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What is Rage Syndrome?

While many believe that rage syndrome is an extreme and rare form of dominance aggression, there are speculations that it may be a symptom of seizure-related aggression. Partial complex seizures result from abnormal electrical activity in the temporal lobe of the brain, an area which oversees memory, sensation, and emotions. Seizures in this area can affect behavior, specifically defensive and predatory responses, causing aggressive and threatening behavior.

Rage syndrome refers to a condition of uncontrollable aggression in dogs. While aggression can usually be attributed to a specific reason, such as protecting a territory, or from fear or anxiety, the classification of idiopathic aggression, or rage syndrome, is given when there seems to be no reason for the aggressive behavior or attack. It is seen most frequently in English Springer Spaniels, which has given the condition the additional name of “Springer Rage."

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Symptoms of Rage Syndrome in Dogs

Symptoms of rage syndrome can include many of the signs of regular aggressive behavior that are triggered by normal aggressive tendencies. These can include behavior meant to protect and defend, but rage syndrome differs in that there are no discernable triggers to an episode of aggression. Often, episodes that can last minutes to hours are seemingly out of the blue, and can be focused on any person or thing in the dog’s vicinity. The periods of aggression can be prolonged, and there is usually an accompanying behavioral change before or after, such as a slump of depression. Signs your dog may have rage syndrome include:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Depression
  • Violent and uncontrolled aggression
  • Lunging toward targets
  • Growling
  • Snarling
  • Barking
  • Biting and snapping
  • Baring teeth
  • Curling lips

Causes of Rage Syndrome in Dogs

While the cause of rage syndrome has not as yet been fully defined, there are some ideas why it may occur.

  • Genetic disposition to aggression
  • Extreme dominance aggression
  • Partial complex seizures, causing symptoms of aggression and behavioral changes

Seizures can occur due to varying factors, including:

  • Genetic disposition
  • Trauma 
  • Brain tumor
  • Stroke 

Rage syndrome can occur in any dog, but there are breeds that seem more prone to the condition. These breeds include:

  • English Springer Spaniels
  • Cocker Spaniels 
  • Bull Terriers 
  • Retriever breeds

Diagnosis of Rage Syndrome in Dogs

Rage syndrome can often be a difficult diagnosis. In many cases, a diagnosis of rage syndrome is later disputed and reclassified. Monitoring and reporting your dog’s behavior before, during, and after aggressive episodes can help to discern rage syndrome from the many other forms of aggression that a dog can display. Any triggers or stimuli that precede an aggressive event can help to determine what kind of aggression your dog is displaying. Rage syndrome is diagnosed when there are no discernable triggers or reasons for the aggression, and there are perhaps periods of depression or behavioral changes that occur before or after the episodes. 

To ensure there is not a medical reason for the behavior, your vet will perform a physical or neurological exam and may order blood tests, a urinalysis, or imaging techniques to look for any abnormalities, such as organ dysfunction or tumors. Abnormal EEG results can help to confirm a diagnosis of rage syndrome.

Treatment of Rage Syndrome in Dogs

Treatments for rage syndrome cannot cure the condition, but only serve to manage it, and owners should be aware that aggressive episodes can still occur. Every member of the family needs to understand the condition, and learn to recognize any behavioral changes that may signal an aggressive event is about to occur. You may need to change how you handle your dog in these circumstances. 

The episodes characteristic of rage syndrome can usually be stopped with anticonvulsant medication, such as phenobarbital. While some dogs only need a single dose, other may need lifelong treatment with periodic blood testing to monitor the results, as well as any side effects. Constant monitoring of your dog’s behavior will also be needed. If your dog has been diagnosed with discernable seizures, your vet will instruct you on appropriate behavior in the case of an epileptic seizure to ensure the safety of both you and your dog. In some cases when the aggression cannot be managed, euthanasia may be considered.

Recovery of Rage Syndrome in Dogs

To help manage the symptoms involved with rage syndrome, you may have to administer medication to your dog and take him in for periodic testing. The way you handle your dog may need to be tailored to his needs. Your dog may need lifelong treatments and monitoring to ensure the safety of everyone in the household. Recovery is fair, as some dogs can experience improvement with treatments, while others may still retain their aggressive behaviors.

