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Ask Your Pet

by Jennifer Dickman

Dear Jennifer,

My dog Atticus has attacked my father’s dog twice (had the dog both times by the neck and would not let go without extreme force). We just want to know what we should do with him because this is completely unlike his personality and I have two small children so I am fearful to take him back although my Dad can no longer keep him.

Please help!


Dear Nancy,

First, whenever an animal has a change in behavior like this, I would consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. Something that seems to be behavioral may be due to a health issue. Even if that’s not what your dog tells me, I would still see a vet to be safe.

When I tune into Atticus and picture the situations described above for him, I sense extreme rage. It seems as if he is triggered and goes into "crazy attack mode", and then it takes him a little while to come back to his normal self. He later feels bad about what he did. He seems like a person with a rage disorder to me, like one of those people who will be perfectly normal and then completely fly off the handle for no reason. Atticus says that he does not want to act this way, but cannot control himself when these incidents happen.

Atticus cannot describe to me any concrete reason that this is happening. This makes me suspect that it may indeed be a medical issue. Has he shown any physical symptoms other than this? Was he recently vaccinated? Was he exposed to anything potentially toxic, such as lawn chemicals or toxic mold?

My recommendation would be to take him to a holistic veterinarian immediately. They have more in their "bag of tricks" in terms of both diagnosis and treatments, and are more open to digging for things, such as vaccine reactions, that conventional vets don’t consider. There is also a flower essence formula called "Outburst" in the Animal Collection at www.GreenHope Essences.com that should help with this behavior.

In the meantime, until the cause is found and treated and you are sure that you trust Atticus, I would keep him away from your children. When a dog tells me he doesn’t trust his own behavior, I take that very, very seriously. Perhaps there is an experienced dog person in your area who could temporarily foster Atticus while you search for answers. Or, perhaps you could section off an area of your home for him temporarily. I don’t think you should just give up on him; there has to be a cause for what’s going on. But, you are correct that you need to think of the safety of your children first.

If a vet can’t find anything wrong, I would consult a trainer familiar with aggression issues. I prefer trainers who believe in positive reinforcement and do not use things like shock collars, but some people disagree. I recently saw a shock collar completely backfire, turning a pit bull who sweetly interacted with my young, disabled son the previous week into a dog who wanted nothing to do with people and was even more unruly than what I had seen before the collar was on her, which was just mild acting out that could have been easily handled with other methods. This further reinforced my opinion. But, some people swear by more aggressive methods like this.

I wish you and Atticus all the best. I hope you are able to get to the bottom of his issues and keep him as a part of your family.

Many Blessings,

Jennifer Dickman

Jennifer Dickman is an Animal Communicator, Reiki Master-Teacher specializing in Animal Reiki, and Intuitive Counselor. She conducts phone and email sessions worldwide. She may be contacted at Jennifer_Dickman@ymail.com  or through her web site, www.JenniferDickman.com, where her MP3 journey to contact your animals in Spirit is also for sale. To subscribe to Jennifer’s newsletter and receive a free copy of her essay, "Five Tings Your Cat or Dog Wants You to Know", please email Jennifer with the word "Newsletter" in the subject line.

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