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Dog Case History: inter-dog aggression

Background

Any physiological component of the problem had been ruled out by the referring veterinary surgeon.
Aidan is a 2-year-old German shepherd dog (neutered). He had a socially isolated early life and the clients who obtained him as a puppy lived in rural area where Aidan had had very little contact with other dogs. Since being cornered by a boisterous dog when he was young he has attacked all other dogs on sight, dogs and bitches indiscriminately. This has become a real problem since the owners have moved into town.

The male owner walked him late at night when no one was about. The female owner had stopped walking him at all, as she couldn't hold him when he attacked other dogs.

Diagnosis

All the evidence from the taking of a full case history led to the conclusion that Aidan's behaviour stemmed from fearfulness. Aidan's breed is a factor - some German Shepherds can have a pre-disposition to fearful and reactive behaviour, including aggression towards other dogs. Aidan wasn't widely socialised with other dogs as a tiny puppy and this was compounded by his owners living in a rural area where he had little contact with other dogs. The couple didn't take him to puppy or training classes, which might have helped. He has also learned that attacking other dogs makes them go away and this has reinforced the problem.

Treatment Plan

Stage 1: Increase owner control, promote and reinforce relaxed behaviour, change diet, muzzle train.

Stage 2: Change Aidan's association towards other dogs from negative to more positive using the processes of counter-conditioning and de-sensitisation programme

Stage 3: Gradually expose Aidan to 'real' dogs.

Stage 4: Exercise Aidan off the lead but keep him muzzled

Stage 5: remove muzzle

 

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