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Hi all,

It's been quite awhile since I last posted, but I do read the forums often. For those who don't remember us, I own a purebred white German Shepherd named Mgelika. He made a year on January 6 and has topped out at just over 100 pounds. Mgelika is a very docile, quiet, almost goofy dog. He has never shown the least bit of aggression toward anyone - except another male dog that instigated a fight. Luckily I was able to separate them and there's been no other incident.

Until....

Last night I had gone to bed and was dead asleep when my twenty one year old daughter called my cell phone and woke me. She was hysterically crying and asking me to come get Mgelika. She lives with us and was sitting on the couch beside him. She said he'd been dead asleep and in such a deep sleep that he was snoring loudly. Then he woke, turned his head very slowly toward her (almost like he was afraid to look and see who was over there sitting beside him) and then began snarling ferociously at her. She said she spoke to him, tried to reassure him, etc and he just leaned forward toward her and snarled even worse. She said his eyes were crazy like a rabid dog and that he would not even respond to her calling his name. She put a pillow in front of her in case he lunged to attack and started calling for me. Unfortunately I was asleep and didn't hear her. She said she then tried to ease off of the couch to just get away from him and every time she moved he growled furiously, showing every tooth. She finally just called my cell and I came out.

When I got to the living room, he was laying on the couch with his eyes open. I put my hand on the back of his neck and told him to come. He got down immediately and walked very obligingly to the bathroom. I did not witness any aggression, nor did I hear him even growl.

She is so rattled by it that she refuses to be alone with him. I later pulled him back from the bathroom and had him jump on the couch beside her. He offered nothing but puppy kisses. No aggression. To be safe though, I took him to my room to sleep.

Today he's lounged around all day and still has offered no aggression toward anyone.

He's up to date on his shots, current on Heartworm Preventative, is exercised frequently and showing no signs at all of being sick or in pain.

Is it possible he was dreaming even with his eyes open? Have any of you experienced something similar?

All answers are appreciated because I am truly baffled. He's such a sweet, goofy dork of a dog. I just can't even fathom him snarling, much less at one of us.

Thank you,
Kris
 

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I can only say what I have expierenced, when I woke up my old dog of 13 years from a deep sleep it took her some time to wake up, she snarled at me with all her teeth showing I gave her some time to come around and then there were kisses, but as I say my dog was old and a very deep sleeper, maybe that can happen if a young dog is in a deep sleep, just give the dog some time to come around from a nap and as you said after that there were kisses, hope that helps ...
 

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This is unlikely, but is she sure he didn't have a seizure? Sometimes after a seizure a dog may show aggression because they dont know who you are, or who they are.
 

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This is unlikely, but is she sure he didn't have a seizure? Sometimes after a seizure a dog may show aggression because they dont know who you are, or who they are.
I was just thinking that. When Ruger had his first seizure, after we'd had him for almost 3 years, he came after me.
I'm not sure about seizure types, but it's usually hard to ignore or not notice a seizure if you're right next to the dog. They can be pretty disturbing to see.
 

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Like others, I would bring the dog to the vet. I usually say NILF, more training/excersize, but I really think this is a health issue. I hope this is a one time occurance for you and Mgelika.
I think we have all seen the video of the dog waking suddenly and ran himself into a wall. Could this be similiar?
 

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It reminds me of an episode on NPR where they discussed people who do stuff similiar to sleep walking only it gets very involved. People can sleep with their eyes open. I'd guess dogs could too.
 

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When was the last time he was vaccinated? I agree, it sounds neurological and possibly he had a seizure. If he is laying around today, that is another sign that he may have had one...usually dogs are lethargic afterwards. I'd start a journal and record his diet, water intake and anything else(chemical exposure, head trauma, etc) that he may have experienced recently.
 

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It doesn't have to be neurological. He might just have been scared to wake up beside somebody and simply got scared and snarled at her. Maybe he could not see who it is, maybe she smelled different. It was in the middle of the night.

How long does she live with you guys now? If he was in deep sleep, just woke up because of a noise she made, maybe didn't recognize her at first... that might very well explain why he snarled.
 

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She said he'd been dead asleep and in such a deep sleep that he was snoring loudly. Then he woke, turned his head very slowly toward her (almost like he was afraid to look and see who was over there sitting beside him) and then began snarling ferociously at her. She said she spoke to him, tried to reassure him, etc and he just leaned forward toward her and snarled even worse. She said his eyes were crazy like a rabid dog and that he would not even respond to her calling his name. She put a pillow in front of her in case he lunged to attack and started calling for me. Unfortunately I was asleep and didn't hear her. She said she then tried to ease off of the couch to just get away from him and every time she moved he growled furiously, showing every tooth. She finally just called my cell and I came out.
I don't know...sounds a bit more than a startle response, especially if it lasted that long. I'd still keep tabs on the behaviors, etc for awhile.
 

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And keep a log of the incidents. It seems more than a startled dog to me also. I don't think a startled dog would have leaned forward and continued to snarl when the person they know spoke to them. At that point, he should have responded.
 

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True, the thing is, how long did it exactly going on and what does she perceive as ferocious.

I would most definitely not take it lightly though.
 

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i agree it sounds like a medical issue. if it were my dog i would have a thorough health panel done to include sight and hearing testing.
 

