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Old 10-30-2009, 06:53 PM
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Default Can aggression be caused by lack of exercise?

My neighbor is out of town. I walked his dog for him last weekend, but this week his roommate took over. Problem is, the roommate only takes him out twice a day for about 10 minutes. The dog has been out on the deck crying and howling every day. Jake is a mix- part pit bull, but not very big- I'd say he's about 50 pounds, but very muscular. He's very high energy, but has been very sweet when I've walked him before.

Today I just couldn't stand the howling anymore so I took my dog, Zoe, on leash to his place and got Jake (also on leash). As soon as we got outside, Jake was just uncontrollable with energy- jumping, barking, going berzerk. As I tried to calm him down his leash got tangled up with Zoe's and suddenly he attacked her! They snarled and growled and it was very frightening. I let go of Zoe's leash and she got free. Jake didn't hurt her, but his aggression scared me to death. I've never seen that in him before and wonder if his lack of exercise this week has made him frustrated and aggressive.

Where am I going and why am I in a handbasket?
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Old 10-30-2009, 06:57 PM
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I think lack of exercise could be a factor in aggresion
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Old 10-30-2009, 07:04 PM
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Have you seen him around Zoe before?

Dog on a tether + strange dog coming up could mean reactivity. If Jake felt threatened by her at all, his flight response is cut off in this scenario so he could have just gone straight to fighting.

It could be a slew of things like dog reactivity or even DA. I think it takes more than lack of exercise to get a dog to be aggressive. I think part is just inborn temperament and part could be lack of socialization (which does often go hand in hand with lack of exercise). At the shelter there were a LOT of dogs that were underexercised. Most of them handled it okay. Some were relinquished due to destruction and being kind of crazy hyper from lack of exercise but not many were 'aggressive'. Imo it is usually hard to make a stable dog randomly aggressive.

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Old 10-30-2009, 07:04 PM
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too much energy + too much stimulation can certainly equal brain implosion.

i don't know how well you know this dog, but any chance it could have been a misguided, inappropriate, horribly over-the-top attempt at play? when my bullies play they sound for all the world like they're fighting.

it certainly could have been aggression as well, but it's just a thought.

i'm glad nobody was hurt!
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Old 10-30-2009, 07:24 PM
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The way you described it happening, he was over the top jubilant at you guys (including zoe) being there, and didn't start fighting until their leashes tangled? I don't know, I wasn't there, but it sounds like having his leash tangled with hers freaked him out/hurt him somehow and he lashed out at her to try and get her away or something.
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Old 10-31-2009, 02:42 AM
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Well lack of exercise can cause stress.
And stress can create a little aggression.
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Old 10-31-2009, 10:50 AM
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I think the aggression was a response to the leashes being tangled. He was maybe uncomfortable and likely scared and trapped.
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:37 AM
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I agree. You don't know how well socialized he is and how well he gets along with other dogs. He was probably overstimulated.

I know that my dog (she an Am. Staff mix) gets along wonderfully with most dogs. She is very controllable on leash and doesn't care that much that other dogs are there, but when they invade her space (as in sniffing butts and then leashes getting tangled), it's a completely different story.
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:46 AM
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My brother has Mary's sister. THe yard and the house are it. No other dogs to romp around with and people that are just about immobile. SHe knows sit. SHe is the gentlest spirit. SHe loves everyone and I have never seen her be aggressive at the fence to anyone. SHe doesn't do property damage either.
Mom's dog has the same and is the same as above so I am not sure what lack of excercise has to do with it.

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Old 10-31-2009, 12:02 PM
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Some dogs have a much higher prey drive and other personality traits which make them intense and pent up when they're not given an ample amount of prey burning outlet. When there is an excess of stimuli which triggers these drives, and this pent up tension builds and builds, something can become the proverial straw which puts the dog into a real fight or flight state. His limbic system is all fired up. It has to do with brain and hormone activity. If there is still no outlet by this point, the dog can re-direct this "fight" (of fight or flight) onto the nearest thing, person or other dog. They don't mean to. They're not consciously being "mean." It's the autonomic nervous sytem in full drive. And some dogs are more easily put into this state than others...and at different rates and for different reasons.

So, yes, lack of prey burning exercise and mental stimulation can cause this un-burned energy to build like steam in a pressure cooker when just the right conditions and just the right stimuli triggers the dog. And it is sometimes seen in the form of re-directed "aggression." And sometimes it comes out as some other behavior. I don't call it true aggression because the dog is running off of, in part or whole, involuntary, chemical/hormone response and not a thought process, as when the cortex is being used. That is in the background when the limbic and autonomic nervous systems are fired up.

So, the dogs you speak of happen to have a higher threhold for this stimuli. Conditions aren't exactly the same for every dog and their make-up is not all the same. And there are also factors which may have to do with training, relationship with owner, socialization history, self control before they get to that stage. There are just so many variables that can play into behavior.
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Last edited by Doberluv; 10-31-2009 at 12:13 PM.
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