View Full Version : Aggressive Dog - Please Help
10-15-2003, 11:39 AM
Hi, I am new on this. I have a problem with my dog, he is extremely aggressive and bite us all the time. We have consult with several vets and it doesn't seem to be a behavior problem but a medical problem called BIPOLAR which can be treated with medication. Has anybody heard of something like that? How is it diagnosed? Can somebody help me? To put him to sleep is not considered, I can't do that.
10-15-2003, 03:32 PM
Welcome to this site! I'm sorry to hear about your dog who has been diagnosed with Bipolar Mood Disorder. I'm not sure how they would screen for Bipolar in dogs, but I know that for people they usually look at the "outward" signs that the person is presenting with. For example, if someone seems to have tons of energy (almost manic) & restless, has difficulty sleeping, often mad and aggressive, and has limited attention span, then those are the obvious symptoms of Bipolar disease. Does your dog have any of these symptoms ... does have endless energy, can't focus on what you are asking him to do (doesn't listen well to your commands), etc?
As far as treatment, Lithium is the most commonly used medication for Bipolar mood disorder. Did the vets suggest this course of treatment for your dog? I have heard that lithium, if given too high a dose, can be lethal for dogs.
I have personally not heard of dogs with this disorder, so I'm not sure what treatment/medications they would use. I'm only familiar with this illness afflicting people ... but I guess anything is possible.
Let me know what treatment/medication the vets have suggested for your dog, as I'm very interested in this and would like to know more about it.
Sorry this has gotten so long ...
10-15-2003, 05:33 PM
Thanks so much for your reply, is hard to feel all alone with this kind of problems, specially for us, animal lovers.
Well, let me tell you how I found out about bipolar mood, it was because my sister in law who lives in Florida, has a friend who is the vet. at the Zoo and she asked her, she described my dog's behavior and she inmediately said it was BIPOLAR. So after that, we have done a lot of research, and by the way, you are describing my dog, his is exactly as you said, he gets exhausted and doesn't know when to stop, he is restless, angry with no reason, next second he is the sweetest thing in the world, and I have took him to hundreds of doctors and they said it was behavior, but it is not, he is great with obedience commands, is just like something happens in his head, from one second to another and he will get angry, there's no reason whatsoever for him to get that angry. I always thought there was something wrong with him, some medical explanation for his behavior, and it seems this is it.
Our next step is taking him to a different vet, expert in this kind of dog's problems which will be this week and let's see what kind of tests he will have to do to him and what kind of medication will be right for him.
Anyhow, thanks so much for your interest, and I will keep you posted on his progress.
10-17-2003, 02:57 AM
Hello Ana Marie and welcome :)
I've never heard of animals diagnosed as bipolar either... guess anythings possible. Im sure a there are meds that can help. Please keep us updated and good luck.
10-17-2003, 11:06 AM
Hi Squawk, thanks for your reply.
Today is his appointment where he will have to do a complete medical exam determine if this is Bipolar, which it seems to be.
This vet told me there are very few cases of this disease, all of them in Cocker Spaniels.. strange ah? Anyhow, I will keep you guys posted. Thanks a lot.
10-26-2003, 03:07 AM
How did the appointment go?. I'm interested to hear if they found out anything and if there are meds to help if he is bipolar.
10-27-2003, 10:58 AM
The appointment went well, they made a bunch of tests to him and the doctor doesn't think this is Bipolar, is very hard to diagnosed on dogs, so he started by changing his diet completey and he has improved 100%... incredible.
He put him on a naturist diet, no chemicals, he gave him some medicines for rehydratation and for his liver. He is like a different dog, the change was immediate although the doctor said we will not see changes for at least 4 weeks, but in his case the change was next day. He also recommended to take him to a Behaviorist so that's what we are going to do next.
Thanks so much for your interest, and I will keep you posted.
I want to think he will be fine forever, but is too soon to say so.
Just thinking about him being Bipolar and having him on medication for the rest of his life, really depressed me, so I hope this was just a problem of food and that he will be OK from now on.
10-27-2003, 11:48 AM
Thats so wonderful!!. Your such a great mom for taking him and helping him. Alot of people would have not bothered and just got rid of him. Thank you and I'm sure he loves you for what your doing... your an angel. Good luck with the behaviorist and do keep us updated :)
10-27-2003, 12:22 PM
Thanks so much for your words, it really encourages me. We love dogs to death, we have no children and this is our little baby.
More than one person, including his trainer and vet, told us why bother so much, just get rid of him and get another dog, but we couldn't even consider that possibility, I couldn't just give up on him like if he is a package or something else and I am so glad we didn't listen to these people.
I'll keep you posted, hey, by the way, I was looking at your profile and tomorrow is your birthday, so have a wonderful birthday, my best wishes for you.
10-27-2003, 06:45 PM
I too am glad you didnt listen to them... We are such a throw-away society when it comes to animals :( . They become our kids and part of the family when we make the decision to bring them home. Its unbelievable the happiness and unconditional love they bring to our lives everyday. They truly are the souls of this world.
