QUESTION: Recently, my dog has gotten kicked out of daycare for biting a new dog to daycare on the ear and he just hasn't been getting along with other dogs when I am walking him on a leash. For example, he had a dog run up to him today and he gave him a low growl with his hair standing up on his back. I pulled him away because I was afraid he might bite this dog also. It was a neigborhood dog that likes to try to hump him when they meet generally. In another instance recently, he really made a lot of noise, mean barking and growling after he vomited when I was walking him last week and another dog smelled his vomit. He can be playing fine with a neigbhorhood dog nextdoor but in an instance they are fighting. Any suggestions? Thanks, Lisa
Inter-dog aggression can be very challenging to manage but would include significant behavioral modification techniques and medication. Behavioral medicine is very complex and is best left in the hands of veterinarians that specialize in this field. There are drugs such as Prozac, Celexa, etc. in the class of drugs know as SSRIs that are used in these situations. Also. there is a very specific behavioral modification protocol that must be followed while the dog is on the medication. This protocol includes de-sensitization and positive reinforcement techniques in controlled settings with other dogs. First thing I would do is find a Behavioral specialist in your area. In the meantime I would not send your dog to daycare and I would avoid any contact with other dogs until you have a treatment plan. If you have to walk your dog you may wish to consider purchasing a Gentle Leader which is a head halter that provides a different level of control over your dog than a flat neck collar. Some of the problem may also be related to how you react to your dog in these situations. He may be reading body language from you that you are not even aware you are exhibiting! Hope that helps. Happy New Year! Dr. G.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: I know that there are different types of gentle leaders. Are you suggesting that I buy one that goes over his nose? Thank you for you suggestions. I have called a behavioral specialist to set up an initial evaluation, so we were thinking on the same lines. I had already taken my dog to his vet this week and he suggested this. Would any medical conditions make a behavioral change like this likely? Thanks, Lisa
Yes, it goes over the muzzle. I like the Gentle Leader made by Premier Products.Great that you already made an appointment with a vet that specializes in behavioral issues. Certainly that is the standard of care these days. No specific medical condition comes to mind but anytime a dog is not feeling well or experiencing pain could be reasons for them to exhibit irritable behavior. Hope the consult leads to a solution to your problem! Dr. G.