression AFTER Eating - Toward my other dog
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Thread: Aggression AFTER Eating - Toward my other dog

  1. #1
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    Aggression AFTER Eating - Toward my other dog

    I have a 2 1/2 year old mix breed 45 lbs (hound, lab, etc...). Rescued him when he was 3 months old. In the fall of 2017 (around 1 year old) he started getting very aggressive towards and attacking my other dog after meal time in a completely separate room with no food around (25 lb spaniel/lab mix). We trained with a behaviorist for 2 months and then got recommended to a dog doctor who confirmed he has anxiety and put him on meds to control the issue (this was last February 2018).

    Over the summer months of 2018 he got aggressive a couple more times and we upped his dosage. 3 Weeks ago he started getting aggressive again (we upped his dosage 10 mgs to 40 mg's total).

    We feed him his food as well as my other dog...when he finishes his food he's hesitant to leave his bowl for a couple of minutes. He is then very much on edge and if he sees my other dog he stalks her if she moves. The other day he finished eating, came into our living room (our other dog was on the couch). He walked by her and then lunged at her and very aggressively attacked her. Thankfully neither drew blood. This evening, my wife and I were sitting at the dining room table and he was near us. Our other dog came into the room (15 minutes after meal time), he watched her intently and then lunged at her...my wife tried to grab his collar and then he focused his attack on my wife, until I gave him a quick kick in the side, then he stopped, sat and chattered his teeth. I told him to go in his crate (which he doesn't use hardly ever anymore).

    Everything I find online is about aggression with food while the dog is eating (I can pet him while he eats and he doesn't growl). I can't find anything about Post eating aggression and my wife and I are near our breaking point. HE's a sweet loving dog with us and also cuddles with our other dog non stop, especially in the winter months. They also play with toys together every single day with no issues...I don't know what's triggering him and while we've been told muzzle training is an option, he's already a really nervous guy, I feel like a muzzle (even if trained to use it) is going to increase his anxiety levels.

    Again, I've spent a few thousand dollars with trainers and also a dog behaviorist....Has anyone else dealt with this type of random post meal aggression?

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  3. #2
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    Re: Aggression AFTER Eating - Toward my other dog

    You need to separate the two dogs. Permanently. That is the solution.

    It seems that the one mix dog has dog aggression. Usually this behavior is genetic. It is probably not as much about meal time as it is about the other dog appearing to be relaxed/less attentive after meal time so an easier target.

    Separate the dogs. Handle them separately. One dog crated, other dog out of the crate. One dog walked at a time. One dog trained at a time.

    I am sure you are thinking "but the aggression does not happen all the time." No. It does not. It will happen more frequently (you are seeing this now) and it will escalate and the other dog will be the loser or BOTH will be the losers as they both get hurt.

    Personally I would be tempted to euthanize the dog aggressive dog.

    That said, you have a few options. The first is to separate the dogs. All. The. Time. The other is to find a trainer who deals with dog aggressive behavior and see if you can train enough to at least have peace in the house when you are present as long as your recognize that any stressful situation can trigger aggression as the behavior is hard wired. Separate the dogs when you are not present is still the only option and all the time is still the safest option.

  4. #3
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    Re: Aggression AFTER Eating - Toward my other dog

    thank you for your thoughts. I realize it might very well be genetic. I just find it very weird that it's been months since any sort of fight. Additionally both dogs will lay on the couch together almost every day, snuggled right up together. They play with toys together almost every day. They even sleep in the same dog bed some nights completely on their free will as they both have several beds in the house to use.

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  6. #4
    Senior Member gingerkid's Avatar
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    Re: Aggression AFTER Eating - Toward my other dog

    First, I would completely separate your dogs at meal times and for an extended period afterwards, using physical barriers like a crate, closed doors, exercise pens. I would keep them physically separated after meal times for at least half an hour.

    Second, anxiety medications are not a magical sure for anxiety. While they are definitely beneficial for a lot of dogs, training and/or lifestyle changes are also required to successfully rehabilitate problem anxiety. In addition, some medications can make anxiety/fear-related aggression worse in some dogs. They can lower inhibition, making the dog more able to act in scary situations, which means if the dog's go-to action is biting, then that's what happens.

