Rage Syndrome in Dogs

Idiopathic aggression is (thankfully) quite rare, but also quite dangerous.



1. Document your dog’s episodes of unexplainable, explosive aggression so you can describe all the details to a trainer/behaviorist, including all environmental conditions you can think of.

2. Seek the assistance of a qualified, positive dog trainer/behavior consultant. Take your documentation with you on your first visit.

3. Be safe, and be sure others are safe, around your dog.

The term “rage syndrome” conjures up mental images of Cujo, Stephen King’s fictional rabid dog, terrorizing the countryside. If you’re owner of a dog who suffers from it, it’s almost that bad – never knowing when your beloved pal is going to turn, without warning, into a biting, raging canine tornado.

The condition commonly known as rage syndrome is actually more appropriately called “idiopathic aggression.” The definition of idiopathic is: “Of, relating to, or designating a disease having no known cause.” It applies perfectly to this behavior, which has confounded behaviorists for decades. While most other types of aggression can be modified and reduced through desensitization and counter-conditioning, idiopathic aggression often can’t. It is an extremely difficult and heartbreaking condition to deal with.

The earmarks of idiopathic aggression include:

• No identifiable trigger stimulus/stimuli

• Intense, explosive aggression

• Onset most commonly reported in dogs 1-3 years old

• Some owners report that their dogs get a glazed, or “possessed” look in their eyes just prior to an idiopathic outburst, or act confused.

• Certain breeds seem more prone to suffer from rage syndrome, including Cocker and Springer Spaniels (hence the once-common terms – Spaniel rage, Cocker rage, and Springer rage), Bernese Mountain Dogs, St. Bernards, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, and Lhasa Apsos. This would suggest a likely genetic component to the problem.

The Good News About Rage Syndrome

The good news is that true idiopathic aggression is also a particularly uncommon condition. Discussed and studied widely in the 1970s and ’80s, it captured the imagination of the dog world, and soon every dog with episodes of sudden, explosive aggression was tagged with the unfortunate “rage syndrome” label, especially if it was a spaniel of any type. We have since come to our senses, and now investigate much more carefully before concluding that there is truly “no known cause” for a dog’s aggression.

A thorough exploration of the dog’s behavior history and owner’s observations often can ferret out explainable causes for the aggression. The appropriate diagnosis often turns out to be status-related aggression (once widely known as “dominance aggression”) and/or resource guarding – both of which can also generate very violent, explosive reactions. (See “Eliminate Aggressive Dog Guarding Behaviors,” WDJ September 2001.)

An owner can easily miss her dog’s warning signs prior to a status-related attack, especially if the warning signs have been suppressed by prior physical or verbal punishment. While some dogs’ lists of guardable resources may be limited and precise, with others it can be difficult to identify and recognize a resource that a dog has determined to be valuable and worth guarding. The glazed look reported by some owners may also be their interpretation of the “hard stare” or “freeze” that many dogs give as a warning signal just prior to an attack.

Although the true cause of idiopathic aggression is still not understood, and behaviorists each tend to defend their favorite theories, there is universal agreement that it is a very rare condition, and one that is extremely difficult to treat.

Idiopathic Aggression Theories

A variety of studies and testing over the past 30 years have failed to produce a clear cause or a definitive diagnosis for idiopathic aggression. Behaviorists can’t even agree on what to call it! (See The Evolving Vocabulary of Aggression, below.)

Given the failure to find a specific cause, it is quite possible that there are several different causes for unexplainable aggressive behaviors that are all grouped under the term “idiopathic aggression.” Some dogs in the midst of an episode may foam at the mouth and twitch, which could be an indication of epileptic seizures. The most common appearance of the behavior between 1-3 years of age also coincides with the appearance of most status-related aggression, as well as the development of idiopathic epilepsy, making it even impossible to use age of onset as a differential diagnosis.

Some researchers have found abnormal electroencephalogram readings in some dogs suspected of having idiopathic aggression, but not all such dogs they studied. Other researchers have been unable to reproduce even those inconclusive results.

Another theory is that the behavior is caused by damage to the area of the brain responsible for aggressive behavior. Yet another is that it is actually a manifestation of status-related aggression triggered by very subtle stimuli. Clearly, we just don’t know.

The fact that idiopathic aggression by definition cannot be induced also makes it difficult to study and even try to find answers to the question of cause. Unlike a behavior like resource guarding – which is easy to induce and therefore easy to study in a clinical setting – the very nature of idiopathic aggression dictates that it cannot be reproduced or studied at will.

Rage Syndrome Treatment

Without knowing the cause of idiopathic aggression, treatment is difficult and frequently unsuccessful. The condition is also virtually impossible to manage safely because of the sheer unpredictability of the outbursts. The prognosis, unfortunately, is very poor, and many dogs with true idiopathic aggression must be euthanized, for the safety of surrounding humans.

Don’t despair, however, if someone has told you your dog has “rage syndrome.” First of all, he probably doesn’t. Remember, the condition is extremely rare, and the label still gets applies all too often by uneducated dog folk to canines whose aggressive behaviors are perfectly explainable by a more knowledgeable observer.

Your first step is to find a skilled and positive trainer/behavior consultant who can give you a more educated analysis of your dog’s aggression. A good behavior modification program, applied by a committed owner in consultation with a capable behavior professional can succeed in decreasing and/or resolving many aggression cases, and help you devise appropriate management plans where necessary, to keep family members, friends, and visitors safe.

