I own four dogs, two pairs of sisters, and all rescues. My first two I adopted, Poppy & Jasmine (Beagle/Jack Russell crosses), were rescued from a puppy mill. They were six months when i got them and spayed shortly after. The first few months with them were spent getting them comfortable around humans and other dogs, and by the time they reached a year old they developed in to confident, social, happy-go-lucky dogs.
A year later I rescued another two sisters while working at an animal shelter. A litter of nine newborn puppies was brought into us after their mum got the last pup stuck while giving birth and died in transit. The nine pups were sent to a foster home and hand-raised for eight weeks, I decided to adopt two, Abbey and Kensington.
Their mum was a pit bull/mastiff mix, dad unknown (Lab or Rottweiler I suspect). They were spayed at two months and I brought them home a week later. Abbey was always a little anxious as a pup, but as with Poppy and Jasmine, the first four months was spent socialising with other dogs and people.
At six months old, both the puppies developed canine acne (within two weeks of each other) and shortly after, their personality changed. They both seemed overly anxious every time they were brought into a new environment and began showing fear towards the unknown, including humans and dogs. Kensington tends to back away when feeling unsure, however Abbey is more aggressive in her behavior and will growl, show teeth and become very unruly. She is very reactive and has a high chase drive too.
I have been working with her one on one now for almost five months and have had little success improving her behavior. The behaviour is linked more to new situations than human and dog aggression. I have been taking her to my husbands very busy construction site and after the second time she was very well behaved.
Could it be hormonal related with the behavior changing around the same time as developing acne? Results of being spayed too early maybe? Can hormonal imbalances be tested for? Or could it be other factors leading to their behavior, being hand-raised for instance or breed personality? I have spoken to my vet about this on several occasions and have been told its genetics, and to carry on working with their behaviour.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Nikki, by email