You are here:

Dogs/change in behavior


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!

Hi Kylie....
Any drastic change In behaviour, especially with aggression is cause for concern but not cause 'to give a good, happy long term pet away! All behaviours can be dealt with effectively and where help is needed it should be sourced.
Has there been any changes in Ellies life recently? Is she in good health? Is she generally a well behaved, well trained dog that is loved and doted on? Usually when a dog RE acts like this its thru fear or pain. Has your dog Dixie behaved differently toward Ellie, come into heat or been more intense in play at all?
Giving Ellie away will not solve the concern and if there is an issue it will only go with her to someone else. My advice would be for your Aunty and Uncle to take her to the vet for a thorough medical to rule out a physical reason that may be making her react toward Dixie during their play.
If there is no medical reason then behavioral it is. What needs to be ascertained is why? How? When?
A behavioural trainer or behavioural vet can assess Ellie in her own environment, with Dixie, with other dogs, with aunt and uncle etc. It could be a dominance  issue, jealousy, fear and or anxiety that she is uncertain where she fits in her pack etc so she's intermittently lashing out. Sounds like the events have escalated and thats not a nice thing. But thru a process of elimination you will get to the reason and can then work on  discouraging her unacceptable behavior and redirecting her with positive reinforcement.
Having said this, your family is responsible for keeping her, your dog and other people safe and any escalation in aggression must be observed. With killing a wood chuck which Im guessing is a small wild animal like a ground hog or squirrel? That is probably not anything to be concerned about as you dont know her breed types so highly likely its just a prey drive that many dogs have naturally or she has a hunting breed within. If first one caught in 6 years its not cause for alarm,  just so happened it occurred when red flags had gone up.
With commitment, love,  patience and a good trainers input Im confident Ellie can be dissuaded from this behaviour. But pls rule out medical first as like I said pain, fear, anxiety etc can cause fear aggression outbursts.
good luck, if u can, pls send quick update when you know what's happening? Best wishes Leigh-Anne


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts




I am not a veterinarian but I do have some medical understanding and knowledge through years of experience and shelter work, but I am not prepared to give life or death medical advice and suggest if you have medical concerns you seek the advice of a QUALIFIED VET immediately for your family members' safety, health and well being. Agreed? Great! I have worked in an animal shelter,also owned dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, birds, fish, ferret, mice, oh and green tree frogs! They have all been spoiled rotten and lived to long, long old ages in pure contentment. During their lifespans I've had to manage the puppy stage of nappies and broken sleep, toddler stages, teens, maturity & elderly citizens....they are all very different with very different needs. I've dealt with various health concerns, behavioral issues, training & obedience, safe housing & lifestyle issues, exercise, toys & enrichment, safety, grooming, diet, euthanasia and so forth. I am experienced in the above and more, so would be happy to pass on my knowledge and experience if you have concerns with your "4 legged family member" I will answer your questions as quickly as possible and provide you with the best answer from my knowledge & ability. If its beyond me, I will be honest and not lead you astray, but instead direct you to someone/somewhere that can assist you further. I'm in South Australia and have good Intel on what is available and where! I appreciate that your 'baby' means the world to you,so please........ don't waste precious time online if its a medical issue or emergency of any proportion-contact your NEAREST VET STAT! I look forward to hearing from you & thanks for considering my assistance!


Young Animal Protection Society (YAPS) North Queensland (volunteer employment for 9 years) - rehab of cats and dogs all breeds, ages and backgrounds - Exercise dogs - Wash and clean kennels, cages and bedding - Prepare feed and special diets, feed all animals - train and work on behavioral issues - Monitor animals and vet needs- take when required - collect strays and follow council procedures and by laws - groom, bathe and provide allergy treatment - administer heartworm, flea, tick and worm preventatives - play and provide enrichment activities - special work with dogs with mild food/toy/dog aggression, fear, anxiety and/or mistreatment to re-establish trust and faith - Assistant Vet Nurse at Beach Road Veterinary Clinic Nth Qld Pet owner of: Pure bred German Shepherds x 2 (both males)fully obedience trained to hand signals Pure bred Australian Silky Terriers x 3 (males) Pure bred Chihuahua (male) White male ferret various goldfish, tropical and Beta's(bred Beta's) Two mice and couple of green tree frogs when younger 4 cats male - 2 male moggies, and CURRENT- 2 females ages 12 & 13, mum & daughter(PART PERSIAN Torty -assisted at birth of 4 babies, broke sacs, got breathing etc.... CURRENT: Pure bred male blue English Staffy at 5 mths Various Strays and "foster" kids over the years

Animal Welfare League WSPA Port Adelaide Dog Obedience Club

non medical Cert III & IV in animal care

©2017 All rights reserved.