Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner
1 - 1 of 1 Posts

Super Moderator
3,702 Posts
It seems like you've ruled out obvious illness or pain at the vet, but did Missy get full bloodwork and a thyroid panel done? Thyroid issues absolutely cause behavior changes, including aggression, and checking bloodwork will give you a better idea of whether there's something internal going on that isn't immediately obvious. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) is absolutely worth bringing up to your vet as well, given her overall behavior change you're describing.

If you've completely ruled out medical causes, it's time to bring in a behaviorist, in my opinion. You can ask your vet if there's any veterinary behaviorists locally (fully trained vets who've further specialized in dog behavior and behavioral medicine), or you could look for a regular behaviorist - they're not medically trained, but they focus on behavior issues and behavior modification programs far more than your average trainer. ccpdt.org or iaabc.com are good places to start, as both have a 'find a behaviorist near you' function and hold the people they certify as behaviorists to a minimum standard of knowledge and hands-on experience.

A behaviorist will ask you a lot of questions about the dogs, their interactions, and their history, and also directly observe your dogs to see if there's anything you might have missed. They'll be able to give you a better picture of what's likely going on and what the options are for next steps, including a realistic idea of whether this is likely to happen again and a behavior modification plan for improving their relationship if they feel it's safe to do so. I know many are doing this remotely with video call programs right now due to covid, so you may not be stuck with people in your immediate area.

I'm reluctant to give direct advice on how to work with this myself, because I'm not a professional and wouldn't really know what I'd even need to ask about with that in-depth interview about your dogs, nor do I have the ability to observe them directly. I don't want to tell you to do anything that might put Rocky in danger due to my inexperience or me misunderstanding or making assumptions that turn out to be wrong.

I can give you some advice about management. When it comes to separating two dogs due to a serious issue like aggression, the general advice is to always have two barriers between them, with at least one being a solid visual barrier like a closed door if possible. Other barriers could be crates, pens, baby gates, or even a leash IF someone's staying with the tethered dog to avoid dangerous entanglement scenarios. This way if one barrier fails, you have a backup. If you've got kids in the house or are just worried someone won't be paying enough attention or forget, you can try installing child locks on the doors you use most frequently as a reminder that when the locks are engaged, there's a dog on the other side.

Pick up all toys and chews and only bring them out to actively play with a dog or let them actively chew on something, and feed them both in an enclosed space like a crate or pen. This will reduce the risk of there being a resource guarding related fight if they do get out together. I have no idea if resource guarding was involved in the attack you describe, but it's generally a good idea to reduce common causes of dog-dog conflict if you don't know the cause of an altercation.

You may also want to consider muzzle training Missy for situations where it'd be harder to keep her and Rocky separate, or if she might be around strange small dogs (like the vet's office). It's not safe for dogs to wear any muzzle constantly, but if you use a basket-style muzzle that allows her to open her mouth and drink water, you'd have another tool to help keep everyone safe in tricky situations. The Muzzle Up! Project (The Muzzle Up! Project | Muzzle advocacy, Education, and Training) has really excellent resources on how to choose and fit a muzzle to your dog, and how to train your dog to be happy and comfortable wearing a muzzle.

Good luck, and I'm sorry you're dealing with this.
1 - 1 of 1 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.