If your behavior professional also believes that you have a rare case of idiopathic aggression on your hands, then a trip to a veterinary behaviorist is in order. Some dogs will respond to drug therapies for this condition; many will not. Some minor success has been reported with the administration of phenobarbital, but it is unclear as to whether the results are from the sedative effect of the drug, or if there is an actual therapeutic effect.

In many cases of true idiopathic aggression, euthanasia is the only solution. Because the aggressive explosions are truly violent and totally unpredictable, it is neither safe nor fair to expose yourself or other friends and family to the potentially disfiguring, even deadly, results of such an attack. If this is the sad conclusion in the case of your dog, euthanasia is the only humane option. Comfort yourself with the knowledge you have done everything possible for him, hold him close as you say goodbye, and send him gently to a safer place. Then take good care of yourself.

The Evolving Vocabulary of Aggression

Different behaviorists and trainers have used and continue to use different terms for what was once commonly known as “rage syndrome.” The confusion over what to call it is a reflection of how poorly understood the condition is:

Rage syndrome – This once popular term has fallen into disfavor, due to its overuse, misuse, and poor characterization of the actual condition

Idiopathic aggression – Now the most popular term among behaviorists; this name clearly says “we don’t know what it is”

Low-threshold dominance aggression – Favored by those who hold that idiopathic aggression is actually a manifestation of status-related aggression with very subtle triggers

Mental lapse aggression syndrome – Attached to cases diagnosed as a result of certain electroencephalogram readings (low-voltage, fast activity)

Stimulus responsive psychomotor epilepsy – Favored by some who suspect that idiopathic aggression is actually epileptic seizure activity

“Rage syndrome” is not the only aggression term that has undergone a metamorphosis in recent years. Even the way we look at aggression is changing. Where once each “classification” of aggression was seen as very distinct, with its own distinct protocols for treatment, it is becoming more widely recognized that most aggressive behavior is caused by stress or anxiety.

It is now generally accepted by the training and behavior profession that physical punishment should not be used in an attempt to suppress aggressive behavior. Rather, aggressive behavior is best managed by preventing the dog’s exposure to his individual stressors, and modified by creating a structured environment for the dog – through a “Say Please” or “Nothing in Life Is Free” program – and implementing a solid protocol of counter-conditioning and desensitization to reduce or eliminate the dog’s aggressive reaction to those stressors.

We also now recognize that aggressive dogs may behave inappropriately and dangerously as a result of imbalances in brain chemicals, and that the new generation of drugs used in behavior modification work help rebalance those chemicals. This is in stark contrast to older drugs, such as Valium, that simply sedated the dog rather than providing any real therapy. As a result, many behaviorists recommend the use of pharmaceutical intervention sooner, rather than later, in aggression cases.

Here are some of the newer terms now in use to describe various types of aggressive behavior:

Status-related aggression: Once called dominance aggression, a term still widely used. Status-related aggression focuses more on getting the confident highranking dog to behave appropriately regardless of status; old methods of dealing with dominance aggression often focused on trying to reduce the dog’s status, often without success.

Fear-related aggression: Once called submission aggression. A dog who is fearful may display deferent (submissive) behaviors in an attempt to ward off the fearinducing stress. If those signals are ignored and the threat advances – a child, for example, trying to hug a dog who is backing away, ears flattened – aggression can occur.

Possession aggression: Previously referred to as food guarding and now also appropriately called resource guarding, this name change acknowledges that a dog may guard many objects in addition to his food – anything he considers a valuable resource, including but not limited to toys, beds, desirable locations, and proximity to humans.

Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, is WDJ’s Training Editor. She is also author of The Power of Positive Dog Training, and Positive Perspectives: Love Your Dog, Train Your Dog.

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WDJ's Training Editor Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, grew up in a family that was blessed with lots of animal companions: dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, goats, and more, and has maintained that model ever since. She spent the first 20 years of her professional life working at the Marin Humane Society in Marin County, California, for most of that time as a humane officer and director of operations. She continually studied the art and science of dog training and behavior during that time, and in 1996, left MHS to start her own training and behavior business, Peaceable Paws. Pat has earned a number of titles from various training organizations, including Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). She also founded Peaceable Paws Academies for teaching and credentialing dog training and behavior professionals, who can earn "Pat Miller Certified Trainer" certifications. She and her husband Paul and an ever-changing number of dogs, horses, and other animal companions live on their 80-acre farm in Fairplay, Maryland.



  2. Thank you Sassa! I have a German Shepherd that I inherited when my Mom passed. When she was living with my Mom she 2as fine but very high strung. She had always lived with one other dog and was very submissive. When Mom died and I brought the dog home to my 4 other dogs she was OK after a week. She got on well with them well here it is 6 monthes later and she has developed some serious aggression towards one of our old dogs with authritis and has also attacked the alpha dog. When she attacks she is out for blood. She attacks any time she gts excited which could be a dog barking, a person walking their dog outside or whenever my husband or I come home. It has gotten so bad that we are teying to find a home for her where she will be the only dog. She is gine with cats after a long slow introduction, but woulfd not teust her with other dogs at all.

