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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Why Is My Australian Shepherd All Of A Sudden Dealing With Aggression?

by Courtney

Friends, I have a 5 year old Australian Shepherd, whom I have had since she was a baby. I started clicker training her when she was a pup, and constantly engaged at the dog park. Then, after graduation I moved home after college she was living with me and my family at home.

At home, my mom has a German Shepherd, Rottweiler and my brother has two German Shepherds. She has always gotten along well with them. I lived at home for about 2 years, and commuted to work everyday so I was away from her a lot more during those 2 years. I noticed she started peeing on my bed and acting out, and she was tested for a UTI then which she didn't have either. She was a good dog still, we took her with us everyone, dog parks and to dog friendly bars and breweries in Houston.

After moving out of my mom's house this past October 2018, I changed her food from Pro Plan to Core Wellness. Then around the same time my boyfriend got a new Golden puppy who she did well around too. Then, I saw her begin to change in Nov./Dec. when we took her to breweries and she started barking at all the dogs (not a playful bark). It just continued to get worse, she started acting out when she saw dogs while being on the leash. We always take her to the dog park, and she is just fine still no signs of aggression. So I googled everything about leash aggression, I changed her food to Blue Buffalo, picked up her clicker training again - challenging her more but still I am struggling to get her back to her old self again.

Now, it isn't just dogs that she barks at. She barks at some PEOPLE who are coming up to her while she is on the leash. She is such a people lover and always had been. It breaks my heart to see her anxiety so high and she just isn't her old self.

Has anyone experienced sudden changes like this or have any advice for me?

I just want to do everything in my power to comfort her, though she has been through changes. We don't want to have to leave her at home either when we go to breweries and such but it is becoming very difficult to bring her around anything while on the leash.

Thank you so much!

Comments for Why Is My Australian Shepherd All Of A Sudden Dealing With Aggression?

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by: Jenny

I too experienced increased aggression in my Aussie around the age of 5. He started chasing cars, the UPS man, bit my brother-in-law and tried biting a few others. In our case I couldn't pinpoint any one thing that would cause the changes. He was unfixed and hadn't been with a female in a few years. He was still very friendly if he had known you for a while. Still good with our cats. But he'd even notice the UPS man if it was on the highway in front of our house and go after it. Unfortunately he was hit by a car 2 months ago so unfortunately I couldn't get the aggression under control. And have no advice for you there. But I have seen a dog go from non-agressive to aggressive.

Sudden aggression
by: Sue

Check her thyroid, could be the problem.

Thank you!
by: Courtney

I'm so sorry to hear about your Aussie, that is so tragic. Thank you for sharing your story!

I will go ahead and check her Thyroid! I took her to the vet again, and they said her bloodwork and kidneys looked great but I doubt they were looking directly at her Thyroid. The vet said I'm sure it is a mix of just the new puppy around!

anxious dog
by: Anonymous

Although it seems sudden to you, your dog has been through at least 3 changes in fairly quick succession: moving, food change, and a new puppy. Stress might not show right away b/c the dog felt too stressed in a new home to act out. But once the initial "newness" wore off, you started seeing the results.

Obviously, this is just one possible explanation. You could talk to your vet about trying some meds or other interventions. You will certainly want to muzzle train and be prepared to do some desensitizing and re-conditioning. There are tons of web sites devoted to helping reactive dogs. C.A.R.E. for reactive dogs is one--it is a simplified version of some other techniques. BAT 2 is another topic to google. Reactivity is nearly always based in anxiety and fear, so anything punitive is absolutely the wrong way to go--it just gets the dog to associate things it may already fear (people, other dogs) with additional pain (e-collars, leash pops, etc). Most methods are about addressing the underlying anxiety, not simply eliminating the behavior, b/c the behavior is the warning sign--and if you eliminate only the behavior, you can easily end up with a dog that bites without warning.

Good luck

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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

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