German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 20 of 40 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
938 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My GSD completely snapped today without any warning. I am so shocked right now I hardly know what to say. She was jogging off-leash with my fiance when she bolted towards a collie mix and without any vocalization or hesitation latched on to the other dog's neck and tried to kill it. This was utterly unprovoked and we have never seen her do anything like this. The other dog was being nervous-submissive but keeping her distance.

So far, I contacted the vet and offered to pay for the other dog's surgery (she is stable but will need to be stitched up). The owners were terrified and ran away before we could talk to them. Can't say I blame them. We are also scheduling a consult with the behaviorist at the vet clinic to find out what in the blazes is going on. For the time being we are keeping her kenneled because we have a cat and I no longer trust her.

We knew she was leash reactive (alarm barking at other dogs) but so far had always played well with other dogs off-leash and had never tried to do harm to anybody. The shelter said she was good with other dogs and people. We had her in a class to help with the reactivity and she was doing really well. She is a rescue and we've only had her 2.5 months. I'm wondering if she has just been sizing up the other dogs she has run into all this time, judging how easy it would be to attack one. I'm not saying that my dog is evil, but she may very well have anxiety issues and I know that one response to stress is to attempt to remove the stressor through aggression.

Has anyone had any experience with this type of behavior? I have never ever seen a dog behave this way. It's like she thought the other dog was just a rabbit or something. All of the dog fights I have ever seen started with an exchange, not one dog mercilessly going for the other's jugular right away. I am very worried that this behavior could expand to small children. Is this a possibility? We also have several free-ranging dogs in our neighborhood and I cannot prevent them from running up to her unannounced.

What do I do? Obviously she will be kept leashed at all times from now on, and I'm thinking a muzzle would be a good idea. I don't understand how she could be fine one minute and totally vicious the next. It scares me and I feel incapable of dealing with it. I feel really sick and sad right now. It feels like I'm being torn in two.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,892 Posts
Wow! That must have been a shock. I think the leash and muzzle are good ideas. Some people might tell you to put down the dog. Please talk with the vet & behaviorist before you make any decision like that.

Fiona has never taken off and attacked a dog or anything else, but she did go from sitting normally to barking like a nut for no reason.


Sent from Petguide.com Free App
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
21,368 Posts
Obviously no one can say what she was 'thinking'.

She needs to be leashed at ALL times when out in public.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but your fiance was taking a big risk, jogging with her offleash when she's had reactivity issues and you've only had her a couple months.

Reactivity can be controlled but most times never "cured"..as you just found out.

I'm glad the other dog wasn't severely hurt/killed.

Now as to your cat, no one can say ..She lives with the cat if she's been fine with the cat, I'd fathom a guess she won't snap on the cat, but I could be wrong..She does not live with the dog she nailed..big difference.

This is most likely not a vet issue but a management issue/behavioral..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,028 Posts
You've had her 2 1/2 months. You may just now be seeing her true personality.

Definitely condition her to a basket muzzle and leashed all times. If you haven't yet, have a vet check done with full blood work done. I would be surprised if the behaviorist doesn't request it, so that would get you ahead of the game.

There is no doubt that after something like that happening, you are nervous yourself handling her. You will need to work on yourself as well. She will pick up on that and it could elevate her aggression. That was the toughest lesson I had to learn in handling my troublemaker.

As far as walking her in the neighborhood and the loose dogs that are there, it may be you and DH team up and walk her or load her up and take her somewhere quiet to walk her - still on leash.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
5,627 Posts
Great posts so far. And Twyla said everything that I wanted to. You are just starting to get to know this dog. IME of years of fostering it takes at least 2-3 months before you start seeing who the dog really is and at least 6 months or more to really know the dog.

Definitely have a basket muzzle on her anytime she is outside. Always on leash.

Very glad to hear you are consulting with a behaviorist. It is not likely that she plotted and planned this as you suggested, dogs just don't work that way. Something triggered her even if no one saw it.

Some dogs are just dog aggressive and that's how it is. It rarely transfers to people or children and just because a dog is dog aggressive doesn't mean it will be aggressive to other animals. One of my most recent fosters would bite any dog that got within 5 feet of him but was wonderful with the cats. It's better to be safe than sorry until you know for sure though.