Rage syndrome can be a frustrating condition, and owners may not have the patience to undergo the constant threat of unmitigated attack by affected dogs. As there may be a genetic component to this condition, it is recommended that affected dogs are not bred.

Rage Syndrome Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Sophie
White/Yellow Lab mix
4 Years
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

none

Sophie is a rescue we've had for 2.5 yrs. I walk her daily with our other rescue lab mix. When on these walks if we encounter other people (with or without dogs), people running, bike riders, and sometimes slow moving cars, she will go into an attack rage. During this time she's growling, snapping, and lunging at the "object". She will snap at anything close to her, our other dog and myself. I've been bitten twice and snapped at many times. Once the "object" is pass, she's back to normal. She also displays this behavior for anyone approaching the house. She's very aggressive to people coming to the house, but after we let them in and she "introduced", all's well and does not get aggressive on return visits. She has also done this with our neighbors, aggressive - meet -friendly. I use to carry a water bottle on walks and squirt her when she first starting showing signs of aggression. Only worked a couple times. She was rescued from a country shelter. She was extremely under weight and covered with fees and ticks. Also she was pole caught and will get somewhat aggressive with anyone other then me or my wife using the pool cleaning pole.

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Jack
Pomeranian
7
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

hi ... I've adopted a 7-year-old pomeranian, Jack. He's usually very cheerful, friendly and loving. I early on discovered that he sometimes attacks feet, usually of males in athletic shoes. I was told that he was taken from his first home, where he spent maybe his first 18 months, because a teen boy was kicking him. Don't know which came first, the attacks or the kicking. I have a young male roommate whom Jack really likes, and he sometimes suddenly loses it and rages at his feet, then a second later it passes and he's fine a happy again. But now I have a worse problem. Jack has arthritis and bad knees, and at night he's sometimes not up to climbing the long stairs to come to bed, where he sleeps with me on the bed. In recent weeks he's started to viciously attack me when I stoop to pick him up from the floor where he's been resting or napping. If I whack him or aggressively respond verbally he goes ballistic. Bit me a few weeks ago, I still have the scar from two tooth flaps. I was throwing a towel over him and bringing him up anyway, because once he's up and on the bed he's his cheerful loving self again. Made him furious when I lifted him with the towel. I was awau for four nights, and since coming home I haven't done that. the first night he attacked again I yelled at him and left him alone. 45 minutes later he came up on his own and 'asked" to be lifted onto the bed. he got angry again last night, and I left him alone for 45 minutes, then when I went down to check on him, he rolled over to show his belly and let me pick him up. I'm reading about rage syndrome and idiopathic aggression? If it were seizures, would it be correlated to being sleepy at night? What about his foot attacks? I'm very broke right now, can't afford tests etc. Thanks for any advice. I've had him since spring, I was fostering him for a family in a homeless shelter, his second family, and they've decided he's so happy with me it's in his best interest to stay. They loved him, I don't think they caused this? Could it be correlated with baby aspirin? I'm told he needs his knees replaced, and that he has arthritis, so I began giving him baby aspirin twice a day a few weeks ago. Before this started.

Diane, [email protected],com (I don't see where to put my contact info, the fields below are so pale I can barely read them!

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
It is always difficult to control behavioural issues and to understand them especially in cases where history is hazy and unclear; punishment can be constructive or destructive, try ignoring Jack when he has an aggressive episode and leave him where he is. If he starts to attack feet, get the person to walk away to another room; these triggers are difficult to determine and predict. I do not think there is anything medically wrong, but a Behaviourist would be your best course of action. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Beta
Beagle
3 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Lunging
Biting
Snapping

Hi,

I have a three and a half years old female beagle called Beta. She has recently accomplished a mother role, gave birth to five adorable puppys. Most of the time (or almost all the time) she is cuddly, warm-hearted, constantly seeking our company and demanding to be petted, sleeps on her back (that's a sign), great with kids, a variety of dogs, even a cat, overall a happy dog...but.

