Serious unprovoked aggression
I'm posting this for the benefit of anyone else who may encounter similar problems.
I'll give you a short rundown of the problems we've had /having with our 6 year old unneutered male GSD (Jake)
We had him from a rescue centre when he was just 5 years old. He was being rehomed because his original owner (the mother of a volunteer at the centre) had moved from a Pub to a flat, and couldn't exercise him much and didn't think it was fair on him.
That's the story we were told, whether that was the whole truth we couldn't be sure. The son of the owner certainly seemed very genuine and didn't hide anything from us, as far as we are aware. He even admitted they exercised him by shining a laser light on the floor for he to chase after GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!
As a result he has major OCD with lights and shadows.
We took Jake home, and couldn't believe our luck. He was absolutely wonderful. He was well trained, very friendly, playful, great with people and had clearly been well looked after and not mistreated in any way. The only problem we had was he pulled like crazy on the leash - and with training that was soon sorted. Everything was great.
Then one evening, two weeks after we rehomed him , suddenly from nowhere, seriously nowhere, he attacked our 12 year old granddaughter, and I do mean attacked.
At first, without question we decided we had to have him put to sleep. But once we'd all calmed down, the anger and upset was replaced with a need to understand how such a wonderful dog could do such a thing, and none of us (including our granddaughter) really wanted him pts, and we all tried to understand why...... there must be a reason - we must have done something wrong - or missed something ---But What? .
We decided to do nothing in haste, just make sure he was either muzzled or kept away from people.
For the next few days, Jake was a little subdued, and we went over and over the incident to see were we could have possibly gone wrong................ Had we overwhelmed him with new people, new food , new house, and an unfortunate accident he had during the first week ...so may questions!!! But no answers to really explain why he would attack without any warning at all.
But then Jake exhibited this really bizarre behaviour, as though he was intensely terrified of some invisible entity.
Following this episode the dog forum I was a member of - positively.com - advised that he needed a vet as they thought it could be epilepsy.
Although unsure, without a CT scan or an MRI (which we just could not afford) , the vet prescribed phenobarbital to see if would help. She also advised seeing a behaviourist. Now, call me arrogant if you like, but I knew it wasn't a behaviour problem, we'd owned enough dogs over the years to know this was something different.
The medication appeared to work, and he returned to his usual self. Don't get me wrong he still had what I can only describe as absences, but no really bizarre behaviour or aggression.
He was gradually reintroduced to people he would see regularly (not children)
Everything was going well until our usual vet emigrated, and the new one decided "weird and aggressive" behaviour was not epilepsy and decided to wean him off his medication.
Major mistake !!! He then attacked our adult daughter as she played with him. The original medication has now been reinstated, and he is not allowed near anyone, apart from me and the OH, even though there have been no aggressive incidents since - he has growled but nothing more.
I'm not going to pretend I'm never nervous of him, and deep down I think perhaps we should have had him pts. but my OH won't even consider it.. But I am also pretty good at spotting when things are not quite right with him, and luckily on these occasions he keeps away from us on his own accord. These ocassion are such a tiny, tiny part of him, and he is so lovely it's easy to forget he's got a problem at all.
We have now been in touch with Dr. Jean Dodds (a specialist in thyroid disorders) and we are going to send blood samples to her for analysis, incase he also has an underlying thyroid problem.
I have now also temporarily stopped using cleaning products and we are very careful with his diet, incase he is allergic to anything. It has only just occured to us (thick or what?) that this has only happened since we've had him, it could be something we use that the previous owner didn't.
I'm glad we decided to do nothing in haste, because Jake is such a wonderful dog - just a wonderful dog with a problem, that I hope we can solve.
PS: I will also post in the sticky thread "Medical Reasons for Aggression" section of the forum.