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My 2 y/o shephard/husky/mutt, Aria, has started showing signs of sudden aggression in the last couple months. Before now, she has always disliked confrontation (even would step in when the cats were playing too hard for her liking) and enjoyed playing with other dogs, but now she will show aggression and try to start fights.

It seemed to start after adopting a new dog about 3 months ago. She likes the new dog, a ~2 y/o hound mix, Meryl, and plays well with her. Shortly after getting Meryl, Aria was playing outside and our senior husky tried to play with Aria and it turned into a fight - something that never happened in the year they have been together. Since the fight, Aria will growl and pull towards dogs (usually smaller than her) on walks. When the senior husky wants to play she seems to take it wrong and growls and snarls very aggressively. They are together all day and have no issues otherwise than these random events.

I had her seen by a vet and she suggested a trainer since she was perfectly healthy. The trainer said to give it a little more time to adjust to the new dog. We did and it seemed to get much better where it mostly stopped, but they got into it again tonight - seemingly out of the blue where Aria got mad at both dogs.

We got Meryl to replace Aria's friend that passed at 13 y/o a few months ago, who played very well for her age but much more gently than the new, younger dog. There is no aggression from Meryl, just faster running and more puppy type play.

Does anyone have suggestions? Am I just expecting "perfection" too soon after loss of her friends and the introduction of another dog? She's never shown aggression toward us, other humans or cats.

Thank you!
 

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Have their been any injuries? Does she seem like she's actually trying to hurt the other dogs or does she knock it off fairly quickly? Is there anything that seems to set her off? Proximity to toys? The other dogs barking or chasing each other, running, playing, etc?

I have had dogs that squabbled sometimes- my first multi-dog household often had some squabbles, not surprising since the older dog had been dog-aggressive to other adult dogs since she was one and the second dog we added was very rambunctious. When we first added her there were no problems, but as she grew up the dog aggression of the other dog became an issue, although it did eventually settle down.

Personally, I would seek the help of a behaviorist. It's hard to tell over the internet whether this is just a young dog who wasn't super well socialized and is perhaps being a bit of the "fun police", or if she's maybe resource guarding you/a space/food/toys, or if this might be the start of an ongoing problem, and its always better to be on the more cautious side with aggression cases, especially when they involve dog aggression in a multi dog household and a large dog being the aggressor. I don't know how I feel about the first trainer just recommending you wait it out- yes, it isn't something I would say is an emergency or deadly situation, but there are better options than just do nothing. I would maybe find a different person to work with, given that fairly lackluster suggestion.

I would definitely separate this dog from the others unless you're there to supervise, and keep note of her body language. If she seems like she's edging towards a fight, distract her with something like food or treats.

Is Aria getting enough exercise? Huskies and Sheps can both be fairly high energy dogs prone to developing undesirable behaviors when not adequately exercised.

In terms of growling and pulling towards other dogs- could it be prey drive based? As in, a small moving thing excites the hunter part of her brain? Has she had any issues with small dogs in the past at all, like maybe getting attacked/lunged at/rushed by a smaller dog?
 

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The older husky is a bit of a "fun police" and kind of runs to her in a huff. She doesn't do anything more than trot toward her and give a little yip, but that does set her off. It seems after it happens Aria is a little on edge with her for the next week or two, or until she forgets. My older doc has done this for quite some time, but only started bothering Aria once we got the new dog.

I never thought of it being prey driven with the animals on the walks. I know huskies have issues with cats and smaller animals that dart, like my cats, but Aria has never had interest in them so it never crossed my mind.

My dogs get a long walk each day and plenty of running is done in the yard. I have tried to keep separate toys for each dog and I feel that helped calm her when they played outside together. I do watch them and keep them separated when I'm not home.

I will consult another trainer/behaviorist. I have always got great tips here so I wanted to ask as well. It's so rare that it happens and they are so often well behaved that this happens that it is alarming and I want to change anything for her that might be unsettling her or making her unhappy.

Thank you for your reply!
 
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