From time to time she reacts violently to us (any member of the household), by violently I mean she snaps (accompanied with growl), bites and run away, most of the time under the table or bed. By now she had those episodes at least ten times towards any of us, at least once.

At first we thought it was bite out of sleep, as most of the time it happened when she was sleeping/lying down. I would sit near her start petting her and as soon as I approach near tail region she jumps at me. Sometimes it was only a look, sometimes only a quick growl, but sometimes also a bite.

A soon as it happens and she jumps off the bed, she reacts like nothing happened. And that's what confuses us the most.

As I recently stumbled upon this article regarding Rage Syndrome and read a bit more about it, I've found that Beagles are also on the list of breeds prone to that, rarely but they are.

Does the symptoms that I've listed have anything to do with Rage Syndrome? Or can it be caused by pain related to perianal gland (gland under the tail)? Or it could be something else?

Thank you in advance.
Greetings from Belgrade (Serbia).
Regards,
Damjan

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
Whilst rage syndrome is rare in Beagles, they are a known affected breed; the behaviour or rather symptoms since behaviour is something we believe a dog can control consciously does sound like rage syndrome with sudden aggression. However, in cases of rage syndrome dogs usually don’t realise what has occurred and they don’t go to hide after an episode which makes me think that Beta is aware of the aggression and is sorry afterwards. It is possible that the ‘episodes’ are in response to pain or another stimulus, but you would need to discuss with a Neurologist or your General Veterinarian about distinguishing between the two. There is a Veterinary School in Belgrade, which may have a Neurologist knowledgeable about the condition and to check for it. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.vet.bg.ac.rs/en

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Bo
Labrador Retriever
2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Aggression
Seizures

Hi our dog is going to be 2 years old in three months. About a year ago he started having some seizures. He is a lab mix we adopted from a rescue when he was 10 weeks old. About 6 months ago he had a pretty bad seizure and became aggressive. This was very strange. This dog loves everyone and everything. he is the most loving dog I have ever met. The other day he went into his crate, he started having a very bad seizure, shaking violently, and foaming at the mouth. I was able to lock his crates door, and good thing because he became more aggressive then I have see (growling, biting cage, and slamming himself against it trying to attack me). After 5 minutes he was calm and looking for love. Could this be rage syndrome?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
This doesn’t sound like rage syndrome, this sound more like a traumatic event and Bo being scared and confused by it; in cases of rage syndrome a dog will be totally chilled out possibly being petted and they will just snap from nowhere to full attack mode, Bo is most likely confused by a seizures and is defensive afterwards. If the seizures are getting more frequent you should visit your Veterinarian to discuss management and other options. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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coco
Cocker Spaniel
8 Years
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

aggesive to strangers

i want to know if my dog has cocker rage.she is very friendly with me and my family.but if ant one else tries to pat or touch her,she will bite.she was laying by my feet and when my mom walked pass,out of no where she went to attack.she is very protective of me and jealous

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
Whether the cause is ‘Cocker Rage’ or just general protectiveness the cause is behavioural; depending on the research, Cocker Rage usually starts in dogs (really any breed of dog - again depending on the research quoted) at less than two years of age. From your description, it just sounds like Coco is overprotective of you and you need to discourage this behaviour by controlling Coco when this happens and punishing her so she understands this behaviour is wrong (see below link). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.cesarsway.com/cesar-millan/cesars-blog/Canine-and-punishment

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Luigi
Cockapoo
4 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Growling, snapping, frenzied

Frequently in the evening toward the end of a walk or when going to take out our 4 month old cockapoo to urinate etc., he turns from a curiously smelling playful puppy to a super-charged aggressive leg / foot attacking puppy who will growl and resist me. It’s only for a few moments and typically subsides when we go back inside.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
It is difficult to say what is happening there with Luigi as there are many possible triggers and causes for him to suddenly attack; this doesn’t seem like rage syndrome (or similar conditions) since it occurs only at a particular time when you’re taking him out. You should look at what possible triggers there are and show him that they are nothing to worry about; however if this continues you may need to consult a trainer. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Taffy
English Springer Spaniel
8 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Sudden rage attack for no reason