    This doesn't mean medications can't be part of your dog's treatment plan, but you may need to try different types and doses before you find something else that works. If you can, seek out a board-certified veterinary behaviourist who is a veterinarian trained specifically to deal with difficult behaviour problems and will be very familiar with all of the different types of medications and treatment protocols for dealing with difficult behaviour. (If that's what you meant by "dog doctor" then I would go back to them and explain what is happening).

    Lastly, it is okay to consider all the options, and how your dog's behaviour is affecting everyone else in the home. I know for some people euthanasia or rehoming are plat out not options, and that is okay. But it's also okay to think about whether it is fair to your spaniel mix to live in fear of being randomly attacked, or for you and your wife to live constantly on edge waiting for the next attack.
    Snowball CGN NTD, American Eskimo Dog - Est 2004
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    Re: Aggression AFTER Eating - Toward my other dog

    OMG. This is a huge liability in your home! It began by not introducing the dogs properly (but that's another issue completely). The behavior you've described is just ONE manifestation of what he is capable of doing. (Btw us: nobody should be petting any dog while it is eating. It's a completely unnatural behavior in the dog world). This is about pack structure. What's triggering him is insecurity not anger (and not like a person's sense of inferiority, where you can try and build up his confidence). But is about his confusion/doubt about who is in charge of the pack (meaning your household!). Virtually no dog actually "wants" a leadership position, but will exhibit dominant behavior in a void. In self-defense. So you begin by controlling every single aspect of (both of your) dogs' activities. If any behaviorist has already told you, understand which of your dogs is naturally dominant over the other, then honor it. Which means addressing the dog first (and has nothing to do with "favoritestism") Otherwise watch for cues between the dogs. Which will potty first, then followed by the second dog. Or going through doorways. The dogs must learn to coexist, and will, given explicit boundaries where they can both be secure (and safe) and not have to make any decisions for themselves. Never, EVER use physical punishment on a problematic dog, or you will en-flame situation so much, that it won't end well. Instead you must be calm, controlled, and consistent. Crate both dogs when unsupervised. This isn't cruel (you're not keeping them in prison!) but establishing the individual territory which each dog craves. As they would, in a natural setting. Do not feed them within sight of one another. You feed them in the crates (covered in the beginning) until you can begin to foster coexistence. Feed the more dominant dog first. Greet that dog first. It has nothing to do with which dog came into your household before the other. To some degree, you have to honor their instinctive position in the pack. To be leader (of the household) only YOU feed the dogs. You should lead them out (leashed) for a potty break after eating. Do not reward these dog with "cuddles, fun stuff, love, etc." UNTIL they have earned your respect! They need to exit the crate only on your command, and to return to it on your command, to sit for a leash, to sit before going through a doorway (after you), etc., etc.,. Don't allow them on the furniture, or bed (elevation, is a symbol of dominance over you). A muzzle (may protect visitors and your wife) but is only masking the issue. They need to be under your control at all times. If you need more information on pack structure, and gaining control over your dogs, visit Leerburg.com. If you don't gain control and their voluntary submission, this will not end well (at all) for the problematic dog.

  8. #6
    Senior Member Canyx's Avatar
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    Re: Aggression AFTER Eating - Toward my other dog

    Okay, I actually agree with a lot of what PacificSun wrote, specifically about managing your household and supervising dogs. But the stuff about "dominance" and not letting your dog up on high surfaces is totally false. Please continue to enjoy your relationship with your dogs however you see fit (cuddling, letting them on furniture, letting them run outside without you stepping out first, etc.) as long as these activities are not harmful to anyone.

