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Canine Behavior/scary behavior

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Question
Hi! I have a question about my aunt and uncles dog, Ellie. She is a mixed breed about medium size short hair and around 6 years old. They've had her for many years. We've brought our 7 year old female Brittany spaniel, Dixie out there to play with her for the past few years and they have always gotten along, just a few playful fights. Just a few weeks ago Ellie attacked our dog Dixie but we stopped Ellie. It happened again not long after that and she was biting onto my dogs neck and it was kinda bad but we stopped her. Now they told me that Ellie just killed a wood chuck. We are now scared to bring Dixie out there because Ellie has started this behavior. Like I said, they've had her for many years and she's never acted like this. They're now thinking about maybe giving her away. Is there a cause for this behavior? I don't think it's normal, but if it's how she's going to be for the rest of her life then they may give her away. I'm thinking there could be a reason she has started this scary behavior but I'm not sure. Any advice would be great!

Answer
First: this is not your dog but she is a clear and present threat to your dog.  DO NOT bring your dog to visit her.

Second:  depending on breed mix (hard to determine without an experienced eye) this dog may very well be doing what its genetic components designed it to do.  They CANNOT give the dog away, that is out of the question.  She is poorly socialized to other dogs and most likely children as well.  One does not "give away" a dog that has a problem behavior.  It is not responsible, and it is not fair to the dog.

There are many breeds and breed types of the domestic dog that have high prey drive.  At age five, the domestic dog obtains complete maturity.  When a dog has high prey drive, it will follow that drive.  Since this is not your dog, you are not in a position to attempt to correct (rehabilitate) this behavior.  I can't advise you regarding that dog, but I can advise you that your own dog must now be kept away from her and may very well have obtained a conditioned fear response to other dogs.

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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