Odd Dog Behaviors: Fly Snapping and Rage Aggression

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©Scott Sheaffer, CDBC, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, USA Dog Behavior, LLC

In the 30-second video below you see Winston, a client's English Bulldog. Winston was brought to me with the owner stating that Winston was showing aggressive and compulsive behaviors (i.e., OCD in humans).

After a thorough assessment and observation, I determined that he was suffering from idiopathic aggression (also known as SOIA, Sudden Onset Idiopathic Aggression, or rage aggression) and fly snapping. The video captures Winston fly snapping.

Fly snapping is a condition where dogs seem to air bite at non-existent flies. In this video you will see two clear instances of this. Fly snapping can be a compulsive disorder but in this instance it is a neurologic issue caused by partial seizures.

Idiopathic aggression is a type of aggression that is sudden, unexplained and can be violent. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases in dogs diagnosed with idiopathic aggression, owners end up euthanizing them.

Sadly, both of these conditions are not properly diagnosed in most cases which oftentimes results in unfortunate consequences for the dog and owner including unnecessary euthanasia in some cases.

Once these issues were diagnosed in Winston’s case, we worked with Winston’s veterinarian and found a medication that appears to have improved both of these problems. We also started behavior modification to work alongside the medication.

The result? I am pleased to tell you that Winston is back to his friendly and leisurely ways.