    Here is a statement from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior on why this thinking is wrong: https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads...ad-10-3-14.pdf
    Another good article: https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/is...s_20416-1.html

    Again, I think it's important to be a leader by controlling resources, supervising, managing, training etc.
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  9. #7
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    Re: Aggression AFTER Eating - Toward my other dog

    To add to what gingerkid wrote, I would recommend immediately picking up both dogs' food bowls after they finish eating and having your 'problem dog' spend a longer period of time alone after eating. Put him in an area that is designated as his mealtime area. Do not let him out until he is totally calm. When you let him out, put a leash on him and walk him out. Assess how he seems to be behaving, especially with your other dog (safely out of reach). You did a great job noting body language (ex. male seems to be on edge, stalks other dog, hypersensitive to other dog's movements after mealtime). Do NOT let him have free roam until he is acting calm and 'normal' around your other dog. The safest option is permanent separation, as was suggested. But aggression is almost always situation specific. Which means if this has predictably happened ONLY around mealtimes and the two dogs actively seek each other out in positive ways all the other times, it is very unlikely (but not impossible) that your male would aggress 'out of the blue' towards your other dog while they're, say, cuddling. However, it is always a risk to leave an an anxious dog who has displayed aggression, alone with any other dog.

    Goes without saying, you should follow up with your vet and behaviorist to see how they'd judge the situation.
    Soro - 4.22.06 - retriever/X
    Braeburn - 1.29.17 - Dutch shepherd

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    Re: Aggression AFTER Eating - Toward my other dog

    Be clear. I am not a follower/believer in a well known television "celebrity" who is a proponent of out-dated dog training methods. I write this not in a desperate effort to win a debate. Only to clarify my message and to balance a discussion. All things are a matter of opinion and experience. No worries!

    In fact the "science of forced" dominance (such as the very short-lived example of alpha-rolling and worse) has been proven to be a failure; witness many unsuccessful backstories attributed to the "celebrity" which are never publicized. However many of those dogs can also not be returned to their original circumstances, because they can not be handled by unskilled people. There is no need to override my responses with replies, which I see is beginning to happen. Be assured I am not of the "yank and crank" method (damaging to a dog's esophagus). I understand the true merits of "marker" training. The secret is in establishing a positive relationship (or bonding) between the dog and the handler (known as teaching focus). Which is understanding how to trigger the positive motivation within a dog. Dogs want to please!

    Once a dog's trust has been damaged begins another situation. Once the dog becomes PHYSICALLY unpredictable tips the balance within a household. Once the dog bites, there is often no undoing. The owner has spent thousands of dollars on training. By his own admission he's kicked the dog out of the way. Medication and a multitude of trainers haven't helped. Not that we can either. The dog isn't even crate trained. And no, crates are not to be used as prisons. However to allow these particular dogs their unfettered interaction without supervised control, feeds their anxiety (sense of fear) and mental chaos. They've already attacked each other. In fact the dogs are due affection (not in the definition of emotional satisfaction which humans enjoy) but as a signal to them that they are accepted and acceptable within their group (a pack, unit, family or household) which is a structured familia relationship (and functions as a non-verbal form of communication). In this case the dog's trust needs to be reestablished. And is done by giving the dog a sense of safety and protection against threats. Actually this is any dog's deepest craving. Food and safety.

    When that's done you automatically become the leader of the unit. The dog's behavior must become predictable. Training is a form of establishing routine. Dogs survive by routine, patterns, expectation. Nothing in the original response was a matter of cruelty, abuse, harm or deprivation. But was about mental reconditioning and relationship. No parent rewards a child in the moment of misbehaving with additional gifts. A child must earn privilege by demonstrating respect and meeting expectations. Which doesn't mean love and attention is withheld, but is expressed in a specific manner. It's about offering a constructive method of learning that will serve the child as he/she continues to grow!

    I have seen the gamut of trainers and there has been an evolution of "technique" the goal has become one of bonding, relationship, communication, trust and achievement! That is indeed the "modern" method of training. Once a satisfying relationship is established, it can only increase the level of affection and reward for both! But in response to that particular owner, I guarantee you that if the dogs aren't settled into a safe cohabitation, one will have to be surrendered. Fun and games with out of control dogs can distract them before the proper work is accomplished. And a dog taking ownership of furniture (growling if moved) can be a signal of position, istead of responding to an invitation for sharing and comfort. Again, the real matter is about who is in control. Not for power, but safety.
    Last edited by Pacificsun; 02-28-2019 at 02:45 AM.

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