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Lisa, Certified Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 16480
Experience:  CVT with a special interest in behavior modification through structure, boundaries and limitations with positive reinforcement.
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My sister's dog has been diagnosed by a behavioirst with conflict

Customer Question

My sister's dog has been diagnosed by a behavioirst with conflict & fear agression. She's a 2 1/2 year old lab/shepherd mix. Her mother was beaten while pregnanat and rescued - giving birth to Kona and her 7 siblings a few days later. After seeing a behaviorist in Chciago, she was prescribed anti-anxiety meds but is now being weened off them as they haven't seemed to help much. The issue that started all this was that she bit someone, a minor bite with bruising rather than broken skin, but still a bite. For months before that she would become possessive at times of her crate, bed, toys, etc. Lately, going in her crate she has growled and lunged at my sister and bit her once. She was crate trained from day one. She also has a sudden fear of going into her crate at times. She has now bitten my brother-in-law while barking meanly - a new escalation in the fear agreession. We are desparate to find out if there is anything else we can do before trying to rehome her. Physical ailemnts were ruled out before going to the behaviroist. Could disharmony in their marriage be causing more stress & anixiety on her causing this escalation? I am around here the most after my sister & husband because basically my sister has kept her from being around others while trying to work this issue out. They have never hit her and she has never been abused as she was born in the rescue environment.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Lisa replied 2 years ago.
Hi there! My name is ***** ***** I'm happy to help you with your question today. Just like an in person consult, I have a few questions of my own to help ensure I give you the best advice possible....
Is Kona spayed?
Has she ever gone to any obedience classes?
Has your sister/brother-in-law owned Shepherd mixes before?
How much exercise is she getting daily?
Did the behaviorist evaluate her at home, or in a clinic environment?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Kona was spayes as soon as she was old enough to be. She has been to many obedience classess. 99.9% of the time she is a good dog. She listens to commands well. She gets a 30-40 minute walk almost every morning. Her nightime walks vary. On the weekends in the summer she swims in the lake at our summer home and in the winter we try to play catch with her in the yard. This is the first mix they have had - first dog together for that matter.
Expert:  Lisa replied 2 years ago.
And the you know if it was a board certified behaviorist?From your description, it sounds like Kona mostly acts up when she thinks someone is trying to get something she's protective that correct?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
She is board certified and recommended by Kona's reg vet. She was evaluated at a clinic, but my sister provided a very in depth history on her. Kona is protective of her crate, so we stopped reaching in to get her collar off. We take it off outside. She's protective of her bed that we have for her to just lay around on. She has never jumped off it at you, but she gives you a look where you see the whites of her eyes sometimes if you are walking by - just as every thing you read tells you about. She has spatial issues - so we don't approach her, we let her approach us. Previously if you approached her she would give you the same look or the teeth. But it has definitley escalated. This is the strange thing though. She loves to swim in our lake and play frisbee. She has never been protective of her frisbee and has never acted up when getting ready to swim or being taken out of the water. She'll come out of the water to jump off the pier and play with her frisbee in the grass. We can take it right out of her mouth or from under her paw with a simplee leave-it command. Never an issue. Also, I forgot to mention she wa a certified TDI therapy dog until she bit the first time.
Expert:  Lisa replied 2 years ago.
Did the vet test her thyroid by chance?And this ONLY happens when she seems to be guarding/protecting something?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
She has been thoroughly tested fro everything. We wanted to make sure we ruled out any physical ailments to cause this behavior. Everything came back negative. She has growled & showed her teeth the following instances: sitting next to a cabinet island and being petted by a child (with supervision) about 20 minutes after inside the car while my sister hugged someone goodbye, mutliple instances if she is in the back of the car and feels threatened while you stand at the back (preparing to take off her collar - or just standing there), sleeping & was awoken by being petted(no fault on her for that one), reaching into her crate to take off her collar or even give her a treat (but not every time), being petted by a librarian after a therapy reading session, while my sister was trying to get her in the crate with no collar on, and the latest this morning with my brother in law, same routine as every other day but today she lunged & bit his hand while barking. It is sporadic and we have not been able to pinpoint any differences in her reaction to what the task is that caused her to react.
Expert:  Lisa replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the additional information. I really appreciate it.This is a very difficult case. Normally, in behavior issues, we see the dog starting with an issue that never gets addressed by the owners, which then increases in severity as the dog ages.Clearly, this is not the problem here because Kona is a very highly trained dog who has done therapy work in the past. It's also unusual that it's nearly impossible to narrow it down to just guarding or just fear based aggression.To me, it actually sounds like there is something medical going on that is hiding from view. Things like thyroid problems, arthritis, even kidney or liver problems can start out making a dog act differently long before the results show up in medical diagnostics.I wonder if having a trainer who works specifically with aggressive dogs in a novel environment (meaning that they take the dog to their training facility to work with it) could get to the bottom of things. I know that you were considering having to give her up for adoption, but with this kind of aggression, I'm afraid her outcome might not be too positive in those environments. Most rescues don't take dogs who show aggression because they don't have the resources to retrain the finding a facility may be the best next step for everyone involved, including Kona.If you wanted to give me a zip code, I could see if I can find a facility near you that could help.

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