  3. I put down my 18 month old English Bull Terrier and am absolute heartbroken. I am a trainer and thought I could correct this problem. He was always OCD but then he started attacking his leash very violently while making high pitched screaming sounds. I have never seen anything like that. I took him back to the breeder for a few days they recommended some very strict adjustments which I made and I thought they may have been helpful but didn’t. I tried medications more redirecting but his world seemed to get smaller he started sleeping away from his usual place and his episodes became more frequent.. I loved that dog. he attacked gardening gloves my wife was putting on, he couldn’t see me swinging an imaginary golf club without wanting to attack. This started at around 8 months and grew worse. I hope no one has to go through that experience. Heartbroken

  4. hi im khloe and im 10 years old. my family got a Australian Shepard/border collie mix about 7 months ago. He was nippy as a little puppy, which almost all puppies are. But as he’s gotten much bigger and stronger, he loves to bite our other 5 year old mini schnauzer around his face. Also, he likes to go to my room and jump up on the bed. from there, he’ll run back and forth on it like a cheetah and bite you if you get within an inch to him. my whole family has at least one bite mark from him. we love him, but are afraid we might have to take him to a no-kill shelter. We are hoping that once we get him “snip-snipped” he’ll calm down more. but just as more proof he’ll get what we like to call “crazy eyes” his pupils get smaller and more insane look and he’ll just run around insanely until we get a chance to let him outside. finally, at the bottom of our yard, there used to be grass but now its just completely dirt! no joke, its from where he’ll chase after a vehicle or person while they walk or drive by and he is VERY fast. please help, we need some advice!

  5. Khloe do you take your dog for regular walks? Making sure he gets at least 20 minutes of exercise every day and neutering will both greatly alleviate his aggression.

  6. I adopted a 6 yr old Austrailian Shepard/ German Shepard mix 6 months ago. He had been chained outside all his life and badly abused. He had never been in a house or had any training. He’s intelligent, took to training well, loves to please me, is by nature affectionate and friendly. We meet a lot of people on our walks and he is interested in everyone and their dogs. I’ve never heard him even growl at anyone, an energetic but not aggressive dog. He has attacked me twice with no warning. As soon as he comes back to reality he is ashamed. The 2nd attack was 3 days ago and every day since he wants to sniff my wound and give me kisses. Even today he is worried and attentive. I am heartsick that I will likely have to have this beautiful, intelligent loving dog destroyed.

  7. Hi Carolyn- I hope you seek a professional qualified trainer first. Also a vet visit- as there could be an underlying medical reason for this type of behavior as well. Best of luck to you !

  8. Thanks Bernie. I have done both of those and now have a call in to a vet that does a combination of training and medication. But if I describe the behavior in a phone message I often don’t receive a call back. It’s considered not amenable to change by training. There has been little research done on what they call “idiopathic agression.” With Ravi it’s like a PTSD reaction where in that moment he doesn’t know I’m not his abuser and his reaction is out of his own control.

  9. I have a 5 year old Pitt that I adopted from the Dog Pound at 4 months old, who for 6 months now, out of the blue started to viciously attack me, even to the point of a Hospital ED visit. His normal personality is sweet sweet sweet loving me ,other dogs, other animals and people in general. He will suddenly get a glazed over look and lunges for my throat like he’s possessed or rabid . I have to suddenly grab his collar and hold on strong, of course he is biting me all over my forearms . He even bites and shakes his head like a kill move. These are sudden and unpredictable episodes. Nothing triggers these, we can be watching TV him all curled up and I hear a low grawl so I now he’s fixing to lunge giving me only time enough to grab his collar. Last night he was totally asleep curled up next to me in bed when I heard him grawl sure enough he lounged for me biting me 5 times before the episode stopped. Once he comes out of this vicious rage of trying to kill me, he is his sweet loving self trying to lick my wounds. Last night he had 7 episodes and I was able to put a muzzle on him which he wore all night. I’ve been to the Vet she put him on Seizure Meds which he’s been on 1 month , I’ve taken him to a behaviorist trainer he said it was not a behavior problem it was a medical problem so he would not work with him. I am desperately trying not to put this fur baby down but my options seem to be running out. Has anyone had this severe type of trouble and what did you do. I need some great advice. My arms are black and blue with multiple tears on both forearms and hands. Need help

  10. Please,please have your dog pts. He could v easily kill you,he is big and strong . It’s hard I know but you really have to be strong about this. Best of luck ,I am so sorry.

  11. 20 minutes? A dog like that needs a 45 minute walk daily and /or a job or task or something like agility training to exhaust his mind and body. Her description of him sounds like he has an enormous amount of energy to burn. Those breeds were bred to work, and work hard.

  12. Oh my word. I really feel for you but you haven’t said whether the epilepsy meds have stopped the attacking yet. I have a Bichon Frise that we have looked after off and on since he was a puppy for the elderly owner when he had to go into hospital or on holiday. He is now 7 and I have had him approximately 10 months. 4 months ago he was sound asleep in his bed when he suddenly shot out and bit my leg which bled very badly. He went off and was staying away from me. Since then he has bitten 3 other people but they had accidentally stepped on his foot. I was upset but put that down to shock. My friend was staying with us and had got up and was sitting in the chair with the duvet wrapped around her and he was sleeping on her bedcon the floor when he suddenly shot across and attacked her. The duvet prevented any injury thankfully. Last night in the space of an hour he again was asleep when he suddenly bit me twice. Luckily he did not penetrate my skin due to the thick leggings I had on. I hatectobsay this becausevhe has been such a loving and loyal dog who sits next to me and follows me everywhere. When i had the first bad bite I discussed it with the vet who could give me no advice at all. We have decided today that we cannot allow it to carry on as I am diabetic and have very swollen legs from Lymphedema and next time it could be bad and I could get an ulcer. I feel like poop but we can’t go on. I have had him on some herbal meds from Lintbells called Yucalm which helps with anxiety and stress etc but that has not helped him. He keeps whimpering lately. That makes me feel worse. I am sure I will be criticised for our decision but we have to consider the safety of our grandchildren and other people as much as ourselves. I cannot take him but my husband isvgoing to take him this afternoon.