Take some time to really reflect on yourself. If you are going to work through these issues with your dog, you are going to need to be confident in yourself and your abilities.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
154 Posts
I am sorry you have had to go through this! Everybody here is giving great advice. I do hope you work things out and never have to go through something like this again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
637 Posts
all awesome advise . i live with a dog who loves to scrap with other dogs.. he is never off leash except in a fenced in yard and never off leash in public.. with a new dog management is key, and your dog should not have been off leash after having her for only 2 months and knowing she was leash reactive to other dogs.
she will probably be fine with your cat just separate them when you go to work. dog aggression does not transfer to humans. that is a myth.

dogs dont just snap- she has shown warning signs that you and your fiance have ignored..

the honeymoon period for some dogs is short, and for some longer.. your dogs honeymoon period is over and its time for NILIF and a good solid positive trainer to work on her leash reactivity and to teach her to ignore other dogs on leash in public

just be careful with the laws in your town/state when it comes to a dog attackng another dog. some towns/states will declare the dog dangerous and then you need a muzzle and liability insurance , some towns/states will want the dog euthanized.. it all depends on the state and town you live in.

is the other dog going to be ok?

also, the owners of the dog might sue you , so be prepared.

did the rescue tell you she had dog issues? if so, she should not have been off leash... heck no newly adopted dog should be offleash that soon
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
11,316 Posts
The posts so far have addressed the need for management.

I have a female aggressive female....she is fine in training and show situations where she has a job to do...if she was loose and another female was loose, I don't know if she would react without provocation...but I never let it happen....

She has "her own" cat...I got a new Bengal kitten in November who immediately decided that she was a mother substitute, to the point of attempting to nurse. The cat can sleep with her, take food out of her bowl....not sure she really loves the cat, but the only behavior she has exhibited is to get up and move if the cat annoys her. Most often I see them sleeping together fine. Dog aggression has nothing to do with cat aggression.

Lee
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,325 Posts
I've seen this behavior once with a female rescued GSD at our dog park. She was an adolescent and with some dogs she played fine and others she randomly attacked, including my own.

When my dog was younger she definitely had a strong prey drive, but it was the chase that interested her, but not attacking. We decided early on to never take a risk with her and almost always have her on leash (but often a 26' Flexi) or off leash when she's supervised with her GSD play group.

As far as cats, our dog loves our own cats, but not stranger cats.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
938 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
The humane society knew nothing about any of this. As far as everyone else knew up to that point, she was a sweet dog. I agree with the comments saying it was too early to know her personality.

I should mention the area she was in was a dog park aimed at jogging/walking, not just a random public place. We had taken her there before and other owners encouraged us to let her off-leash to socialize. It was my fault for giving her the benefit of the doubt instead of being cautious.

I am worried about the cat because she has growled and air-snapped at the cat before. Usually when lying down and the cat gets in her personal space. We are probably going to have to rehome her because one of the conditions of getting a dog was that it would not pose a danger to the cat (who has been friends with dogs in the past). I know you can keep them separated, but it only takes 15 seconds for an accident to happen and I don't want to live in fear of our pets getting mauled.

I am glad the general consensus is that this behavior won't translate to humans. That gives me hope.


Sent from Petguide.com Free App
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
542 Posts
Dog aggression has nothing to do with people aggression or cat aggression or to any other animals. It is its own thing.
If your dog is not human aggressive, this incident is not going to make her so.

I have had many dog aggressive GSDs in the past and none of them was human aggressive (unless when appropriate). My most naturally human aggressive GSD was the most dog friendly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,497 Posts
I'm so sorry you're going through this. I have a cat so I would be concerned if my new dog did those behaviours toward it. You have a tough decision to make in regards to rehoming but I think it's completely understandable if you do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
710 Posts
I have had dogs give occassional bites in scuffles, but never an attack like that. In my house that dog would be gone.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
32,553 Posts
dogs dont just snap- she has shown warning signs that you and your fiance have ignored.
I think "ignored" is a bit harsh, dogs give out signals that are often very subtle and easily missed, especially if you're not exactly sure what you're looking for. Even though I know my own dogs very well, I'm sure they're screaming things at me all the time that I'm just too dim to figure out, lol.

