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Canine Behavior/false pregnancy after spaying

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Question
I have a 20month old female rotweiler who was spayed last Thursday. Prior to spaying she was a very loving, obedient dog who had to be in someone's presence. Since Thursday she stays in her crate and has become quite possessive over it. We have a cat ,which they have grown up together. Got both as babies. SHe chases the cat and snarls when the cat enters the same room as her crate. If we approach her in her crate, she becomes very protective and has actually snapped at us. We did notice she is lactating. At first I thought she is in a false pregnancy state. She is exhibiting most symptoms (nesting, aggressive behavior, lactating, not eating much, etc). But I also wonder if she's depressed or is it a part of nesting? If you walk in the room and call her name, she won't even acknowledge you. If someone walks in the house (front door), she doesn't greet them. These are all things that are REALLY abnormal. She stays in her crate ALL day long. If she comes out to 'check something out' she immediately goes right back in. I've called FOUR vets/clinics in my town and they all have very limited advise on this situation. The only consistent thing I got was that we should remove her crate and not let her nest. We tried that last night but that made her easily acessible to my two young children in her volatile state. She has made it clear she wants to be left alone. Any advice on this situation would be greatly appreciated. Again, she has never shown any agression to anyone before.

Answer
Bad veterinarians, inadequate to the task at hand.  Your bitch was most likely spayed while estrogen titer was quite high and requires a course of progesterone to bring her false pregnancy into extinction.

Removing the crate would be my second suggestion while you find a veterinarian who knows what s/he is doing.  However, what you describe concerns me greatly.  "...easily accessible to my two young children in her volatile state.." is of GREAT concern to me.  This is NOT a casual breed and it does NOT belong in a home with young children unless the owner is especially experienced, the dog has been exquisitely socialized from a very young age, and has had positive reinforcement training.  NO young child should EVER be left alone with any dog, but especially certain breeds (this being one of them).

The situation might resolve by itself BUT THE DOG IS LEARNING about how to use aggression to "control" her environment (meaning: you and your small children).  This is NOT good.  She requires the immediate attention of a veterinary internist or veterinary behaviorist.  You can call the veterinary college in your geographical area for veterinary internist (or even a veterinary behaviorist) or can look for a veterinary behaviorist at these sites:

http://www.veterinarybehaviorists.org/
http://www.avsabonline.org/avsabonline/

Meanwhile: IGNORE THE DOG and absolutely and strictly prevent young children from interacting with her FOR ANY REASON so long as her behavior persists.  Pick up all stuffed animals she has or any toys she might be "guarding".  When she is fed (twice daily), the room must be EMPTY.  She must be allowed to remain with her food for fifteen minutes.  If she eats, fine; if she does not, distract her (don't direct it AT her, sing a little song, do something "entirely different" to get her attention, and have someone else remove her bowl).  Do not call her, do not entice her, do not soothe her, do not close the crate door and confine her, do NOTHING.  Do not use her name.  Call her anything else right now when you speak to one another.  If she appears to be threatening YOU or another adult, stand your ground, break eye contact, do NOT back away, wait until she has turned away from you, go about your business.  If she threatens a CHILD, remove the dog, period.

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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