Sudden night time aggression
i have 3 male dobermans. Their ages are 8, 8, & 10.
Two of the three sleep in the bed at night with my husband and I. Lately my 8 year old fawn male (Fluery) has had a really bad attitude at night. As soon as the lights go out and we are ready to go to bed the growling begins. He will growl at me and the 10 year old male (gunner). If i move in my sleep and bump into him he will growl or if the other dobie tries to adjust or move spots he will also growl. Last night my 10 year old was sleeping on the floor and decided to hop on the bed and when he did the other dog decided to attack. Obviously i jump up out of my sleep to retrain him. There were no injuries, just an upset dog or two. I am just confused. These two have grown up with each other since birth and dont generally have any little brawls. They've slept in our bed together for as long i can remember. They spend the day together and dont have issues. My 10 year old is very mild mannered and not a dominant dog. The 8 year old who is suddenly angry is very sweet and loving during the day and up until the light goes out. Any ideas what can cause this sudden issue with him being this way toward me and the other dog. Thinking a new sleeping aragement may be required, but was hoping someone would have any advise??
Thanks a bunch,
Male-male aggression is very common in dobermans, and it can start suddenly between two dogs who have always gotten along...but you say your guys are not aggressive AT ALL during the day? No dirty glares, lip lifting, pushing around of the other dog; no arguing over sleeping places, toys, food; no "fun and games" which turn into arguments between the two of them; no complaints or aggressive behavior toward the other dog, toward you or in general (during the day) if you pay attention to the other and not him??
Take an extra hard look at the relations between your two dogs. Are you missing signs that they are really not comfortable with each other during the day? Aggressive or irritated behavior toward the other may not happen every time they are together.
You only seem to mention 2 dogs...where is the third when these behaviors occur? Are any of your dogs new to you, or has there been some other change to your family structure?
Or do you notice any strange noises, disruptions outside or inside the house (construction, neighbor noisemaking,dog barking, appliance noises, heater going on and off--that sort of thing) which makes him come to alert at night in particular? Because you say this is new, can you think of anything of that may have happened recently that would make him more sensitive to unusual things going on at night?
How does he act when you startle him out of sleep during the day?
But when I read your story, the first thing I think of is that your troublesome guy may be experiencing pain of some sort....something which hurts when he is jostled--arthritis of some sort, for example. Or perhaps his hearing is getting worse, making him startle when he suddenly becomes aware of something he hadn't known was there (which might happen more at night).
Anyway, I would start with a trip to the vet to check for hidden pains, and other physical problems, and also give him a thyroid check (blood test) to make sure that this change in behavior doesn't have a physical cause.
My first thought was some sort of canine Alzheimer/sundowner issue since you only seem to be seeing this behavior in the evening.
Interesting, Alan. I'd heard of Alzheimers, of course, but not of "sundowning" as a particular thing. So I did a little googling....here's an article which might ring a bell, 3dobies??
Sundowning Syndrome in Dogs: How to Help Your Pet
I'm waiting for the Sundowning article to load (dial-up strikes again) but while I'm waiting I absolutely agree with Melbrod--the very first thing I would do would have a very complete vet exam of your nighttime terrorist to make sure something isn't going awry with him physically.
Since I don't allow dogs on the bed (learned with my very first that Dobes are bed hogs and have very boney elbows and knees and are fully capable of taking up so much bed there is no room for me. Since the cats can do that all by themselves I made up my mind years ago that beds were no dog zones. The dogs have big cushy Costco beds in the bedroom and in any room in the house but there is one of those big beds for each dog in the bedroom.
I keep only males so I'm very alert for possible unfortunate interactions between mine. But I've had lots of experience with multiple males and have some fairly unique situations which have allowed me to pick and choose if I keep a puppy that I've been raising (over the years I've grown puppies out for breeders who have two choice males in a litter but want them to be older than the 10 or 12 weeks that most puppies go to a their new home so that they KNOW they have kept the better of the two.) I'm perfectly willing to take a second choice male as my next show prospect when a couple of boys are that close in quality. By six months I also KNOW if a puppy is going to be able to fit into my present group of males.
The dogs mostly don't sleep together on one bed--even thought the big round Costco beds will accommodate three big males--it just doesn't work out that way around here. A couple of times I've had a pair of dogs who do share a bed (and it's always been the oldest dog and the youngest dog). I've also had dogs who are adamant from the beginning they aren't sharing a bed with any other dog. And there was was one who slept with a cat--ifit was very cold the cat slept on the dog--but that only once.
