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Aggressive upon waking up
02-05-2013, 08:39 PM,
#1
Aggressive upon waking up
My Bull terrier has these episodes where he wakes up suddenly, growls and attacks me. He acts like he's insane! What causes this? Any help is appreciated!
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02-05-2013, 08:41 PM, (This post was last modified: 02-05-2013, 08:42 PM by alexadry.)
#2
RE: Aggressive upon waking up
It's highly possible for him to have bad dreams and wake up startled, disoriented and defensive. Some dogs will react this way and then seconds later resume life as always as if nothing ever happened. However, in some cases it may just be he has a hard time recognizing where he is and what he's doing. In other words, he may have a hard time going from the sleep stage to the awaken stage. At times, this can happen in dogs whose philosophy is "attack first and think later." How to deal with this?

For starters, try your best to stay composed. If he notices any changes in you, he'll be more likely to feel more confused and reactive. Try to ignore (as hard as it is) the behavior and if he's confused, talk softly to him in a calm tone of voice as you pronounce his name. his should hopefully help him gain back to his normal world.

This is a bit of a challenge to deal with as it's a startle response, in other words, it's not really under his control. It's a good idea to bring this issue to your vet's attention and possibly seek the opinion of a board certified neurologist just to rule out possible medical/neurological causes. In some cases, some behaviors as such can be triggered by a psychomotor seizure disorder or something known as "waking SOA" SOA standing for "sudden onset aggression" This is common in bull terriers, read here:
http://www.btneuro.org/btneuro-old/soa.htm

In the meanwhile, it wouldn't be a bad idea to keep him in a play pen when it's time for him to sleep. This way you can manage his environment and you are protected from his random attacks. I hope this helps!
Former AAHA animal hospital employee, dog trainer and dog behavior consultant. Published dog author on several print and web publications.
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