  13. Thank you so much for this article. My family and I rescued a puppy and got him at 10 weeks old. He’s a boxer, hound, Great Pyrenees mix. He’s been a great dog, loving and very well behaved for the most part until he turned two this past August. he bit one of my son’s friends in the face causing him to need six stitches. He then just recently ran out of his fence and went after another dog. he bit the dog but thank God, she is ok. The next day, he tried to bite my seven year old in the face, and one day after, he bit me in the face and I wasn’t even kneeling down over him. We are all ok but more traumatized and upset this is happening. All if his symptoms and aggressions fit the definition of Rage syndrome. His eyes glaze over and his face is different. It’s almost like he is possessed. There are barely any warning signs. I know we absolutely cannot rehome him and need to make a difficult decision to put him down. We are heart broken. 🙁

  14. THANK YOU! I have a Jack Russel Terrier –when I got him I was warned: “he is crazy,we will waive the adoption fees.” “Oh, they just don’t understand JRTs” was my thought to myself.
    Single woman, no kids –I was on a mission.
    He had severe food aggression –we worked through that (ish) many many months of hand feeding and petting and talking to him while he ate.
    Random LOUD excessive barking –some what controlled.–okay not at all.
    Peeing/marking everywhere all the time. –a lot better (we only let him in 1/2 the house and limit his water intake ) .
    All along he has had aggressiion
    — full on attacked me during a storm
    – gets aggressive “protecting” things like garbage can
    – wakes himself up in full on attack mode.
    since i first adopted him, I got married and having an “alpha” (hubby) in the house, JRT’s behavior got a lilttle better.
    We both have been bitten (hands) pretty bad –open puncture wounds.
    I work at home, dog falls asleep in my office +wakes up and full on attacks me. (random)
    -he’s been on prosac/CBD/and trainers.
    “he needs more exersize” no, he needs to be exorcised –we live on a lake –and are active family –he runs and paddleboards, swims etc. we have a large fenced yard, we have another dog and they wrestle all the time.
    Our vet acknowledges we have done ABOVE and beyond. I am in a classic abusive relationship with this dog. He is so cute I can’t stand it. He’s my “circus dog” and is so smart and curious and funny. The attack happens, my shoes/socks are ruined from his teeth and then he gets my ankle and bites me until there is blood. “Sorry?” do canines feel human emotions? I don’t know, but he definitely looks out of sorts when he “comes back” into his own self. After my adrenaline has run its course, I’ve cleaned puncture wounds, bandaged hand/foot etc… made some hot tea –I feel love for this holy-hell white terror. We have toddler grand-kids –should I wait until the JRT bites their faces? I made an appointment for him tomorrow. After reading these many comments –I know it’s the right thing to do. For the love of Mike, just like an abusive relationship , “why doesn’t the woman simply LEAVE?” well, folks this girl is “leaving” and by “leaving” I mean the dog is.

  15. (it’s me again) –we put him ‘down’ yesterday –best thing I’ve done in a long long while –peace + serenity floated into our home (immediately). I had a moment of: “I wished I did this a long time ago.” But, I wasn’t ready …. anyone out there who has an severely aggressive dog –I HIGHLY recommend you put him/her down… no dog deserves to live in that mental hell, nor do you.

  16. Very interesting
    I am completely lost
    She woke barked
    Then screamed like a pig, ran up stairs
    Next thing it’s taking 3 of us to in lock her off my other dog
    I dragged her away and hugged her
    Eyes was black
    Freeked out and shaking
    But also wanted to get him again x

  17. I went through the same exact thing with my English Bull Terrier and it crushed me. She was around the same age as yours,18 months. Very sorry for your loss.

  18. Weve got a husky we rescued from the shelter, a medium sized one but obviously still big. Hes attacked me three times, and today makes the fourth. Weve been keeping me and him separate. I needed to go maybe 3 steps to get to the bathroom door, with a crutch in hand for protection, but he still ran down the hall and attempted to attack me and once i hopped back in the bedroom he was bashing himself into the door. The first attack was a big puncture. Medics came out but since i didnt need stiches i didnt go to the hospital. The second time he got smaller, but still scarring, bites on both hands. I used a kitchen chair to back him up that time. Third time I was expecting it and had the chair before he made contact. The problem is i love this dog. The owners before kept him outside, he hopped their 9 foot fence to get free. (3 times). I seriously dont know what to do about him anymore.. Everytime hes attacked me someone else grabs him and he doesn’t attack them. At the beginning he did as i told him, like sit before going outside. He still listens but refuses to stay and will instead charge.

  19. Mr tips my beloved belgium cross attacks m ,mostly on hands, probably my fault, but now I’m terrified and tho been trying to cope he almost came at me again this a.m

  20. We have 2 corgis, 6 months apart in age, younger is male, both are fixed.
    As soon as our younger turned one year, almost right to the day, he became aggressive. He would suddenly lunge on leash at any other dog he saw and cars as they passed, other people walking on the same side of the street. If he couldn’t get to them he would start a fight with our other one or turn and bite us. The same time this behavior started, he started attacking us at night. They both always slept in bed with us once potty trained. It would happen if we moved near him, sometimes even if we didn’t. It then started happening during the day, he would be napping on the couch and then suddenly come barreling at us. It’s been to the point we have to literally kick him off the bed and then stay up where he can’t get to us, and hopefully our other dog. His attacks will last a couple minutes and his eyes get black and then just as suddenly as the light goes out it comes back on and he comes up and nestles into you and gives kisses and goes right back to sleep

  21. HELP!

    I adopted a sharpei german short hair pointer from the shelter going on three years now.
    He is a great dog. I love him to death and he goes with me practicly EVERYWHERE.