So I haven't run into a problem with a dog suddenly being aggressive about sharing a bed that he's shared without problems for a lengthy period of time with one other dog.
But I had one male--as he got older who became increasingly grouchy about being awakened suddenly and I've known people who had dogs (and this wasn't confined to Dobes) who after sleeping on the same bed (dog or people) or couch or chair, often for years, would suddenly decide that it was no longer OK.
The solutions in pretty much all these cases was to crate the dog who wasn't tolerating other dogs but only at night. Or set up a small ex-pen with a comfortable dog bed in it and confine the dog to that.
Looks like the Sundowning article finally loaded--let me go and look at it.
I like the information given about Sundowner syndrome--and they recommend pretty much what I did--my own dog and most of the dogs owned by friends didn't show any of the extreme behaviors--pacing, panting, anxiety--they just didn't want to be bothered when they were sleeping. Dogs, like everyone else age at different rates--so the fact that it's one of the 8 year olds that is being snotty isn't particularly surprising.
I've noticed that in the last year my now 12+ year old sometimes barks in his sleep--this scares the pants off of my cats when it happens if they happen to be walking past him--I noticed also that they'd modified their behavior so they don't walk close to him if he's asleep. He's never barked at them in the past and doesn't now--he just barks when he's asleep occasionally.
I have one doberman, just turned about 1 year 4 months. very similar issue though. he is very loving and sweet all day to my husband and myself and anyone who comes in the door. but he was randomly wake up in the middle of the night and its almost as if he doesn't know who we are starts growling and nipping at us. never has drawn blood, but it's quite scary. he gets better once we turn the lights on and then typically runs out of the room and sleeps on the couch. we have a night light so the room isn't completely dark. it just started happening 2-3 months ago. and it's very random, not every night, but occurring more frequently. he has slept in our bed with us since we first got him at 2 months. I can't think if any change in his day-to-day patterns that would cause this abrupt change. any thoughts?
Our Ali girl started doing the same thing around 1 years old - Sweet heart till she was ready to go to bed - then all bets off - Ali slept with me her life , always at the foot of the bed - left side - If she was a sleep when I came to bed - well she was not a happy girl - growl sometimes - sometimes pop her teeth - really - she was mad at the world .
I gave this great thought - Why ? Wife and I watched her as I would lay down - it was more like I scared her - She was sound asleep - then woke quick - I think it was of a natural dog thing - what they would do in the wild - protecting themselves . I will warn you - that at this young of age - one night - they may make contact with yeah ( a light bite ) Ali got me one night - It was a cod winters night - she had curled up next to me near my upper side - I have no problem with that as I was cold too - then after we went to sleep - I must have rolled over some and she got me on the ear , talk about hurt + it bleed like a stuck hog - blood everywhere - Her and I had one good talk ! I put the fear of God into that little dog - from then on it never happened again . Maybe that was just luck - I don't know - but she was close to sleeping ever night of her life in a crate !
As Ali got into her senior years - this is sort of funny - she would just mumble around till I got to my position- roll over - 75 % of the time - she has sometime to say about it , but she never worried me - it was just Ali .
As Ali was getting into her short rows - My wife asked if she could sleep with her- I said sure - But - when she goes to sleep - don't mess with her - the next morning - Wife said you know - I barely touched her with my foot and she growled at me - I laughed and said that's just Ali .
As far as sundowners - Ali didn't have that - My dad has that and I know - ones human and the other a animal - if you have been around someone with sundowners - you will know what I'm taking about , its ugly !
I would do like the others have said - Maybe a good idea for a Vet check , I personally think its just the dog coming out in them that nature gave them - I try and watch who I let pet any of our dogs we have had - even thou - they all have been threw OB classes and act great - they are dogs and would never want somebody to trip there trigger and get bit - I have read about the most well mannered dogs - having a break down - from out of nowhere .
Doubt if this has answered your real question --- Why or what - yet this is from what happened with us .
Advice ? one of 2 things - end the sleeping in bed for both of your protection . Or make the problem one sleep at the foot of the bed and make sure everybody leaves it alone
Best of luck
Yes, Kya grumbles a little at night when I move but it's def. a grumbly growl and very different than her defensive growl.
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