I am worried about the cat because she has growled and air-snapped at the cat before.
The growling would concern me more than the air snaps. My dogs and cats have been living peacefully together for years (although I do not leave them alone together when we're not around), and Keefer still likes to air snap at the cats. Watching the demeanor of my cats, it's very clear that they are not the slightest bit traumatized or intimidated when he does that, and will often lean over and try to lick his face or rub against his head a minute later.

It can take some training if she's not used to cats, but I think it can be done if you're diligent, and having a dog savvy cat helps a lot. Even after a year Cassidy was still very excited by the cats, but after a rough first few months (she was just over a year old and very rambunctious when I brought home Elvis as a kitten - he was about the size of her head, and then I got Emmy 9 months later), they got along very well. She'd still chase them if they ran, but Elvis would just sit there and look at her, and a few times he even put his paws up on her back and she just didn't know what to do about that - you can't chase a cat that won't run!

Elvis had his own room for the first 4 months, and they had supervised visits every day. I did tons of rewarding for good behavior, and making the presence of the kitty mean good things happening for the dog. Later, once Elvis was out and they were able to interact in the rest of the house, if she charged towards him I'd toss a handful of tiny treats at her. She'd stop immediately and sniff them out on the floor, and then Elvis would join in and the two of them would be side by side on the floor eating treats together. I also used him as a distraction, working on training eye contact with her while he tried to dive head first into the treat bag in my lap. :laugh:

Having a safe place for the cat to go is a good idea. I still have the cat room, with a baby gate over the doorway that the kitties can jump, with their food and water, litter box, and cat tree. The dogs could easily clear the gate, but they respect the barrier.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
637 Posts
i correct myself with that post i apologize.. true some folks dont see warning signs. ( i meant that they knew she was leash aggressive with other dogs and that is a warning sign .. sorry bout that)

if she growled at the cat then return her to the rescue you got her from.

find a rescue that has foster homes where the dog lives with other dogs and cats.. that is your best bet to find the right dog for your home. keep the 2 separated now until you return the dog to the rescue you got her from
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,451 Posts
You say the other dog was acting fearful/submissive, in no way does this *excuse* your dog but it could help explain her behavior.

I would keep her leashed from now on. I don't use muzzles in public but I know a lot of people will suggest it so that is an option (personally I feel if my dog is so aggressive it has to not only be leashed but actually muzzled, the dog is way over threshold and should just not be out in public and put in that state of mind). Plenty of dogs don't like other dogs and will go after them if given the chance but can be controlled on a leash. Being leash reactive does not mean the dog should be off leash either. Get her under control on a leash, keep her on a leash in public and she might be just fine.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,325 Posts
Your dog growling at the cat is concerning. If its an option I would consider seeing if the humane society will take her back. Sorry you have to make these tough decisions, it must be heartbreaking.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,379 Posts
I think "ignored" is a bit harsh, dogs give out signals that are often very subtle and easily missed, especially if you're not exactly sure what you're looking for. Even though I know my own dogs very well, I'm sure they're screaming things at me all the time that I'm just too dim to figure out, lol.
I couldn't agree more with this statement. I am currently having a second party take hundreds of quick shutter speed pictures of my dog while I'm training. While it may be time consuming to go through each picture, they have told me SO much about my dog that I couldn't see from my angle in real time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,895 Posts
One thing about the rescues is that we don't know all the experiences they've been through.

It is possible yours was attacked by the same type of dog before...possibly even the same dog (though the owners probably would have said something). Unfortunately, we will never know what set her off for sure.

You've been given lots of good management advice. I hope it helps and you won't have to rehome, but if it is too overwhelming to keep this particular dog, I completely understand and sympathize.

Hope you'll keep us posted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
I had a similar problem. My Dog is extremely reactive to other dominant male dogs. there are always warning signs with him, sometimes very subtle (lowered head, raised tail, hackles up), its usually not a growl or bark until its too late. It's just something you need to recognize and deal with the problem before it arises. For me, that means no more dog park, or off leash around unfamiliar dogs. It took a while to figure out what his deal was, and the warning signs associated with the problem, but now its figured out, and while its not easily correctable, it is manageable. Also, my dog is a big teddy bear when it comes to kids, probably wouldn't worry too much about that, I agree dog and people aggression are totally different.
 
1 - 20 of 40 Posts
Top