    What am I doing wrong?!?!

    Lucius can be the sweetest most loving dog in the entire world , but he gets these . . . I cant even say moods . . . But it’s like a switch flips and it’s on. My boyfriend and I currently have 5 dogs. It’s a lot I know.

    He plays with all of them and is super social. Hes is very high energy and loves to run, so that’s exactly what he does. Runs and plays with no problem. But then theres that moment where he doesnt look right and then hes out for blood. Like I said it’s like a switch has flipped and theres no stopping it. Theres been times where I’ve had to throw myself on top of him and hold him down in the dirt until he stops attacking another dog. (They are all females)
    And he knows hes done wrong.

    It’s with any dog and any amount of canines in a group.

    I took him over to my moms house when I first got him and him and her dog were absolute friends. And then a fight broke out and it was a blood bath.
    Akita vs sharpei

    But after words he was in her face trying to play. Now a year later (this just recently happened) I take him over there and he avoids her like the plague and she comes over to say high and his eyes are crazy and then he attacks.
    Nothing else has happened. That fight was close to almost a year now.

    Take in mind that when he was like 3 4 months old he would lunge and try to attack any dog he saw. Including people!

    Hes seriously two dogs in one amd I dont know what to do and how to stop it before something bad happens.

    I’m writing this now after the exact same thing just happened with him and my german shepard husky mix.
    He acts like he hates her but then the next minute he is playing with her sleeping with her ect.

    I dont want to get rid of him, it would break my heart. There for a while it was so bad with his sister , i got her around the same time I first adopted him, i went out and bought a cage muzzle. I went so far to try training him with a shock collar. . . I now came across this thread. And I’m so desperate. He does it to people as well. I work at an animal shelter so he comes with me everyday. My coworker who he has known for a year now was lunged at and nearly took her leg off. For absolulty 0 reason. I’m desperate for answers. I’ve owned many breeds and I’ve never experienced this

  22. Two days ago I witnessed an unprovoked attack on my 6 year old lab-Xena by my sons 3 year old silver lab-Yoda. It was the most terrifying thing I have ever seen. Pure violent rage. If I would not have pulled him off of her she would be dead.

    It started when Xena, who had just pulled a muscle jumping up to chase after a stick, got up and started to yip in pain. Yoda flipped out and attacked her. Her cries got louder as he attacked which only added to his fury. She will be okay. My back may be another story.

    Yoda was rescued by my son around 18 months ago. Yoda lived in a home with 4 large male dogs, One of the dogs attacked another and killed it. We were told they did not know which dog did it. (I find that hard to believe} Regardless my son had a bond with Yoda while he was working there. He agreed to take him.

    Our first thoughts were to have him put down. Not out of anger but fear of what could happen in the future. I have grown to love this big ol fellow and he so sweet and loving. It is breaking my heart to send him to a no kill shelter. But I simply do not trust him.

    Reading the other comments has been helpful. I wish all of you peaceful solutions.

  23. Hi guys!
    Hopefully someone can give me an advice !

    We have gotten a goldendoodle from a breeder about 1.5 years ago.
    However, at 3 months, our dog started showing possessive behavior with his bones.
    We’ve taken him to a trainer, and her techniques of showing “alpha” hasn’t helped.

    Over the course, between 3months And now to 1.5 years old. He shows signs of random rage aggression.

    We’ve decided to not give up on him and take him to another trainer.
    The trainer did not really help except to teach him how to walk. He’s tried to teach our dog to avoid food possession, toy possession or anything of that sort. He seems to always fight us on possessiveness and WILL attack us while trying to discipline.

    My boyfriend has gotten bit, white flesh, bruises, the whole 9 about 6 times in the span of having him. I have gotten bit 3 times.

    It feels wrong that I feel like I am giving him on him if I put him for adoption or euthanize him.

    However, another story.
    He will run to either of us, and ask to be petted/rubbed and randomly get into rage attack mode; so unpredictable!!!

    Sometimes, you can predict that he will get into attack mode from his eyes; orange glare.

    I can’t seem to understand him.

    One minutes he seems to trust us and love us, and then act like we are outsiders and show aggression towards us.

    I don’t know what to do.
    What’s the right thing to do ?
    There’s only so much amount of money we can spend on finding people and solutions.

    To be honest, we both do not trust him.
    We just do not know when he will have a sudden rage, attack mode or what not.

    Every time we want to pet him, we will do it for 3 seconds and take a step back to make sure he’s not snarling or showing signs of aggression…

    I am so torn and Disappointed.

  24. I am currently going though the same thing with my doberman pincher. Currently, he is 18 month old. The behavior started at about 11 months of age. These past 2 1/2 months it has gotten worse. Vet says its “the breed.” Professional dog trainer agrees with us that we are not the right fit. Breeder says mom and dad are “sweet and mellow” with others. For the past month, the trainer, breeder and myself have been looking for the right home for him. I cry every time the world euthanization comes to mind.