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My thought reading through it was siezure as well. I have never heard of a dog siezing snoring though. However, she seemed to think he was in a very deep sleep. Could have been a siezure. And when they wake up, they are scared, and are likely to be aggressive. By the time you got out there, he may have been back to himself enough.

NILIF will not do anything for a dog with siezure episodes, if that is the problem. But there is no way to know I think until it happens again. Hard to say. I would get him checked out though. Is there any test they can do that will tell them if a dog has had a siezure? I really do not think so.
 

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NILF would do something if this was a behavioural issue. I do not understand why you think someone would believe a training regimine would affect a health issue? My point was that i do not believe this is a behaviour problem.
 

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Unfortunately, my own experience with this sort of behavior was that it happened with my male GSD almost exactly a week before he had his first seizure (that we knew of any way). He was asleep in the hall, one of the family members opened a bedroom door and he jumped up and became very aggressive. When he had his first seizure, it happened almost exactly the same except when someone stepped into the hallway late at night while he was sleeping, he started seizuring. After that first seizure he became very aggressive and acted like a wild animal trapped in the house. After that he never became aggressive after a seizure but he always seizured when he was waking up. After he had the first grand mal, I had wondered if the aggressive incident a week before was some sort of seizure.
 

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In the past 10 years, we have had 2 rescue dogs with seizure disorders.
Most seizures that result in a dog becoming very aggressive (like described) would not appear is if the dog were in a deep sleep. All of the seizures that our dogs had were grand mal seizures. There is no way they appeared to be in a sleep. Both dogs became very rigid and tight, appeared to be having a difficult time breathing, foaming from the mouth and in about 99% of the cases urinated and or deficated during the seizure.
I have witnessed between 50 and 75 seizures from these 2 dogs. In all of those instances, only once did a dog come out of the seizure and become aggressive. He did not look at me or growl like he didn't know me. He came out of the seizure and charged me, snapping and attempting to bite me. I'm not aware of any medical testing for previous seizures. It is done based on witnessed accounts of the actions of the dog and the duration.
After his first seizure, Ruger had several more seizures, but never once became aggressive/violent.
Usually, after the seizure has past, the dogs would lay there panting and very disoriented, almost frozen in place. It usually took 2-3 minutes of this post dictal state before they would stand. They were very confused for quite a period of time afterwards, sometimes up to an hour. Both our dogs were very thirsty and drank a lot of water afterwards.
They also walked around the entire house, as if they had no idea where they were or like coming home for the first time.

Sorry to ramble, but I just wanted to share my experiences and to point out that, IMO, this was not a seizure.

Feel free to PM me if you have more questions or if they continue.
 

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Another Possibility

My daughter is also 21. She is very busy and enters the house like a SWAT raid.

My guy doesn't know what to make of her and she generally makes him a bit nervous.

Is it possible that she was on a cell phone at the time? If your dog heard the other "strange" voice coming over the speaker he may have mistaken that for voices outside the house. That will put a GSD on guard.

Never had an experience with seizures so I'm not trying to minimize that possibility.
 

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This is unlikely, but is she sure he didn't have a seizure? Sometimes after a seizure a dog may show aggression because they dont know who you are, or who they are.
This was the first thing that popped into my mind too!!!

I've also had dogs wake up and act weird, just like a human might after an upsetting dream. Bruiser wakes up howling every few months ... and the howling continues for a minute or two after he's awake ... he acts like I'm not even there. Tasha woke up a few times during her lifetime screeching like a banshee ... it used to scare me to death when she did it.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thank you all for your replies!

Here's some answers to some of your questions (hope I remember them all). ;)

He was last vaccinated over 5 months ago. He finished out all of his boosters and was rabies inoculated on the same day.

I have never noticed him being rigid, or not knowing where he is, or foaming at the mouth either.

My 21 year old has been back home for 3 months now. He knows her very well.

I'm not sure if she was on a cell phone. She may have been. When she gets up, I'll be sure to ask her. :)

As for recent chemical exposure, it's been over 3 months since I used pesticide in the back yard or in the house.

We practice NILF daily.

The time period this happened was roughly 10:45 pm - and happened over a span of 2 minutes maximum.

Our normal routine is: I wake up at 6 because my husband works the night shift and gets home around 6. He goes to bed and I get up. I take Mgelika to the back yard (privacy fencing) and put him out. Most days I go out about an hour later and feed, water, play with him. Around 9 am I take him for a leashed walk around the neighborhood. We practice commands during the walk such as leave it, sit, down, stay, "ignore" - which is something I'm trying to teach concerning the tiny dogs that are chained out near the road and bark furiously, etc. We get home and he is allowed to come in for a couple of hours. He's put back in the back yard around noon and that's where he stays until roughly 6 pm. I work in the afternoons and he's a bit much for my 21 year old to handle, so I just put him out. He comes back in at 6 and has free roam of the house until 6 am.

Now about the seizures... Are you all saying it's possible he has epilepsy? To be really honest, I have never heard of a dog having seizures. I'm sure it happens, but I haven't even ever thought about it. I don't even know what to look for! Do you have any recommended sites I should read? I could go Google it, and I will, but if you have a site that you prefer, I would love to read it too!

Thank you for all your advice. I'm not taking this lightly... I'm quite worried.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Oh shoot! I forgot one more thing. Yesterday I discovered our neighbor's dog is in heat. Would smelling her make him aggressive? I mean, I think if I were a guy and ... well...err.. you get the point. /blush
 
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