Canine Behavior/Agression

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Question
I adopted a german shepherd about 1 years old. It has now been two years since. We have had two very bad experiences one 6 months ago and one a few days ago. When our dog hears another dog yelp or whine she goes into attack mode and gets very aggressive. She wont respond to verbal commands after that you have to quickly grab other dog and separate them. She put two dogs in the vets office. Deep muscle damage and lacerations on both. She was nearly impossible to separate from attacking. Pulling tail, Grabbing back legs, punches and kicks to head and body trowing nothing could get her to let go. She is 75 lbs. I am curious to what causes a yelp to set her into this attack mode and is there anything to get the behavior fixed? I really would like to try and fix the issue so I can feel safe bringing my dog out to play. I don't want this to happen to someone I do not know and have to put her down and get sued. I have been lucky so far the past two years of bringing her to public dog parks... She also growls a lot if she is on a leash but seems fine when you take her off the leash.

Answer
This dog CANNOT be allowed OFF LEASH in the presence of other dogs.  Her "attack" mode seems to be a fight/flight response OR a prey drive response, but I can't see anything from here.  Rehabilitating this behavior certainly CANNOT BE DONE in a text box, IF AT ALL.  The dog IS NOT "safe" to "play" with other dogs.  Not every dog is a candidate for the dog park or doggie play groups.  This response (impossible to diagnose from this distance) presents the possibility that this dog might react in this manner in the presence of a screaming baby or "whining" child.  There is no moral justification for taking that risk.

If you want a diagnosis of cause and any possible remedy (and I say "possible" because it is quite difficult to desensitize a dog with such an aberrant response to a "normal" occurrence with another dog that SHOULD elicit attention, not fear) find a CAAB - certified applied animal behaviorist - NOT a dog trainer.  One can be found at the following sites:

http://certifiedanimalbehaviorist.com/page6.html
http://www.animalbehavior.org/ABSAppliedBehavior/caab-directory

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.

Expertise

I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.

Experience

30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for ThePetChannel.com for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, K9Shrinks@egroups.com. Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Organizations
Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Publications
Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Education/Credentials
Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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