Medication Used

Thyroid

I have a 8 year old B&W springer, had him as a pup. He is very loving. But does have aggression issues if tired and wants to stay in the car. My dad looks after him at his house every day taking him on lots of walks and loving him greatly. However this week the dog was sat as usual in between my dads legs get his ears stroked. The dog started growling so Dad stopped and asked what was wrong. The dog went stiff, aggressive and launched at him whilst dad as sat on his chair biting my dads hands and attacking. My dad managed to get up and the dog walked away barking and growling. Then seconds later when he washing his hands/wounds the dog came back as nothing had happened. My Dog is well trained normally but wouldn’t listen. My Dad is now scared to see him which makes the dog nervous. He is on thyroid medication, I took him to the vets yesterday and they have taken blood tests to see if the thyroid medication is correct dosage. Does this sound like Rage Syndrome?

He has done this before but a couple of years ago.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
Rage syndrome is difficult to diagnose and some Veterinarian may not consider this condition; rage syndrome occurs when a dog (Spaniel) is at rest or is being friendly then without provocation will become violent, attacking and not responding to commands then the dog snaps out of the attack and is immediately friendly. It is important to have other conditions ruled out in case Taffy has an eye infection or other issue causing pain whilst being petted by your father. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Ranger
Terri-Poo
5 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

I think my dog may have rage syndrome. He is very loving and playful and never gets angry at any human. Although I do have a chihuahua ( my dogs are both male ) who seems to trigger he rage. Ranger is my dog that I think has rage syndrome and it can be set off at random. Nothing triggers it except the site of my chihuahua, but it’s not always. They play together all the time and sleep in the same bed but sometimes he will see my chihuahua and Ranger will get this blank look on his face and start ithe shake and will lunge at my chihuahua and since he’s so small I pick him up and lay him on his back until he calms down and I will let him go and he will walk up to his brothers and lick him and go about his day. Is there anything I can do to keep him calm? Any medications I could possibly give him from the vet that won’t make him out of it all the time?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
Rage syndrome is an uncommon condition, while aggression is actually quite common. There may be a trigger that sets Ranger off, and it would be a good idea to have a trainer assess the two of them to see what that trigger might be, and how to avoid this from happening in the future. If you do not know a good trainer, your veterinarian will be able to recommend a trainer.

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Ammo
English Springer Spaniel
9 Weeks
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Severe Aggression And Biting

Hi There,
My Springer Spaniel pup can go from loving, to timid, to attacking us all in about ten minutes. However the period of aggression seems to last far longer than anything else. I know puppies bite and teeth at things but this time it seems a lot different. He doesn't just teeth us, he'll pounce on us and try to climb up higher to bite our face. We've tried ignoring him for controlled intervals of time after the biting, but he just does it all over again. I think he could have some separation anxiety and that may affect his aggression but I think it would be helpful to know some of the early signs of rage syndrome in pups. Like I said, I've had many puppies but this one is much different and his aggression is much more severe than any of my previous experiences. What's going on?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
True rage syndrome is quite uncommon, it is important to discuss the case with a trainer and Veterinarian familiar with the condition to confirm whether or not this is the case; typically rage syndrome is a sudden change (like a light switch) from loving to full attack mode without any apparent trigger. It is important to have your Veterinarian examine Ammo to determine if there are any other possible causes for this behaviour before settling on rage syndrome. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Charlie
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
3 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

random growling

Would appreciate your input. My 3 year old King Charles Cavalier Spaniel recently has had what I call growling episodes that seem to appear out of the blue. These growling episodes started about three months ago. The first time it happened I thought something had startled him and that he had reacted in fear. He had been looking out the window of an airplane on a poorly lit tarmac on a rainy evening and there was activity outside the window. He suddenly growled a fierce sounding growl, so I distracted him and he was instantly quiet. Since then, this type of behavior has occurred every now and then and there is nothing that I can visibly see that may have provoked him. Just today, he was sitting on my lap relaxing and all of a sudden he started to growl at me as though I had done something to provoke him----generally, he has such a sweet disposition so I am concerned about these random episodes that he is experiencing. This is potentially problematic since he has been serving as a comfort dog and I am concerned about his well being. I am very attached to this sweet tempered dog and these behaviors are so contrary to his general disposition. Yesterday, he jumped up on the couch, yelped, quickly jumped down onto the floor and then briefly growled. I want to help Charlie, but I don’t know what to do.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. It would be a good idea to have Charlie examined by a veterinarian, as it sounds from your description like that might be something bothering him, or painful, that he is reacting to. Your veterinarian will be able to examine him, determine what might be going on, and see treatments might help.