Thank you so much for the birthday wishes!. As much as I would like to stop having them now.... guess its unstoppable LOL. Hubby is taking me out to dinner tonight since he is leaving out of town tomorrow for a job. What do ya think... steak and lobster ?LOL.
10-28-2003, 01:43 PM
Hi! Hope you are enjoying yr birthday... difficult choice, steak or lobster... me in your place will have Steak & Lobster... both. Tomorrow you can diet and burn all those calories, lol.
it's true... how can people be so mean to pets? They are like little persons, many times better than many persons, their love is unconditional, they just want to make us happy. Makes me so angry to see abused animals, the worst thing is that every time there are more abandoned animals all over the world. I wish I can do something about it, I will love to work on a shelter or rescue or one of those places, I love animals.
Anyhow, enjoy your day and keep in touch.
10-31-2003, 12:11 AM
My sister has a Brittany Spaniel that she rescued from the pound. When we brought him home he was a little hyper, but that was his nature and he settled in with the rest of the family well, both human & animal. After about 6 months we noticed a change in his behavior. He became moody & snapped at us, especially when we touched his head and back. He also was a tick magnate, whenever we would walk both dogs in the same place, only Ralphie came out loaded. My sister took him to the vet and he did some blood tests and determined he had lymes disease and treated him with anitbiotics and Glucosimione. He will probably have arthritis the rest of his life fron the lyme disease and have to take the glucosimine but it certainly has changed him back to the sweet playful guy he originaly was. She would never think of getting rid of him. He even bit me pretty hard in the car one day, I wasn't angry about it though. I thought he did it because he was sick. So stick with your dog. I think it will work out
11-02-2003, 12:48 AM
I'm so glad your sister took her dog to the vet lucky'smom and everything is fine now... sorry to hear about the lymes :( . Wouldn't it be great if the animals could tell us when something is wrong, its hard sometimes. Please give your sister our best, she's an angel and Im sure Ralphie will love her forever :)
11-21-2003, 11:45 PM
For one. Would you go to your doctor for psyciatric help? No you go to a therapist. Seek out a certified trainer and set an appointment. If you get the right trainer they'll be able to handle anything and most deal with aggressive dogs.
11-25-2003, 03:50 AM
@ anamaria : Is your dog a Cocker Spaniel?
11-25-2003, 12:53 PM
Yes he is a male Cocker Spaniel and he is worst than ever. I can't find a behaviorist in this area, we don't know what else to do, we are completely stressed out by this situation. Any advice is very welcome... please help us.
11-27-2003, 11:59 PM
Hi, I have just been reading your problem with your dog. I am a certified trainer and I deal with alot of behaviour problems. Now word of caution Vets are Vets and only that most of them have never delt with behaviour therapy. Most and not all are always looking for a medical condition to blame problems on. You do need a proffessional trainer and behaviourist. You said there is no one in your area. If you tell me a little more about this bitting problem then I will be able to help you. Give me a little more information like, when does he bite you? You have to be more specific in this area. Provide me with more information and I guarantee if this is a behaviour problem or a training problem I will be able to give you some good advice.
12-02-2003, 12:02 PM
Hi Top Dog, thanks for replying.
Ok, I don't know how to start because there are so many things that cause this aggressive behavior on him. First I need to tell you that he has been in training when this problem started, with a certified trainer but her methods were very extreme and cruel.. for example, everytime he will bark she will spray vinegar on his mouth and nose, that made him more angry, or lift him from his leash in the air and shock him until he couldn't breath, this caused him to get worst and worst every day, he is scared to death of the leash and obviously, that kind of treatment didn't worked for him so after 4 or 5 months we stopped going to her. Now, he is extremely protective of me, my husband can't even sit by my side, he will get jealous or I don't know what, he had bit me a couple of time but to my husband all the time. A couple of months ago he had started biting friends of us, which he didn't do before. Some times I think is because he is very nervous, looks like he is scared of something but I don't know what, the whole territory thing also came to my mind, is his house and he rules there. He is very good with the obedience thing, he went to puppy school and we don't have a problem with that, is just the biting that is getting worst and worst. We do not want to get rid of him we want to help him, he is our baby and we love him to death but also we understand that is dangerous having a dog like him that could really cause us problems. I don't know what else to do, he is fine when he is with me, loving and caring, but when my husband is home, he is horrible and he has bite him really badly a lot of times. His vet doesn't think this is a medical condition, she thinks is just a behavior problem, he is a healthy strong dog. Some people suggested to send him to training and boarding, I found a place that said they can take him for a minimum of two weeks and they will train him, but I don't know if this is a good idea, he needs to listen to us not to other people right? Can you help us please????? Thanks so much for your interest.
