Aggressive Dalmatian

Question And Answer Solved !

Q: I took on the ownership of this Dalmatian when she was 6 months old. Although I know the people I got her from, I also know that it’s possible she was mistreated. She’s always had tendencies towards aggression–barking and growling excessively at strangers. Of course, she has other bad habits too–chewing things, digging in my yard. When I brought home a new kitten 6 months ago or so, she bit it and it has a permanent nick in it’s ear. She continued to go after the kitten and my other cat will not come out of hiding around her.

I put her on a shock collar to discourage some of these behaviors and even got a muzzle to put on her around other people, and when I leave so she won’t chew. She has bitten us, never too seriously, however, yesterday something set her off and I’m not sure at all what. She ended up attacking our toy Poodle. I had to take the Poodle for stitches, 5 on one side and 1 on the other side of her back. While she was attacking the Poodle, my 12 year old reached into her mouth to get her to release and she too got bit. This time it did draw blood but didn’t require stitches.

Most of the time she’s very sweet and affectionate and I feel safe with her protecting me. I know that no one would ever get away with hurting me when she’s around. However, now my Poodle is afraid of her, my husband is angry with her, and I’m in the middle just heartbroken wondering what to do. I don’t want to pay an arm and a leg to get her to some special trainer that probably wouldn’t completely solve the problem. What can I do? She’s now 1 1/2 yrs old. Is she still a puppy? Thanks.

A: Ask your vet to recommend a behavior specialist who can meet with you and your dog and evaluate the situation. Aggression toward other animals is not a reason to put a dog to sleep, but you do have to protect the other animals. Aggression toward people is often a reason to put a dog to sleep, if you can’t find a way to make sure there won’t be any more bites.

At a year and a half, your dog is maturing, and this behavior may get worse without the right intervention. Aggression does tend to get progressively worse. An expert in person may be able to tell you how likely it is that you can get the aggression under control. It will be a big training task, and you’ll always have to be careful about having the dog around other people and animals.

Until you can get her evaluated, I would certainly keep her away from your other pets and from strangers and guests. I hope things work out, but I fear this is going to be a very difficult situation, whatever you choose to do.

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