Thank you.

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Harley
English Springer
5 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

I have a five year old Springer Spaniel he is showing signs of aggression. He growls at my husband and shows his teeth. I was between him and our other dog and he went after the other dog and bit me this has happened 2 times to me and once to my husband. He seems fine one minute and playing with our other dog then the next he flips. It has recently gotten worse over the last month.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
There is no direct treatment for rage syndrome but there are possibilities to manage the condition by paying attention to Harley and looking out for triggers; also medical therapy can be considered but isn’t ideal long term, you should discuss this with your Veterinarian and a Behaviourist to determine the best course of action. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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zack
English Springer Spaniel
6 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Two sudden attacks without warning

I have a six year old english springer spaniel - aggressive towards men, children, other dogs - usually lovable towards me. Two incidents in last three months. First I was petting him - rubbing his stomach - and humming. He suddenly went from relaxed - laying on the sofa next to me - to attack mode. I had a book in my hand, so batted him off - and assume the problem was that he thought the hum was a growl. Last night, I was in bed reading - laying on my stomach. The springer was next to me sitting up - when he is happy, he flicks his tongue - I was rubbing his side with my head - he was acting like a perfectly happy dog - tongue flicking away - then, like a flick of a light switch, turned into a feral dog snarling and attacking. Luckily I had a book in my hand and swatted him away - and just ended up with a bump on my head - and no blood - but I did look for it as it was a quick and vicious attack. In both cases, my hair was probably the first thing he saw when he went into attack mode. Is this springer rage syndrome? Also I do have another dog - and they have learned to get along. The springer snarls at her a lot - she listens - and has only attacked when I was present and that I could stop. Never any blood drawn that I have seen. But now he is suddenly attacking me. I hate to think of euthanasia - don't have the money for extensive vet bills - and don't know what to do - the dog means everything to me - and it tears my heart apart to see his behavior and to think about what probably needs to happen - which is euthansia.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
It does seem like rage syndrome since it is a sudden change from placid to frenzy attack within a second however it is normally diagnosed initially in dogs under three years of age; it can be difficult to diagnose rage syndrome since the incidents occur infrequently and many Veterinarians are unaware of the condition. I would first recommend speaking with a local dog trainer / behaviourist as they may be more knowledgeable on the subject before visiting a Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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China
Beagle Point
3
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

My dog will be fine one minute and then out of nowhere will attack my other dogs or cats. She then acts as if nothing happened. She will bite my family if she is awakened suddenly but never puntures skin

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
Sudden aggression like this is normally attributable to a medical issue, normally involving pain leading a dog to bite or lunge at other dogs or people; I would recommend you have China checked over by your Veterinarian looking for possible causes of pain or hormonal conditions which may explain this behaviour. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Ziggy
Bull Terrier
2 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Aggression

Our 2 years old bull terrier has been attacking our feet, chairs, doors and other random objects, without any triggers. He will suddenly go and attack our feet or objects near him. We could be cuddling him or he could be sleeping, or just standing and he wakes up in a frenzy, no command works, no stimuli works, not even food as a distraction. Seems that he is not there, that the dog that we own disappears for a couple of minutes. We love him and it's hard and heartbreaking that any of the symptoms above described match in some point with what we are experiencing for the last 6 months especially. We are looking for some options other than to put him to sleep, but it seems to be the common solution every time when we are doing research. As time goes on, these attacks are becoming worse. In the beginning it was barking and snarling. Lately he has come at us and even attempted to bite us. 99 % of the time he is the quirky, loving and loyal bully that we own, but it is the other 1% that is the issue. These attacks are untriggered and there is no way of knowing that it is about to happen only that vague look he gets just before. Afterwards he is tired and sad, often wanting to be alone or go to sleep for some time and then he is himself again.