    Thank you both for sharing your story.d

  25. I adopted a bonded pair four years ago. The younger is Bichon Frise and the older Shitzu. The younger has started attacking the older. Last night the younger dog was on the sofa with me. I could hear this low growl and then she suddenly leaped on the older dog.
    I have seen her get this look on her face when there is food involved. This time I couldn’t see any food on the floor. The older dog had his back to us.

    She was attacked at the little dog park on Sunday–no damage when she started barking at a collie type dog. I comforted her at the time. I don’t know the two situations are related or not.

  26. I have a 3 year old Airedale terrier, who is very mellow 99% of the time. However when she’s sees a cat, or certain dogs she doesn’t like, she gets crazy and wants to bite anything around her. Any suggestions to help break this habit?

  27. I bought a chi and he was so cute little when he was born .showed no signs of Aggression after he had his shots totally not same dog.snapping at me lungeing .that look in his eyes scarey but he doesnt do it to my roomate.weird

  28. We have 5 rescue chis, one is a terrier-chi mix. He’s older, his eyes are cloudy, in the last year or so, he’s been waking up, startled and starts attacking the others. He’s grumpy. Been to the vet and he’s ok. Do we go the euthanize him? I don’t want him to hurt the others. Only history was he’s been a stray a few times in LA, CA. Help!

  29. I’ve recently experienced exactly this with mine and ended up having to put him down because I ended up with a broken/shattered right wrist and a severed tendon in my left hand/arm, along with several deep bite wounds requiring several stitches in both arms. I tried medication and behavior therapy prior to this after he attacked my bf, who he loves, suddenly, unprovoked and out of the blue. I am still devastated about it because otherwise he was the sweetest little baby ever, normally.

  30. It is not a failure to put your dog to sleep. Repeat this to yourself as often as you need. These dogs who are attacking, they are not having good lives, they are not happy. Their brains are not working right, and when these episodes happen it is horrific for them. The kindest thing you can do is release them from their pain before they do something catastrophic to you, a child, or another pet. If you feel guilty, they go adopt a pet who needs a home in their memory.

  31. We adopted our first Rescue 5 months ago. He is a Shi Tzu mix 4 years old and only has one eye as the other had to be removed. He as very shy and sweet when we first got him and we fell in love with him. Over time he has gotten very aggressive, mostly attacking me when I get too close to my husband who he has really bonded with. But, he will also try to go after my husband for no known reason but my husband is able to control him. I on the other hand, have bruises and bite marks in several places. We started using a water spray bottle for my protection which I carry everywhere I go in the house. He just seems to instantly go crazy! The only history we have on him is that he was found on the street with a bad looking eye which was removed. Then adopted by a family that had him over a year before giving him up. I’ve talked to the previous owners and they told me the same thing the more comfortable he was with them, the more aggressive he would become. I’m not worried about him biting a stranger as he’s really shy with others. We have a dog trainer set up to help us in a couple of weeks. We hope there’s hope for him but are afraid he may have brain damage. We wouldn’t give him up as we know he would do the same with yet another family so would just have to put him down. This has been do upsetting.😥

  32. I have an ebt of 2.5yrs who is an amazing dog, but very sporadically will freeze in place his eyes go black and he lsshes out! 2 seconds later he’s normal again, have spent hours researching, talking to my vets etc as there is no trigger at all to this sudden lash out.
    We’re lucky we can spot the signs before it happen but you get maybe 3 seconds max before he lunges at your feet.

  33. The same attacks happened with my 3 year old boxer. Thank god my family was around to help me. It happened 3 times the first I was shocked the second when my Boston dog barked . We got him neutered but that did not help. The third attack was very aggressive and we put him down. Sadly he was perfect until the switch was changed and the attack mode set in. I started to fear him so putting him down was the only solution.

  34. Thank you for this comment. I have a registered chocolate lab that is trained for hunting. He had always seen me as the weakest link and will attack me anytime I go outside, grabbing clothes and pulling me to ground. Today he grabbed me, pulled me in yard and tore several places in my shirt and bit me near my collar bone. This is the last straw. I have osteoporosis and 115 lbs. he knows he can overpower me. I hate to do this but I think we’re going to have to euthanize He cannot be rehome and we have tried every kind of training our there

  35. My sweet milo allways very territorial with toys or anything he wasn’t supposed to have. But last night he attacked me for no reason punctured my skin in 2 different spots and my whole arm is swollen. We had to take him to the vet and have them quarantine him. ALSO WE SURRENDERED HIM INSTEAD OF KILLING HIM HE WILL GET HELP AND GO TO ANOTHER PLACE. my kids and I are super sad but I cant take the chance of him attacking them 2when I’m gone.

  36. hi i am having the same problem with my pit bull he just turned 1 & on christmas morning he slept on my floor which is off because he always sleeps with me & i went to pick him up to put him in my bed and he growled so i pulled away and he full on attacked me on his back legs clawing and showing his teeth growling chasing me through my whole house. what should i do i just can’t put him down

  37. hi i am having the same problem with my pit bull he just turned 1 & on christmas morning he slept on my floor which is off because he always sleeps with me & i went to pick him up to put him in my bed and he growled so i pulled away and he full on attacked me on his back legs clawing and showing his teeth growling chasing me through my whole house. what should i do i just can’t put him down

  38. Hello everyone,

    I have a 3 years old GSD. We had since he was a puppy. He is very aggressive towards other animals. He had attacked two dogs, one almost killing it. Couple of days ago it attacked my 14 year old daughter requiring us to go to the hospital no stitches. According to my daughter the dog was lying next to her. She was rubbing his head. My daughter decided to go to bed and leaned forward to give him a kiss which she has done a hundred times that’s when he attacked her. It wasn’t just a Oops attack I’m sorry , it was an attack in which my daughter had to cover her face with her hands.
    Yes there were lots blood on her face. I am devastated, mad, sad and heartbroken. I love this dog and so does my daughter. She stills love him after what he did. In three days we have to put him down. I love him but I can’t trust him anymore. I am so sad. He is so loving.
    Very smart. If he has this disease or not, I can not trust him. Attacking a human let alone my daughter.

