Rage Syndrome in Dogs
There is not yet a clear understanding of what rage syndrome is and what underlying causes trigger this form of aggression. What is clear is that there appears to be a pattern of this form of aggression involving a disproportionate amount of Springer Spaniels andCocker Spaniels. However, the syndrome has been observed in many other breeds such as Bernese Mountain dogs, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Dobermans, English Bull Terriers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Pyrenean Mountain Dogs and St. Bernard’s, even though at a less extent.
Signs and Symptoms of Rage Syndrome
Rage syndrome is characterized by sudden, unprovoked attacks often targeting family members. The dog does not appear to give much warning other than perhaps a hardening of the eyes. The attack may then end as quickly as it came with often the dog behaving as if nothing has happened. Many owners report that their dogs acts in an apologetic manner after the attack often licking the owner and acting submissive.
Theorized Causes of Rage Syndrome
There are various theories as to what may be causing rage syndrome. Some believe that it may be a hereditary disorder due to some form of brain disorder or a reduced level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for providing a calming effect. Another theory is that rage syndrome is simply an extreme form of dominance aggression. Another theory finally suggests that this form of aggression in reality is a seizure disorder especially when the dog appears to be in an altered state of consciousness.
Prognosis and Treatment of Rage Syndrome
The prognosis for this syndrome varies, depending on its severity and the underlying cause if pin-pointed. Consulting with a dog behaviorist is a must in order to obtain an accurate assessment. There are better results in dogs who give warning signs such as growls and showing teeth when compared to dogs who engage in full force attacks. Better results are also seen when owners are able to see a pattern and can predict what can trigger an attack (ie waking the dog up when sleeping, going near the food bowl or moving the dog away from the couch or bed).
Treatment options are discussed after observing the dog's Jekyll and Hyde behavior. Generally, medications may be prescribed and a behavior modification plan must be followed. Cocker Spaniel rage syndrome fortunately affects only a small percentage of dogs and is quite rare.