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Linda Simon
Linda Simon,
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 5615
Experience:  Locum veterinarian at Panacea pets ltd
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My dog is nearly 3 and a half, male, miniature English

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My dog is nearly 3 and a half , male, miniature English bull terrier. he was attacked last year ( no real injuries as we broke it up quickly). However since then, we have had 2 further incidents, started by my dog. He was castrated 13 weeks ago. Could this be fear aggression or is he just going to be a grumpy male dog? I only walk him on the lead now as not sure if/when he might try and go for another dog
JA: I'll do all I can to help. Have you tried anything so far that helps the Bull Terrier with his aggression?
Customer: He has attended dog day care one day a week since he was about a year old and apparently he has always got on well with other dogs (although I suspect that he could be quite boisterous). He has also attended and passed bronze and silver training. I need advice about how to manage him re the aggressive tendencies?. I have lost my confidence a bit walking him because I'm worried I might have to deal with another scrap. Both previous occasions have occurred in a garden where we have been able to throw water over the dogs. Out walking it might not be so easy!
JA: What's the Bull Terrier's name?
Customer: Alfie
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know about Alfie?
Customer: He has recently had surgery for mis aligned patella on rear left leg (same time as castration , 13 weeks ago). He has not been able to go to dog daycare for the last 4 months to allow leg to properly heal

Hi there, you are through to Dr Linda, a UK based vet.

I'm sorry to hear of these recent issues with Alfie and understand you must be concerned.

As his behaviour started after an attack, it is quite possible that he is displaying fear based aggression. It is often worse when dogs are on lead as they feel restricted and become more anxious.

What triggered him to attack if anything e.g. did the other dog approach wanting to play?

Were the incidents after his castration?

Without further information it is very difficult for me to provide the best advice but I shall certainly try.

Please reply when you can and we can continue the conversation.

Any new aggression warrants a general vet check in case of a subtle issue such as mild joint pain, a grumbling ear infection or a rotten back tooth.

If all is normal, a canine behaviourist can assess him. They are best placed to determine the root cause of aggression (dominance, being protective, fear etc) so we can start the best treatment plan.

Treatment may include desensitisation to other dogs, mental enrichment to reduce anxiety, increased exercise to burn off steam, calming medicine etc.

Hopefully we can get on top of this soon as I understand how worrying it must be.

If there is anything else, please let me know

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
Sorry, Have been busy so not able to reply. Just to recap, A year ago Alfie was attached red by another male (I realise now that I should have seen the warning signs and taken him away from the situation). I think it possibly stems from this. ~Howe ver, At dog day care thery said he was fine playing with the other dogs. In April we visited friends who had a large young male black Labrador who was on the lead, Alfie was off the lead and he went for him almost with in a minute. We were quite shocked by this but they were both entire males. I had Alfie checked by our vet and he recommended castration as he had also nipped me when I trod on him, by accident!. It is now 13 weeks post operation for him with castration and patella surgery. During this time he has not returned to dog day care to allow healing of the leg. We went to stay in France with friends plus both our dogs, who have always been ok but within 24 hours, they had a fight over tennis ball. All these occasions we have split the dogs by throwing water over them. Unfortunately Alfie injured our friends dog by twist or sprain - no puncture wounds or blood. I have lost confidence a little with walking there dog - I accept that I can probably never let him off the lead with other dogs but would like ad vice on how to manage him best on the lead - He generally is a friendly dog- or always has been in the past!

Thank you for this additional information and no worries on the delayed response!

I do think castration was sensible. It can take several months for testosterone levels to fully deplete so it may be some time still until you reap the full rewards. Of course, removing the testosterone is only one piece of the puzzle and training / managing the environment will also be needed.

A complicating factor for Alfie is the recent orthopaedic surgery, which may be making him feel vulnerable. It can take quite some time for dogs to feel 100% and he may still have a slight niggle which is making him more defensive around other dogs. It may be worth having a specialist check him, just to ensure his knee is fully healed and there is no sign of e.g. early arthritis which may benefit from intervention such as anti-inflammatories, physio, hydrotherapy or pain relief. Joint supplements would also be advised if not already something he is taking.

As the tennis ball was a factor, he may well be a dog who guards resources; which is not uncommon. Due to this, when around new or unknown dogs we should have a blanket 'no food, no toys' rule.

I agree it is best to only walk him on lead for now if there are other dogs around; both for him and for them.

Be sure to hold his attention while walking him on lead; this usually means positive reinforcement in the form of praise and treats when he listens to commands such as 'sit' 'heel', 'wait' etc.

We can also make the walks more fun with scenting exercises i.e. dropping treats for him to find and bringing him to places with lots of trees, plants etc to have a good sniff.

As mentioned, a consult from a behaviourist would be sensible as there are a few things going on with Alfie and there has been more than one incident. They will be able to give you more advice on managing him on the lead, as well as more generalised guidance.

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
Ok thank you! I am hoping to contact a behaviourist tomorrow. Do you think walking him with another dog on lead would be good? There is a younger dog that he has met before and might be helpful. During his training ( bronze and silver) g he had no issues at all with other dogs on lead!

I am personally unable to make calls but can continue talking via typing if that is ok.

I think if he enjoys the socialisation and the other dog has good manners and is trustworthy, this is a good idea.

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
Ok thanks

Happy to be able to help.

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