Fear Aggression at Night? (Long) - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 11:34 AM Thread Starter
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Fear Aggression at Night? (Long)

It has been several months since I posted and things with Faelan have been going great for the most part, however we have recently had one glaringly huge issue. Faelan is completely friendly and approachable during the day, running around with the kids, greeting strangers by licking and expecting pets and being all around friendly and semi-well behaved (for a teenager I guess). However at night, he turns into a different dog. There are two behaviors that are really concerning me. The first one happened a few weeks ago when we had a couple come to the door after dark to bring us Christmas cookies. Faelan was at the door with me. At first I thought he was just being a pain when it took him a minute to quit barking (both of my dogs bark whenever they hear a knock at the door) but then when one of the couple handed me the plate through the screen door he lunged toward them . Out of instinct I threw my leg out and pinned him between my leg and the doorway (it was a gut reaction, I didn't even realize I did it until afterward) and my husband came and got him and put him outside until they left. The second one has happened multiple times now. Faelan sleeps in his bed on the floor in our room or on the living room floor when I have fallen asleep on the couch but will wake up and bark or growl at anyone walking around the house at night including the kids until they are a foot or two away from him. The only person he doesn't do this to is me. None of our children show any fear of him, they always continue walking his way and go right by him but it is so strange because he never does any of this during the day time. It seems like he is fearful at night for some reason but I am not sure why or what I can do to help it. Any advice?
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 11:41 AM
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Normal to be more edgy at night. We train Thursday nights and Saturday days... All the dogs more readily work in aggression at night, and younger dogs tend to struggle to work at night compared to their day performance. When he shows the slightest tension at night just tell him in a *calm* manner to knock it off. If you get tense or angry/fearful you will validate his fear. You must act like he's being ridiculous for being scared and over time that should put him more at ease

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 11:48 AM Thread Starter
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So this is kind of normal then? Maybe I am seeing it as more of an issue than it is?
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 11:58 AM
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How is his eyesight? Could he be having a harder time seeing things at night? I don't know.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by LifeofRiley View Post
How is his eyesight? Could he be having a harder time seeing things at night? I don't know.
That was my first thought. I agree that it is normal for dogs to be a bit edgier at night (well, I think it's normal for people to be too!), but since there's such an extreme difference between his day and night personalities, I would recommend a thorough vet check, possibly even with a specialist like an opthamalogist or a veterinary behaviorist (the latter because they're skilled at rooting out medical causes for behaviors, and could also give you some training pointers should it not have a physical cause). I especially emphasize this because you say it is a sudden change. This really screams "vet checkup needed!" to me.

Otherwise, I agree that handling this just like any other reactivity is a good idea--if the doorbell rings at night, remove him from the situation. Does it help if your kids talk to him when he growls at them? Again, it may be that he's not recognizing them and simply having them speak in a familiar voice reassures him that they're his family--we used to have to do that with our Basset Hound at night, because she'd think we were intruders due to poor eyesight and her baying would wake up the whole house if you wanted to get a glass of water in the middle of the night!

Since he is a teenager, he could also just be feeling more protective (or uncertain) at night as he works out his role in the family. In that case, I definitely agree with the gentle but firm command to calm down. Teaching him a "relax" type command ("go to your bed" is the one I use, but since he's already on his bed you will need to find another I guess) might help him realize that you have things under control, people are allowed to walk around at night, and he doesn't need to be any more watchful at night than during the day.

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Last edited by RowdyDogs; 01-07-2013 at 01:08 PM.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-08-2013, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the responses. His eyesight doesn't seem to be bad, but it is something I will have checked out. We have removed him from being at the door at all since the incident, since we don't want a repeat and the kids tend to just walk by him and ignore him instead of saying anything, but I will have them start. He is due for a vet check up at the end of this month, so I'll be talking to the vet about it then.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-08-2013, 10:58 AM
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Look up Seratonin and dog aggression. Dogs, with aggressive tendencies, seem to be worse at night. Maybe some dogs that are not aggressive during the day may be more likely to be edgy at night?

And, I would start by having his eyes checked as well. Was the area well lit?

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-08-2013, 01:01 PM Thread Starter
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I looked up the Serotonin and dog aggression, interesting stuff. The areas are not well lit at all, in fact, they are completely dark, except for the time at the door when it was light inside my house but dark outside.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-19-2014, 11:31 AM
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mine does the same exact thing but he will lay on me and growl at me and my wife. he would come and lay with me in the bed and start whinning and groaning so I always laughed and showed him affection.(its kinda our thing he jumps on the bed when I go to lay down we have a cuddle moment then hes on with his nightly guarding of the house.) But it slowly turned to growling. Hes growling everynight and sometimes in the morning now at either my wife or I. its always low tone ears drop and use to show his teeth but iv managed to get him to stop but I really don't want him growling at all. He always does it real quite and low and if you continue to invade his space he tends to up it louder and louder. Hes fine during the day and constantly wants to play and be all over you. Usually when she starts petting him while he is laying on me but iv had him growl at me while his climbing up by me its so odd. I really don't think he knows why is growling. He does it or when you put your face down by him in the morning. How can I stop this behavior? he's 1.5 yrs old non nuetered
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-19-2014, 12:05 PM
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you need to reclaim YOUR space -- as in are you kidding me dog --

there was one Irish Setter owned by a neighbour when we were still living in downtown Toronto. Started off with a "game" when it was funny to see this little toot of a dog playing at protecting the lady . Possession . Came to the point where the man could not even enter the bedroom. Once again at first indulged as being humorous until the dog got serious , took a leg bite and absolutely shredded the mattress .



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