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Frankie
Cocker Spaniel
8 Years
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Depression after episode
Glazed eyes
Often at night
sudden unexpected aggression

I want to share my experience of my beloved Frankie who was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was around 2 years old but I strongly believe this is related to rage syndrome. He was the most loving dog and best friend you could ever wish for. But we had to make the unbareable decision to put him to sleep yesterday because these episodes were getting worse and worse and we could see how depressed and confused he was after them. A lot of people believe their dog has rage syndrome but most of the time it turns out to be a behavioural problem. Our Frankie was the perfect dog, so well behaved and loving. After the first couple of episodes he was put an anti epileptic drugs and the dosage was increased and increased after each episode. They did seem to help at first and make these episodes less frequent but still they became more and more aggressive. It broke our hearts when the last episode made it clear we had no other choice. Afterwards, he was seriously depressed and it was like he wasn’t there, you could see in his eyes and he had other health problems that meant he was in pain a lot of the time. This last event was traumatic for us all, my dad lost half of his finger due to the aggression and we knew that no one could be at risk from this again, it wouldn’t be fair to anyone or Frankie. This last event did something to Frankie, I don’t know whether the seizures could cause scarring on his brain, I feel like they do some permanent damage and each time we lose another part of him. We all miss him painfully and feel the guilt of making this decision whether it was right or wrong and it has always been difficult never having the actually diagnose of rage syndrome but I cannot think of anything else it could have been. So I do understand anyone’s pain who is experiencing this and taking the necessary steps and visiting a vet to rule this out is important as there are many other explanations as to what someone’s dog may have. Rage syndrome is rare and I feel unlucky that our Frankie most likely suffered with it and that is very hard to except but I know we gave him the most amazing life in his 8 years and we took any suffering and pain away from him.

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Fiona
Chihuahua
9 Months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Aggression

I have 8 chi’s. Fiona is the youngest. She growls and snaps in her sleep. She lunges and tries to fight with every dog in the house. Even when everyone is in a restful state. She absolutely HATES to be looked at. Given she is only 3 pounds, when she acts this way I separate her from the pack until she settles down. Episodes only last seconds to sometimes under 5 minutes. Once the episode has passed she is affectionate, loving and playful again. I must admit, the first time seeing this was scary for me and the other dogs. Totally unprovoked. Is there an alternative to medicating her?

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Copper
Springer Spaniel mix
10 Weeks
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Snapping, biting and growl

I have a 10 week old Springer Spaniel mix who is displaying concerning behavior such as described above. Last night my 8 year old son went to pick him up and he snapped aggressively at him and put a mark on his leg through thick pajamas. Most times he lets you pick him up and is very affectionate and then sometimes he just lashes out snapping, growling and biting. He was licking the floor and I went to pick him up and did the same thing to me. He is so young I don't know what to do. Is this rage syndrome?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
True rage syndrome is rare, however there may be other behavioural issues (apart from rage syndrome) or triggers which is causing Copper to lash out; it is important to visit a Veterinarian to check him over for any medical cause (signs of pain etc…) and to discuss rage syndrome with them. Without examining Copper and ruling out other causes, I cannot say if it is rage syndrome or not, especially given the rare nature of the condition. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Frank
Cocker Spaniel
7 Years
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Mild, timid, friendly to aggrssive

We have a seven year old male Cocker Spaniel who was diagnosed with epilepsy approx three years ago and is on daily medication. The dog also appears to have rage syndrome and I am aware that the immediate response is that it is probably behavioural but I am sure it is not. We want to avoid having our little family member put to sleep so are desperate to identify a solution. The dog will be fine one minute, very loving, calm and friendly and will then attack a family member (only, is nervous and timid outdoors). The attaches are vicious and we have had more than eight of these now with family members hospitalised three times. I was lying down recently and he walked up to me laid down next to me and then growled quickly and attacked me. His four fangs were deep inside my wrist and he shock his head to cause severe damage. I have just been discharged from hospital after an operation and have severe damage and will scar. How can we seek help and find a solution?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
It is very difficult to determine the origins of this type of episode, many times behaviour is the main cause but there may also be medical causes too; a thorough physical and neurological examination by your Veterinarian is needed to determine a medical issue or to rule it as a behavioural problem, behavioural issues are more difficult to pin down. It is important to look for any triggers or other actions which occur before an attack which may help to determine a cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Hi I'd like to please try ask on any sort of advice please. I have a lovely young springerdoer dog. He's aged just over 3 years.