12-04-2003, 10:11 PM
sorry I did not get back to you earlier I was having problems with my computer. Anyhow I am glad you went to obedience and you said he knows his stuff well. Anyhow we proffessional dog trainers can get results using extreme force but unfortunatly it is hard to get our clients to do the same and I do understand because I once also was a dog lover and not a dog trainer and if a dog trainer told me to do this I would think they were cruel and would not follow through and if I did maybe not the correct way, also you are right if you send you dog to for inboard training the dog may be trained for the trainer and not for you that is why I do not even offer that program. Anyhow it does sound to me as I suspected that you have a dominant dog. And guess what he is dominant over you, that is why he bites your husband, you and your guests. He is basically ruleing the roost. You can demote him using some basic rules such as make sure that you and your husband eat before he does and he must see this, he is always fed last, he should never be allowed to walk infront of you even in the house, you can keep a collar and leash on him at all times and when he walks infront which he will try use the leash to keep him back, he should not be allowed on high surfaces such as the bed, sofa etc. always on a lower level than you and your husband, the bedroom should be off limits to him. Any attention seeking behaviour should be completly ignored, and if you decided that he deserves a little attention he should work for it, a simply command such as sit or better yet down before a pet or scratch should be obtained, if he ignores your command then ignore him. I am giving you the basic here, you can go on leerburg website and get full details on dominant dogs. I am only touching on the subject but if you need more info on books etc. do not hesitate to ask.
12-08-2003, 10:48 AM
Just another angle, I may be all wet, but over the years I have had many cockers during my grooming career who seemed to have inheirited poor temperment genes back from the 80's when everyone and his brother seemed to be breeding them.
These were fear biters, one never knows what will trigger a panic attack on their part, and they strike out in the only way they know how. They lack self confidence, leadership and they struggle to take control out of fear.
I have collected alot of links and information here:
If any of this sounds familiar, this may be the angle to investigate. If not, well, just a thought.
12-08-2003, 01:52 PM
Thanks so much for your help. We have really trying to follow the instructions you told me, but it is so hard, is like starting all over again. I have also been in the Leerburg web-site, they have a page on dominance dogs.. is like they are describing my dog, he is so smart but he is so stubborn, insecure and needy... he needs constant attention 24 hours a day, needless to say we gave him the attention he requires.. whenever he needs, he sleeps in our bed, couch, wherever he wants, he eats when he wants and we never know when he is going to have one of these attacks ... I know, we are the ones to blame... is not his fault, he doesn't know better.
Now we have a problem, we are scared of him, sometimes we can't even approach him, less try to physically force him, for example there is no way we would ever be able to put a muzzle on him or put him inside a cage.. no way! One of the things Leerburg says is don't fight a war that you can't win, and there are lots of times we can't win a fight against him because of him bitting us, we now are trying to avoid these kind of situations by ignoring him many times, not inviting people over, etc.. and he is much better when there is nobody else except us, but I realize this is not the best way, we are doing what he wants and he thinks he is control.. again.
You as an expert, do you think WE can correct this kind of behavior or do you think we will have to learn to live with his aggressive behavior? Still, do you recommend a behaviorist? What else we can do?
Again, thanks so much, I really appreciate your interest.
12-09-2003, 11:23 PM
I have many clients with this problem,
yes you can fight this giving up and living with the problem will not solve anything. One way of dealing with problems is to put a choker and a long leash on him and let him drag this around all the time, spray the leash with something awful tasting because once he knows you have control he will try to chew the leash off and you are back at square one. Do not put a muzzel on him this will be very difficult to get on him and I find it causes them to become more aggressive. When that muzzel comes of boy you will get it or to get it back on will be next to impossible. With the proper collar ( choker ) and leash you will find sucess. I recomend chokers so the dog can not back out of the collar. Any command you give him, such as off the couch can be reinforsed using the leash to take him off. to get him into a crate can be done by placing the leash at the back of the crate and pulling him in, he will fight like a bull but you have control and he will not be able to bite you, also if he is laying in your path you simply take the leash up and remove him from your path and keep moving, if he goes to bite at anytime you have the leash and can pull straight up causing the choker to tighten so he can not bite you and do not release him if he struggles (temper tantrom) only release when he gives into you. As his behaviour improves I would cut one foot of the leash off at a time until he is only left with a tab(something you will still have a handle on). I have demoted many a dog this way, even Great Danes, the worst thing is to think you should have to live with this problem. YOU DONT AND SHOULDNT. GOOD LUCK.
12-10-2003, 02:00 PM
Personally I find that very few know how to put a choke collar on properly and even fewer can understand the tug-release method that is so important for it to work.
I've known aggressive dogs and overly timid dogs to intrepret this as force, the agressor fought harder and the timid dog froze with fear. I get better results with doggie psychology or reverse psychology. I outfox them, they think it was their idea to do it and everyone is happy.
There are actually fewer dominant dogs than people think, sometimes this behavior comes from fear, lack of trust, leadership, or an alpha wanna-be who just needs a little extra reinforement in obedience.
This is taken from my studies and experiences after 18 years of dealing with 40-50 different dogs per week.