Feel like dog's personality has completely changed since he was attacked :-((7 Posts)
Hi all, would love some advice on this: about 4 weeks ago my partner was walking our dog (on lead) near our home when an off lead terrier ran up and attacked him, grabbing him by the throat. The owners appeared and dragged it off, but left while my partner was checking our dog for injuries.
We took him to the vet who confirmed he wasn't injured - however it has really affected his behaviour / character.
A week later, again while out on his lead, another, different terrier came up to our dog (in a friendly, non aggressive way) and he snapped at it, catching its ear. He has never shown any aggression to other dogs before - this was completely out of character. We obviously offered to pay the owner's vet bill and give our phone number etc.
Since then he's become so much more reactive to other dogs in the street, barking and growling and generally appears very tense.
We felt it was only responsible for him to start wearing a muzzle as he'd bitten another dog. But understandably other owners now see him with it on and keep their dogs away so he's getting less socialisation in the park and can't play his beloved tennis ball or fetch sticks on walks either - he doesn't understand and I feel so sad for him. He has also become more fear aggressive in the house with the window cleaner and post lady etc, barking and rushing around whining.
So overall it feels like this one incident has really changed his life for the worse - how can we help him? Would love to hear from anyone who has built their dog's confidence back up after being attacked or experienced something similar.
Join Reactive dogs UK in Facebook.
They have lots of good advice there.
You will have to start doing desensitisation and counter conditioning training to get his confidence back.
When you see a trigger that causes him to react, start getting him to focus on you and give him treats until the trigger has passed.
If he doesn't focus on you and reacts, you're probably too close to the trigger and was too late in spotting it.
The general idea is that you get closer and closer to the trigger to the point that he ignores it.
He may not be able to be face to face with the trigger but at least he is less reactive than before and the threshold for him to react will be higher.
It can take months or longer and worth doing it.
I second joining Reactive Dogs Uk on facebook. Run by professional behaviourists and everyone is really supportive.
In the meantime I'd leave the walks for a few days to give his cortisol levels ( stress hormones) time to calm down and do some brain training games at home.
I am in the middle of this with my dog whose confidence has been eroded over the last 12-18 months after a series of attacks.
He is not reactive in terms of growling / lunging at sight of a dog and is able to pass dogs on pavement and at quite close quarters but if an unfamiliar larger dog approaches him he freezes and looks very tense. Sometimes all is well, sometimes not and it's the unpredictability that is very stressful.
I have now started working with a behaviourist. I am doing walks with a dog walker and her very calm dogs and she has told me all the theory about getting them to focus on you etc but to be honest theory is one thing putting it successfully into practice feels virtually impossible. I feel pretty hopeless about the whole situation and am paying an absolute fortune every week to walk with this lady which I won't be able to continue indefinitely.
Sorry not hugely helpful but just wanted to say I feel your pain. My dog was such a friendly confident dog before all this and I feel like I am mourning for the dog I once had.
I have had the same experience. My lovely, sociable boy was attacked by a
psychopathic Labrador and his personality changed overnight.
Not only is he frightened of other dogs now, but he's randomly reactive to traffic, livestock and basically anything unfamiliar. A behaviourist we saw likened it to a person who had perhaps been mugged - they are likely to become not just scared of muggers, but generally more nervous in a lot of situations.
As others have said the key is getting him to focus on you and trust you to keep him from harm, and to give him time off from walking if he'd had a bad experience. We can have good weeks where things will go well and we can even do gentle introductions to new dogs, but one bad day can set him back again so easily.
It's incredibly tough, and the owner of the dog who attacked ddog has no idea of the impact it has had.
Oh my god Bubble this sounds exactly the same - you've hit the nail on the head. I'm so sorry your dog has gone through this too and agree the owners of the dogs who attacked probably have no idea of the impact. Last we saw the one who attacked ours was still being walked without a muzzle...
Ours is a rescue dog who has made amazing progress since we got him in January but this has really put him back.
Thank you also for the recommendations for the FB group - looks really helpful. We were already doing reactivity training with horses which he is scared of so can extend this to other dogs too. We know he is showing fear reactivity but understand to others it can look like aggression.
Thanks also babyblackbird, I totally know what you mean about 'mourning' the dog you once had. The thought of ours having to wear a muzzle the rest of his life is very sad. Glad it sounds like walking with other known dogs is helping - ours has a couple of trusted dog pals whose owners are happy to still walk with us when we're both free so he gets interaction that way but unfortunately they don't live near enough to make it a weekly thing.
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