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Sudden aggression towards our other dog

by Miki
(Richmond, VA)

Please help, I’m looking for advice. I have two dogs, a 6 yr old neutered male Schnauzer poodle mix (Schorl) and an approximately 5 yr old neutered male Jack Russell (Eddie). Eddie joined our family about 3 1/2 years ago, and Eddie and Schorl have been great companions ever since. However, this past week we had an incident I never imagined happening, Eddie attacked Schorl.

What happened was we had a roommate move in last weekend. We had no issues for the first couple of days, but on the third day I was out and my 13 yr old son was home with the dogs when the new roommate came home. Schorl has a tendency to get very excitable when new people are around, and Eddie sometimes barks at him as if to get him to calm down. But according to my son, this time Eddie just attacked. My son and roommate were able to get them separated, but not before Schorl had some pretty serious injuries on his neck.

The vet at the animal emergency room said it was probably an isolated incident spurred by the stress of having a new person in the house. But yesterday I took Schorl to our regular vet to have the drains and sutures removed, and he was very concerned. He said he’s seen this before, and it looked like Eddie was “going for the kill.” He said that it’s not uncommon in terriers, but if they snap and break that boundary once they are much more likely to do it again and it will only escalate. I didn't want to believe him, but have been taking precautions like keeping Eddie on a lead in the home as well as doubling up on positive reinforcement and distractions. But this afternoon Schorl got excited again and the same scenario started to play out, but this time I had Eddie on a lead so I could stop it immediately.

According to my vet, the best option is to find Eddie a home without any other animals. I’m heartbroken over this. Eddie is my buddy, and when I rescued him I did it knowing full well the commitment a JRT takes. He’s an excellent dog, and has never before show aggression towards Schorl or any of our doggy friends that come over for play dates. He gets plenty of exercise on our half-acre, including fetch daily. And responds to commands well for the most part (better with me than my son).

I've been in tears all day, and I really want to believe that my vet is wrong and we don’t have to say goodbye to this member of our family. Does anyone here have any thoughts, recommendations, or referrals that may be able to help me and Eddie toward rehabilitation? I also understand that my vet may be telling me the unfortunate truth. In your experience with JRT is it true that once they attack another dog, they stay aggressive? I apologize for the long post, and thank you for taking the time to read it. Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

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Feb 20, 2014
Sudden aggression in Jack Russell
by: Sam

So sorry to hear about all your troubles and I think your vet is right that probably the sudden stress might have caused this. Did your vet check to see if there was anything medically going on with Eddie? Sometimes dogs who are suddenly aggressive have some kind of underlying illness. If that is not the case, maybe hiring a pet behaviorist as a last ditch effort (I'm assuming you need the roommate to stay for money purposes otherwise that would be an option as well). I hope everything works out and understand why you are so upset!

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