Normally he is always playful, loving caring young dog. And he is very protective towards each one of us in family. Being four people in house hold.

Thing is though I know myslef that he has some type of anger aggression in him.

Varies from different aggression.

1) - always doing this with when my two young adult girls come back home from college. Or if to maybe stay out a night. Is that he growls. Which sometimes can be slight growl. But other times loudly. And slightly shows teeth but at same time gives out kisses. (?).

Few times he has slightly snapped when given into trouble by this type of behaviour (trouble by giving out stern voice of telling him NO!).

Even though we all know in house hold that he truly does not mean to act out in such an anger aggression manor. And we all do try our best to deal / handle the ciuation in best way we can.

2)- I've seen him act out in an anger aggression manor at times when anyone at our door. Like most dogs do to bark. Which he does. But also if anything is hanging up on to door such as a jacket. A bin bag. He will bark, jump up and grabbing hold of what's hanging up o door and pulls it. (Which he has torn my leather jacket by this type of anger aggression). Just trting to seek any means of advice in anyway.

We all love our dog so very much. And just want to try help him. Thank you.

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Zeke
Doberman Pinscher
16 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

eyes go blank, becomes agressive

I believe my 16 month old male Doberman Pinscher may have rage syndrome. The most recent one was yesterday. I was sitting on the couch and he came over and got on my lap and fell asleep. I was gently petting him and at one point he rolled over and stared at me as if he didn't know who I was. I knew what was coming because I've seen him do this before. He went into attack mode and grabbed my hand but never bit down, although he has in the past. I loudly and sternly said Nay and he immediately stopped and became this loving dog, like what's wrong. The first time he did this was at around 7 months. It doesn't happen everyday or even every week, but they are scary. He's gone to a board and train and I've taken him to classes specializing in dogs who have fear aggression, which I know he has, but it's the out of the blue attacks that frighten and worry me.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
If Zeke is continuing to have this behavior, he may need to be working with a trainer directly on an ongoing basis. If he has actual rage syndrome, there may be nothing that can be done for him, but that is actually an uncommon condition, and there may be a trigger that can be worked with. If you don't know a trainer that you can work with, your veterinarian can recommend one for you.

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Dapper
Border collie mix
3 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

barking

My boyfriend's brother has a border collie and what we think is lab and maybe pit-bull dog. Although, we are not totally sure of the breed, he does have black and white speckles like a border collie and hes very lean and athletic. They live in a 2 bedroom apartment and the owner works a full time job. When my boyfriend and I visit, the dog is excited to see us, but the dog scares me. He will freak out and go crazy barking, growling, and snarling unprovoked. Sometimes it seems like he has triggers like when someone touches their face, touches another person, or just walks in the room. He will sit with me and my boyfriend in a room and when the owner comes in he will jump up in a barking rage. He can be a loving dog, but we are always tip toeing around never knowing if he will freak out. It can be very scary. He has bit his owner one time. And as I was typing this post he had an episode and tried to bite my boyfriend. I know rage syndrome is rare, but it sounds like what's going on.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
True rage syndrome occurs without any triggers, so you could be petting him for an hour without an issue then he would snap and attack; what you’re describing doesn’t fit exactly with that, it just sounds like he is either stressed and biting out or is a generally aggressive dog. It would be best to discuss this with a local Veterinarian and a behaviourist/trainer which have experience with rage syndrome to rule it out or confirm it. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Max
Basset Hound
4 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Biting attack growling snapping

