Hi, I now have a really serious problem, My 9 year old ESS, Megan has begun to go into fierce rages for no apparent reason. She is normally a very lovable,sweet affectionate bitch. She has always been Alpha and has never been challenged as she has a certain presence (sp). A couple of weeks ago she flew at one of my sleeping labs for no reason, no biting, just pounced and went straight back to her bed, this happened so fast. She now snarls at me when any of my other dogs come to me for cuddles, and when I am wearing my glasses her eyes shine red and I can see all the details behind her eyes, it is quite frightening. But the worst was when my daughter (26) was talking to my 5 year old lab and lifting a bowl of food, Megan flew at the lab and bit her on the face leaving a deep two inch gash. This is all totally out of character, I have had her since she was 8 weeks old. Any advice please!!! Kay
How long have you had the labs for and how old are they? I am wondering if your dog is suddenly feeling that her Alpha role in the family is threatened. Any time a dog bites on the face, to me that's a sign of dominance aggression and not Rage Syndrome. That's because when dogs correct each other, they bite on the loose jowels on the face, not the neck or arms or whatnot. In addition, you said the bite on the lab occured when when your daughter was holding food. Another warning sign of dominance aggression. I strongly suspect that the ESS thought the lab was usurping her position by getting the food first. Have there been any changes in your household recently? A new dog? Someone moved out? Someone moved in? All of these may be triggered these episodes. For now, I would suggest you be *very* careful with the food around her for the sake of the other dogs. If you need to, feed her in a crate and totally seperate from the other dogs, out of viewing range even. I've read around and scientists who have encountered rage syndrome say that the dog goes into a kind of fugue state and seems somewhat confused and bewildered when they come out of the fits of aggression.
Health problems may be an issue, but she was diagnosed with Mayastinia Gravis at 18months old and I was told she would maybe live till about 3 years old as this disease affects the heart muscles, I am proud to say that I have tried to give her a very normal life and she has lived 5 years longer than Edinburgh Veterinary College expected her to. She has not been speyed as any anaesthetic would also kill her, she has not had pups as ditto. She has been a fantastic foster mother to all my other pups and an older dog who was 4 when she arrived. She has only ever once been in a dog fight and that was with a border collie who attack my 3 year old lab, she went straight in to defend, thankfully she has 99% recall and came away immediately. I cannot think she feels any vulnerability as she has lived and dominated with this for 7 years. I use the word dominated loosely. I her eyesight is still good, she was checked by vet about 3 months ago. I cant have her e-rayed for any tumours as an anaesthetic is a no go area. I dont think she understands, because after her rages, she looks at me as if to say, I didnt really do that did I? I'm sorry. She is normally such a good girl, she still tops a tails my 3 year old lab, who goes to her after drinking water to have her jowls cleaned off. This started when Megan was really ill a couple of years ago and stopped eating and drinking. I had to give her water out of my hand, Penny my black lab was only a year old at the time and went over to the water bowl, took a big mouthfull of water, went back to Megan, opened her mouth and let the water fall over her face, since then Penny has always gone to Megan after drinking water so that Megan can get a drink. Kay
Have you ever heard of "Avalanche of rage syndrome"? It is a known happening on solid colored american cocker spaniels, but because your dog is in the spaniel family, that may be it. Also, I read that ARS (avalanche of rage) lasts for only about a couple of minutes and then stops. If your dog wigging out and then acts perfectly normal a while later? I think that it may be ARS.
If your other dogs are 2 years old that's fairly young, maybe she thinks they'r echallenging her somehow. Certainly it wouldn't hurt to have her checked out by a vet. Have her thyroid checked, I've heard that thyroid problems can sometimes cause behavior problems. I have heard that loss of eyesight can make dogs more aggressive, but you have said she is charging the other dogs to attack. If she was reacting aggressively to the dogs coming up to her, I'd think it was eyesight related. In some cases with some dogs, they just get so they don't like the other dogs, espeically when the dogs are all of the same sex like yours are. Is she showing aggression toward the humans in the family?
Many thanks for all your replies, Sorry but I am slightly emotional at the moment. I do understand that any decision I make will be for the safety of my other dogs, and for the dignity of Megan. Minnyar thanks for the info, have just had a look, and although it looks like Megan symptoms are textbook rage syndrom, the other dogs have been a lot younger and have had behavioural and leadership problems, Megan has had none of those. Megan was the second of two ESS's and when the older one went megan was my sole companion, both dogs worked and I F/T'd Megan until she became too ill to work, then we mock worked at her own pace. When she was 5, Penny arrived, 8 week old black lab. Megan was having a phantom pregnancy and took Penny as her own. Penny is a wimp and has never challenged for Alpha. Emma (yellow lab) was 4 when she came to me. She came from kennels where she was well loved and cared for but was so low down the pecking order that her owner thought she would be better place in a pet home, I offered to take her, she challenged Penny for Beta place and won but has never challenged for Alpha. I have never had any behavioural problems with Megan. As a pup she was so easy to train because she just wanted to please me. Yes she has always been hyper, but she is a Springer. I walk 5 miles, she runs 15. I am sorry to go on, I just need to talk at the moment. Anyway, will go to vet tomorrow and ask for full run of tests, whatever the outcome, my decision will be for Megan. Thanks Kay
Thanks Chili Pepper. Megan is an ESS (English Springer Spaniel). I have read Minnyar's information and although very interesting, I am not sure if it applies to Megan. I have taken on board your thyroid theory tho, I hadnt thought about that. So much going through my brain at the moment. WI really just needed to talk and get some of this emotion out of my system. Will be going to vets to start tests tomorrow. Chili Pepper thanks for your thoughts Kay
Kayc, you can look here for more information on so called 'Rage Syndrome'. It's directly from the English Springer Spaniel club of america site. http://www.essfta.org/Health_Research/aggression.htm which dog has she attacked? The same dog both times?
"Chili, have you ever actually encountered a cocker with Rage Syndrome? Or is this just from what you've heard?" Ok, Minniyar. I rented a book at the library and it was about dog behaviour. It mentioned ARS and explained the symptoms. Please don't look down upon me as if I know nothing about dog behavior or health. Sure, I never went to veterinarian school, but I plan to. Also, I learn about these things from reading, and my breeder. For instance, she will say, "I lost that puppy due to blah". I will ask "What is blah?" And she will tell me.