Need urgent help with predatory behavior!

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Need urgent help with predatory behavior!

This is a discussion on Need urgent help with predatory behavior! within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I'm new here, was looking for advice. I currently have 3 dogs in the house. 2 are mine, 1 belongs to my daughter who had ...

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Old 12-26-2017, 03:39 PM
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Need urgent help with predatory behavior!

I'm new here, was looking for advice.

I currently have 3 dogs in the house. 2 are mine, 1 belongs to my daughter who had moved back in temporarily. Her dog has been with us over a year and typically no problems. Yesterday and today, her dog, Kaya, which is a mid-sized shepherd mix, viciously attacked my small dog, Bella. Bella is a dachshund mix. This is actually the third and 3rd and 4th incident, but it has been a long time between incidents. The first 2 incidents were in succession as well. None of these were over a toy, or food, it just seemed really random. I did some research and I believe discovered that she is of a breed that has what they were calling a "high prey drive." She seemed to have all the behaviors associated with this. We currently have a lot of people at the house and this may be stressing her out, but she seems like she's having fun-she's a high energy dog. With all the extra people at the house, with all the phones, etc, there have been lots of light reflections on the walls and that seems to be some type of trigger for her. She will sit and stare at the wall for hours, trying to find and catch the reflections, and cannot be distracted. Once we got her outside, she somehow dug out of the fence and Bella followed her and as they were running, she literally tore into Bella and was clearly trying to kill her, whipping her around like a rag doll-very scary. We got them separated, but she kept sniffing around the door of the room where Bella was staying and as soon as she got a chance the next day, tore into her again. Very obsessive. Kaya has never bitten a person-she's 3 y/o. She clearly cannot stay with us any longer, but just wondering if she's able to be re-homed or maybe has mental issues (as silly as that sounds) and is not safe. Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 12-26-2017, 10:05 PM
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Unfortunately, there isn't much we can do online to help you. This is a pretty layered issue and requires quite a bit of observation to diagnose, and even then it is not necessarily simple.

I'll say this much. Herding dogs do tend toward a high prey drive and they can be very intense dogs. But, this is almost certainly not predatory behavior. It is virtually unheard of for a herding dog to attack another dog as prey, even a very small one. And, if this were predatory, we would expect the dog to exhibit this behavior consistently, not just rarely and seemingly randomly.

That's one thing that herding dogs are - consistent. Even with their faults, they are frustratingly consistent. Sometimes their behavior is complex and driven by factors that are hard for us to perceive, but they do tend to follow very consistent mental processes that drive their behavior.

So, though we don't yet know what is driving this behavior, the safe bet is that it is based on some consistent set of conditions. Though, it may not be feasible to figure out what subtle cue(s) are setting the dog off.

Unfortunately, the only constant you have is that it happens when these two dogs are together. Since it normally isn't a problem, you don't really have much you can work on.

About the only thing you can do is make sure that all interactions are supervised until you can figure out, more specifically, what the trigger is.

Someone will probably advise you to find a trainer. That's not a terrible idea, but if you can't reproduce the problem, there may not be much a trainer can do.
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Old 12-27-2017, 11:51 AM
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Both dogs are female? Female on female aggression can be really ugly and they may or may not get over it. The sniffing around the door and attacking again is not good.....I've seen that exact same behavior with two of our females. It was one sided aggression. Those two dogs remained separated forever. Not even in the same room together. Yeah there's ways you can try to reintroduce them, but with a big size difference its an accident waiting to happen. Sometimes all it takes is for one female to just give a little growl at the other female, or playfully nip, or some other perceived slight, and its on.
The fixating on a spot on the wall, reflections, shadows etc tends to be neurotic behavior, at least with german shepherds. Could be genetic, or the dog isnt getting enough mental/physical stimulation. Sort of like obsessive tail chasing.
Like the above poster said, theres really no way to tell what set the dog off on the smaller dog without seeing it.
That being said, my wifes black lab will tear into a small breed dog if it runs around her. She's fine with bigger dogs, just something about the small breeds sets her off when they run around her.
She's a good dog in just about every other way though, so we just keep her away from small dogs. For our living situation its just not worth the effort to try to "fix" it.
Dogs get in fights.....some females can remain enemies for life, even if one submits and tries to appease the other, the other may not accept that.
Shepherds like to chase things.....some of them can go into a zone while doing it..... There are technical terms for these things you often hear associated with german shepherds. Clear headedness is one.....like a dog that starts chasing another smaller dog, it goes into that zone, if its not a dog with a clear head, which is genetic, and of varying degrees, it most certainly can progress from just the chase, to the catch, and so forth. Its almost like the dog is so focused on what its doing at that moment it cant control its own impulses. Its impulses overpower its "logical" brain for that time. Of coarse none of this may be the case here.....it really could be as simple as the smaller dog did something to [email protected]@ off the shep mix, and she just wasnt having any of it, and is one of those dogs that just wont forgive the little dog.
Keep in mind also, what does sometimes happen, is the dog everyone thinks is the victim, actually is the one that starts the fights......but the stronger dog finishes it and gets all the blame.
None of this means the dog is bad. It just means more work for the owner, extra management, and limits where and what you can do with the dog.
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