Post # 1
So we have two dogs, one whose almost two and the younger one around 8 months. I love them both dearly, but things are getting really frustrating with them who we each got as puppies. In the last few months my oldest lovebug has started getting really reactive and pretty aggressive towards any people, strange objects, etc outside of our home. We live in the middle of the city and aren’t able to move for another 8 months or so. We started working with a private animal behaviorist for him and then she said he was ready to supplement with reactive dog group class. He seemed to be improving and we knew better how to handle him when people were around, but then it was like his anxiety nearly tripled nearing the end. We have to take precautions going any necessary places like to the vet, he used to always be amazing in his crate and now he howls and whines and yowls. He scares the neighbors. We got in trouble with one neighbor over him being so loud, which means a threatened pet eviction. He also started destroying things, which we expect from the little guy, but when he does it it’s hard to stay patient because we know he never had these problems before. He ripped up our mattress, our carpet, our put up shoes, any kitchen utensils and our chairs barely have stubs of legs left, our banister and a ton of our clothes (he is crate trained, but he’s big and this stuff happens in just minutes of looking away). We are trying to keep training, but if one of the people from the office were around and witnessed his behavior, we’d get a 24 hr notice before they’d have a shelter pick him up. He nearly bit a little girl the other day lunging at her when she was just talking to her mom on THEIR own porch. If I was in their shoes and the little girl had been mine, I already would’ve called the office or talked to his owner (me obviously). Then someones sweet dog got loose and went to run up to me super playfully, no negative dog body language and my older dog nearly turned it into a fight, but I was able to pull him back and the other dog ran. The vet ran blood tests and checked him and said he was fine and didn’t want to give him regular anxiety medication, but I don’t know what to do. We stopped fostering other dogs/puppies since the behavior began. It’s getting ridiculous and to be honest, I’m getting frustrated with my Fiance calling him MY dog b/c of all this, but then offering no solutions to help the situation. Has anyone else ever taken care of any dogs like this before and what they ended up doing or what happened in the end? Like I said he’s two, neutered, large and was always the sweetest lovebug in the world before the last few months. He has developed anxiety, but the vet doesn’t want to put him on regular medication and we’ve been working with trainers. Also, to add, I took about 2.5 months off of work to try and really work with him and recently returned minimally and I’m frustrated because it seems like his behavior is just not improving even though I took that time off for extra working with him and training. Any advice or experience would be much appreciated?
Post # 2
Did anything change in the household around the time the new behavior started? When did you get the puppy? Usually this kind of drastic shift is due to an environmental change, or a change in the people that the dog is around (if you’ve solidly ruled out a medical issue, anyway).
Post # 3
How much exercise does he get? Has anything else changed? Are they both spayed/neutered?
I’d get a second opinion.
Post # 4
Possibly growing pains from adding another dog to your household. It sounds like you’ve fostered short term with this dog, so he was probably really accepting of the puppy at first, right? But once it became obvious the new puppy wasn’t going anywhere he started acting out.
Honestly, some dogs need to be the only dog in a household. Do you have a freind or family member who could take the younger dog for a few weeks to see if the behavior subsides? Obviously, it’s not a long term solution, but if it is the cause, you’ll need to take a serious look at keeping both dogs.
Post # 5
What kinds of training methods did the trainer suggest? I know strictly positive reinforcement is very popular here on the bee, but if the training isn’t working, it may be time to seek a trainer who believes in a balanced training philosophy. It sounds like your older dog is not understanding “no” and the appropriate limits inside and outside of the home. I’d recommend finding a new trainer asap.
Also, I’d start muzzle training your dog so that you can still walk him, giving him the exercise he needs, without the risk of injuring a bystander or redirecting on you. While property destruction can land you an eviction, a bite can lead to euthanasia real quick depending on the victim.
Managing a reactive dog is so stressful. Best of luck to you. It sounds like you’ve been giving 110% and working so hard. You may just need to work differently to see the results you want.
Post # 7
Try an adaptil collar, it’s worked wonders on my antsy terrier. The collar emits the same pheromones a mama dog does when she has puppies and is scientifically proven to help relax anxious dogs. It was recommended to me by our dog trainer and we’ve definitely seen a noticable different. They’re relatively cheap on amazon or chewy.com
Post # 8
I saw this and wanted to chime in. We have two dogs as well, our girl is an adopted dutch shepherd mix and is about a year and 1/2. Our boy is a german shepherd mix and just turned 10 months. Right around a year old, our girl began getting reactive towards other dogs. At first it was just when she was on leash and then it escalated to even other dogs coming over to play or at the dog park. Then for a few weeks she would literally “go off” on our boy while at home. We consulted with a trainer, but he told us we may want to consider rehoming.
What we figured out is that she is sensitive on how she is approached. She does not like other dogs initiating the hello or sniffing her first. So we worked for a few months and she’s definitely at a normal level now. Our girl never turned aggressive to people, so I can’t chime in on that.
But we trained our girl by working with her one-on-one. Walks by herself, trips to dog friendly stores alone, etc. Every time she started to react, I’d walk the opposite direction and ask her to come and then give big rewards when she did as asked. Then we began saying “go say hi” to greet another dog. Giving her this command seems to let her know that I am in control of the situation and she doesn’t have to be anxious. She still doesn’t like it if other dogs set their head on her body or stand tall over her, but she’s 65lbs and fairly tall so this doesn’t happen too often. She is still crated during the day as we have cats but I would absolutely trust her and will leave her out for trips to the grocery store.
Any time you notice him starting to get anxious, take control. He may be needing guidance on the situation and since he’s not getting information from you, he’s lashing out. Also get him into something where he can let off steam. Our girl loves dock diving so we take her to a certain dog park with a lake. A tired pup is a good pup! And even if you don’t have time for that, stimulate his brain. Puzzle toys are great. So is hide and seek for rainy days. We also make barricades in the hallway and make her jump. She’s a completely different dog after all this training and while we still have to keep up on it, the results are well worth the trouble.
Hope you find something that helps!