  39. Oakland Ca rescue has a chihuahua right now that attacks its self violently, had to amputate his tail. They are trying to save it.

  40. I have a 6 year old chihuahua, min pin
    And he has these symptoms. Out of no where and his eyes change and he looks like cujo. He has bitten me multiple times and once bad enough I had to go to get medical attention. I don’t have the heart to put him down and I know I can’t give him away. He came from an abusive situation I found out after I rescued him from a private owner that failed to mention these problems and just mysteriously didn’t answer her phone after I did find out his behavior. Well, a year now and lots of patience, pain and tears and lots of prayer. He’s doing much much better and only occasionally does he “snap” but tonight I was talking with the Lord on this and we we’re discussing the fact that my dog is microchipped. Put it this way,
    I’m getting it removed. ASAP
    Prayers go out to anyone that is going through the process of helping a furbaby through this. It’s just horrible on both ends. But their worth it, to me anyways. It’s not their fault. And it’s a life! 💖 Love & Blessings

  41. I really am feeling the pain from all of you. I have a 2 year old Blackmouth Cur who we adopted from a shelter 2 years ago. She is such a sweetie but last week she was lying on his lap when she lunged at my 13 year old son biting him on the face and causing him to go to the hospital and get stitches. She has had numerous split second biting incidents and then all of a sudden she is fine. She is very attached to me and follows me everywhere and loves the family but her unpredictability now scares me for others. We are taking her back to the shelter even though it breaks our heart because we all still love her.

  42. I feel so sad for all of you. I had a miniature English bully some years ago. At 6 months she started randomly attacking, just like you’ve all described. We went back to the breeder, we tried training, we bought in dog psychologists……we did all we could! The vet said “are you enjoying this dog?” No, we were in a constant state of anxiety, because we didn’t know who or what her next victim would be! We loved this puppy with a passion. We wouldn’t rehome her, because she was dangerous and we couldn’t risk anyone else getting hurt. We chose to put us all out of our misery and have her put to sleep. I kissed her sweet peaceful face, and said goodbye.
    Please don’t risk serious injury by prolonging the inevitable. This is not curable.

  43. I have a one year old English Retriever that we got from a breeder. We knew right away at 8 weeks old that he was aggressive and we immediately sought training. The aggression transpires mostly from non-specific resource guarding. He doesn’t guard food or toys, we can easily take those from him. He guards things that aren’t his that he knows he shouldn’t have. But it’s not always predictable. Training was helpful in the puppy stage (sit, stay, come, no) but not at all for the aggression because he never showed the trainer the behavior. We tried to replicate it, he would never take the bait. The aggression continued and we worked with a Vet Behaviorilist. We tried a form of prozac. We worked with a different trainer who also couldn’t replicate it. Over the 10 months we’ve had him, he’s bitten my husband and I three times. None required stitches. It’s the same description most of these posts say: he goes into an unexpected rage, growls, lunges, snarls, bites. Also as if possessed. We came up with a protocol for living with him. He wears a house leash at all times unless he’s asleep (which he does perfectly, by the way) and we work the situations like this:
    1. Try not to let him get items that could trigger this behavior
    2. If he gets an item and is guarding it, decide if it is 100% necessary to take the item from him
    3. Trade a treat for the item.
    4. Show him who is in charge verbally, tell him “no” and to “leave it”

    Sometimes none of these work and we end up with the situation that happened last week where he was angry I was telling him “no” and to “leave it” and he came after me and jumped on me. I was able to block him the first time but the second time he got my inner forearm. I was wearing three layers: a long sleeve shirt, a fleece and a heavy down coat as I was getting ready to leave when it happened. Had I not had these layers on I’m not sure what the outcome would have been. I have a half moon of teeth marks and a huge bruise all around the bite.

    Like most who left comments here I love this dog. While he has never enjoyed being petted, or loved sometimes he does and it’s wonderful. He’s challenging on a daily basis and we’ve been living with it and making excuses for it. Not that I need people, friend or neighbors to believe me, but no one ever does. Even the trainers at first are like, “this dog does that? ” He’s a stunning animal, not a breed that is known for this behavior, he appears happy and playful and is perfect around other dogs. This behavior is only shown to people, and so far, just our family. As this dog was not a rescue and as this behavior started at 8 weeks (when we got him) we assume his issues are genetic. I don’t trust our breeder. I don’t want to give him back to them as I believe they will breed him (he’s again, stunning), abuse and eventually put him down) I spoke to the Retriever rescue where I live as well as both of his old trainers. All three said sadly he likely needs to be put down. Our vet asked that we go through several more tests just so we can all feel we’ve done what we can, that we fully tried. He had a blood test last week for thyriod as well as cortisol and they asked us to meet with a vet neurologist–that’s next week. Because no one will adopt him (so says the rescues) and the vet won’t put him down with out these tests that is what we are doing. It feels like such a difficult and sad situation. I go back and forth. But then I look at my arm and know how much worse it could have been and how this could have happened to my 12 year old daughter or a friend or anyone. So very hard.

