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Little dog has become aggressive since being left with a sitter

(13 Posts)
WeAreEternal Tue 07-Jul-15 12:42:06

A few weeks ago we went on holiday, usually we leave the dogs with my brother or neighbour but both were busy so we hired a family friend to sit the little dog (a 2 year old Jack Russell) and a friend took the big one.

When we get home the big dog is fine but the little dog is not.

The sitter said he was fine for the first week but then began acting aggressively, snarling and snapping a lot and she ended up having no choice but to keep him locked in the utility room as she was scared he would hurt her DC.

The dog was always very affectionate and playful but since coming home he won't come near us and if we try to get him to play or approach him at all he starts snarling and growling (showing teeth and snapping).

At first I though it might just be separation anxiety and hoped he would go back to normal.
However, over the last two weeks it has gotten worse, now he snarls if we go anywhere near him and if we don't back away he attacks, snapping, jumping and growling.
Yesterday he attacked me, I attempted to shoo him into the conservatory (where the dogs beds are) like I have had to do a few times now but his aggression worsened and he bit me (bad enough that I had to put a couple of stitches in it).

He has never been like this before, he has snarled in the past, usually if he feels threatened but it only ever lasted a few seconds and once he knew he was ok it stopped, it has never been this bad though.

After I managed to get him into the conservatory yesterday he continued the snarling and snapping, running at the glass like he was trying to get me, it was really quite scary.

What has happened to my lovely little dog?
Is there any way to reverse this?

Lilcamper Tue 07-Jul-15 13:03:12

You need to see a vet to rule out any medical reasons for this.

Then you need help from an APBC behaviourist. I would be wondering if your dog was physically disciplined or accidently hurt/startled at the sitter's.

WeAreEternal Tue 07-Jul-15 14:34:53

Thanks for the reply.

The sitter said nothing happened, he was just completely fine and then one day he began acting aggressively, she assumed it was anxiety as there were quite a few dcs running around the house and they had a few visitors so she thought maybe he was just nervous by all the people and over stimulated by all the attention from the dcs.
But then it continued to happen into the second week and she felt threatened enough to lock him in the utility room to prevent him becoming aggressive towards the dcs.

I believe what she says, I've known her for many years and she has had several dogs of her own who were all lovely.

I will call the vet and make an apt, thanks.

SunshineAndShadows Tue 07-Jul-15 14:47:44

It does sound as if he's suddenly become phobic. Children etc can be hugely stressful for dogs and for some dogs it only takes one negative reaction to trigger fear aggression.

Try and keep your interactions with him below his fear threshold. He cannot learn to trust you if he's scared. Sit down at a distance that he doesn't object, talk quietly to him and toss him treats. Don't make any moves to touch him or pick him up. Let him come to you. Once he's relaxed you can try gentle petting ONLY If he remains calm and close to you, and it may take several days to get to this stage.

He needs to reprogramme his fear of you and see you as a source of comfort instead.

BirdyArms Tue 07-Jul-15 17:06:54

I think that being left whilst you go on holiday can be hugely stressful for some dogs, definitely my mine behaved very oddly for more than a fortnight after we returned from holiday. Sounds like he became anxious and this is how it is manifesting itself. If he's not used to children then having them around all the time could have been very stressful for him too. And being locked in the utility room would have upset him further though completely understandable why your sitter had to do this. If you trust the sitter I wouldn't assume that anything bad had happened.

Agree that you should see a behaviourist ASAP. Feel really sorry for you, how awful to have your lovely dog behaving like this towards you, but I'm sure it can be sorted out. Good luck.

WeAreEternal Tue 07-Jul-15 20:40:49

The thing is he is much calmer with DS (8) he will go over and sit with data to be stroked and hasn't growled at DS at all, although obviously I've told DS to give him a lot of space and be careful around him.

This evening my brother and SIL visited, little dog loves them and although he was caucious at first he soon acted as usually and was jumping for cuddles and attention, but as soon as DO or I saw his name his ears would go down and he would leave the room.
It's so bizarre, it's like he suddenly hates us.

SunshineAndShadows Tue 07-Jul-15 20:47:46

He doesn't hate you, but something has clearly triggered his anxiety. He needs time and lots of positive reinforcement on his terms. Don't Rush him or expect him to behave as normal. Concentrate on building positive associations.

T1Inker Wed 08-Jul-15 09:24:57

Hello, May I? The fact that you mention the sitter in your post tells me you do have a concern about how your dog was treated. Yes, dogs do get anxious when all of a sudden left by their owner but this seems a little extreme to me. I am new here so I have a small problem understanding the abreviations used here, as in DS SIL etc. I am assuming one is your husband? Your dog sitter is female? If she in any way has frigthened your dog he might extend his fear to other females. A dog does not all of a sudden act agressivily without reason. Something has happened and I doubt it will be presence of children or activity around the house he was staying in. You will need some patience to get it right again. As said by others, he will have to relearn trust.

nellieellie Wed 08-Jul-15 09:35:39

I would agree that is important to get a check up done at the vets. Sudden changes in behaviour can signal a physical problem. It needs to be ruled out.
If something did happen to trigger this, it's possible your sitter did not see. It sounds like there was quite a lot going on and other people in the house, maybe children your dog had not met. Some children are brutal to dogs. Then, the dog is shut in the utility room for a week. Understand your sitters reasons for this, but your poor dog, possibly hurt and scared, and then isolated..... Did your sitter not contact you before you got back, to let you know what was going on?

WeAreEternal Wed 08-Jul-15 10:07:53

I mentioned the sitter in reply to Lil's post, I have no concerns about how little dog was treated by the sitter, I know she treated him well.
DS - dear Son
SIL - sister in law
DO - Dear other half.

The sitter did send text messages while we were away to let us know he was ok, she did say he was acting out as he was missing us, and that's what she put it down to.
Sorry I was a little misleading in my PP, the sitter put him in the utility room when the DC' s were around or when he began to growl, but he was allowed out other times (on an evening, while they were playing outside or upstairs or at school/nursery).

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Wed 08-Jul-15 11:22:10

Perhaps the children got a little boisterous with him? I know if mine get the dog into trouble they're quick to deny any involvement! I would imagine they have played with him and hurt him and your poor sitter knows nothing about it.

WeAreEternal Mon 13-Jul-15 13:11:05

I just wanted to update.

Little dog has been a little better, he has let me stroke him a couple of times but still runs if I talk to him or say his name.
He sill growls if I approach him but not as frequently or as aggressively.

So hopefully it's just a phase and he will go back yo normal soon.

The vet said he is fine physically but does have fleas, which could be irritating him and increasing the problem, we've treated him now so hopefully that will help too.

mrslaughan Mon 13-Jul-15 16:15:21

personally I wouldn't use that sitter again.

Something has happened while you were away - and you will never know what it is.

Having grown up with dogs who were left with people over the holidays , and having our own dog now who gets left with some trusted people, I just can't believe that this is anxiety from being left.

I am pleased that he is starting to come around.

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