  44. There’s a constant theme here that there’s no mention of disciplining their dogs. Beyond all the behaviour therapy teachings, dogs are still primal creatures and need to know you’re the alpha.

    If there’s a violent outburst you’re doing a disservice to yourself and the dog, by not letting him know that that can never happen

  45. Someone who’d known me when I had a dog came over today and asked what happened to her (short story – Stella was old and symptoms of Cushing’s disease worsened. Sad to say she eventually made a one-way trip to the vet’s office). The innocuous comment “what happened to your dog?” started me thinking about our dysfunctional relationship. I don’t want to bore you with the explanation of how I came to be Stella’s owner but suffice to say I didn’t intend on adopting an older pit bull terrier mix with bad teeth. To this day I find it difficult to understand how amazingly tolerant she was of my son, my cats, a small dog but not me. Despite being the one to feed her, and take her for walks, there were many, many instances where I’d be petting her and suddenly notice her eyes turn black. In the next moment she’d turn into a raging, angry dog trying to attack me. Luckily for me her teeth were in terrible shape. But still, people wouldn’t believe me when I told them her eyes changed prior to the attack. It was as if a veil had covered the eyes and was suddenly removed. I used to call her my devil dog.

  46. Hello Debra,
    We have a Shih Tzu with instant, unexplainable aggression towards us. He bites everything in reach, fingers, feet, legs. It just happens seemingly out of the blue.
    How are you holding up with the situation? Have you made any progress?

  47. This is personal for me since I put my young Lab to sleep. It just took one time where he had an Epileptic seizure and woke with his eyes glazed over, howling. I called his name and he lunged at me. Luckily I got a door between us. I tried to come out but he lunged again. I was alone at the time. It was 30 years ago and I still feel bad. At 80lbs I couldn’t trust him to be off a leash and hurt a kid. Truly was not the same dog. Took about a half hour for him to “wake” out of. I read a book years later on this type of seizure. Also read about a kennel attendant getting almost killed by a large undiagnosed dog. Crazy sad.

  48. I have a three year purebred pug and have a problem with her. She is basically a good dog,she wants to
    -to sit on my lap and follows me when I move. My problem is that out of a sound sleep she wakes up in attack mode and tries to bite me. I watched her sleeping on her bed and she wakes up attack mode and turns in a circle. I have tried putting a blanket betweenLynne her and I while setting in a chair. On night I was seating on my chair with my computer laying on my dog. All of a sudden she woke up in attack mode and bit me. Once she bit me it was like nothing ever happened. So now I have made it so that she will not attack me. Another trait is while she is sleeping she hears Liberty commercial and charges at the tv. Now it seems to be getting worse she is up to four commercials t only thing I can think of are the colors bothering her. I took her to the vet and he could not find anything wrong. I feel like I lost a part of my dog. I don’t ike being afraid of my dog.

  49. I’m sorry honey, you can’t rehome a dog with a bite history and a no kill shelter will not take dogs that bit because they can’t place a dog in a home that has a nite history.

  50. I just did this last night, my dog Chloe would suddenly snap and her eyes were crazy. Her episodes were becoming more frequent and serious. She was three. My vet said Rage symptoms usually start age 2-4. I feel heart broken and defeated

  51. Until you have owned a dog with this condition you cannot fully grasp what you are dealing with. This is not a behavioural problem but a neurological condition.
    I consulted a dog behaviourist, the breeder and vet, all advised I was in a dangerous and volatile situation and that Euthanasia was the right solution for my dog. He was a 2 yo Doberman who aside from these out bursts was the kindest, gentlest, obedient loving dog. The behaviourist said she could not help as he had no behaviour problems but neurological issues and that I was doing everything right as his owner. She specialised in aggressive dogs.
    People please seek professional advice as listening to advice on how to deal with behavioural issues when your dog has neurological issues could be very dangerous.
    If you have a dog with this condition please do not pass them in to other families and put their safety and lives in danger. As hard as it is, do the right thing and send them to heaven.

  52. I have 4 Dobermans. The dad has attacked me and my partner viscously 4 times in the past 2 months. He is a year and a half. I had to go to the hospital for one of the attacks. It seems that he has this rage syndrome. My question is should I be concerned about the other 5 puppies (now 6 months old) and who have new homes. What are their chances of having it also.

  53. One of my dogs frequently wakes up unprovoked and finds my other dog and starts biting her while she’s asleep. There is no reason! My little shztzu sleeps on the floor nowhere near my other little Brussels dog. It happens about every couple weeks. I have no idea why!

  54. I have a 2 yr old male chihuahua I’ve had him since he was weened he has always been s very loving snd.animal but 2 weeks ago out of nowhere he started.growling and snapping at just me. I say his name try to touch him or even look his wsy.can trigger this. Yet if he hasn’t seen for an hr he.runs into me.lickd me but them it’s Luke someone flipped a switch. It’s very heart breaking I don’t understand this can someone help me please this is my baby

  55. I have a pit bull two years old . Sweet and a big ok baby. My boyfriend was playing fetch with him and out of nowhere he started barking and snarling at the air , then ran into a fence, his eyes were bugged out and looked scary but he was breathing hard barking for an hour straight. It took us a while to get him into the house. Can someone please tell me what just happened?