My 4 year old dog has been diagnosed with rage syndrome & we are having to euthanise him. His attacks come out of nowherenis last attack needed medical treatment, he got a strange lookin his eyes & just went. He knocked y 15 stone husband off the chair & it took me a chair & a towel for protection to get him to stop. Straight after he just sat looking at us wondering why were so mad with him. He reacts just walking past him at times & has started to,get aggressive with other dogs. His first bite was as a puppy. We have made lots of excuses as he has many problems with his legs but he is not in pain. I want to make sure I a. Making the right decision to cross him over before someone gets more seriously hurt.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
With that level of unpredictability, that sadly may be the only decision that makes sense for him. That condition is not treatable if it is truly rage syndrome. If you have not worked with a trainer, that would be the only suggestion that I might have, otherwise euthanasia may be the only option. I am sorry that is happening with Max.

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Khloe
German shepherd mix
9 Months
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Depression

My girl dog act sad all they tail doesn't wag head always down never plays or sit with us she hides under a bed and when walk by she growls we get to close she barks and then bites we stuck things under there and she bites it like an attack dog we don't know what to do any more and I'm getting worried shes like 9 months and shes big and we have a baby dog and when we give him treats shell bite him so I have no idea whats wrong with her

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. I'm not sure how long you have had Khloe or where she came from, but that is very aggressive behavior for a young pup. You would be best to hire a trainer to work with her to see if this aggressive behavior can be corrected. Young dogs tend to learn more quickly, which is a positive thing for her, but I am afraid that your other dog, or one of your family, will get hurt if she is allowed to continue that behavior. Your veterinarian can recommend a trainer that can work with aggressive dogs for you. I hope that things go well for Khloe.

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Pup
Australian Shepherd
3 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Sudden Agression

I am a dog trainer who was contacted by a friend who is a Veterinarian who examined a puppy and got bit. She has been a Vet for many years and is very good with puppies so this is an unusual occurrence. The clients are first time dog owners with two young boys 7 and 9 years old. They reportedly play rough with the pup and puppy is described as mouthy. Pup is an Auusie/BC X. It sounded a lot like Rage syndrome but being that it is a very rare I wanted to see your take on the situation before we meet with client to advise. This is teh description I received:
10 week Aussie. I saw him 4 weeks ago (at 6 weeks) w his litter - everyone looked good, nothing exciting.

Today, my tech started the appointment, including getting temp and vitals - no problem.

I came in the room and he ran over to say hi. I sat down in the floor with him and he was very playful and mouthy, like 90% of puppies. I asked my tech to bring him a chew so he could chew that rather than me. He took the chew and started to walk away with it, but I pulled him back over to me by his harness. No prob. He settled between my outstretched legs on the floor, laying sternally with head facing away from me.

He chewed his chew. I did most of his exam - ears, lymph nodes, abdominal palpation, checked for two testes. I had been handling him, sitting like that for at LEAST five minutes while talking with o. After I was done checking him out, we sat like that and I was petting him (shoulders/back - as I had been) while we talked.

I changed NOTHING, and he gave zero warning - no growl, no freeze, no head turn, no change in posture...nothing...and turned and nipped at my left hand (and missed). I pulled away. He stood there for 1-2 seconds and then actually moved closer and grabbed my hand. There’s a scratch from a canine in the top of my wrist, and more of a puncture/slice/bruise on the side. He tried to come toward me again, snapping - but my tech pulled him away by his leash attached to his harness. He would have gotten my inner thigh if she was any later. 😳

Obviously he dropped the chew while biting me, so once he was pulled away, I stood up, grabbed it and tossed it up on the counter, out of his sight. I said we’d need to do the rest of his exam on the table with no treats, then I realized I was bleeding. Stuck a bandaid on. He was still super aroused when I went back in, and I still needed to listen to his heart and vaccinate him, so I muzzled him (which he accepted pretty well).

Finished exam/vax. He was put back on the floor and laid down like he was exhausted. He was a totally different dog from the one who greeted me.

So...my concerns are as follows:
-He’s 10 weeks old
-He gave no warning. (I’m sure I’m not perfect at seeing warning signs, but my only other bite was a shepherd whose dad had trained him not to growl...no warning, grabbed my arm with his incisors through lab coat).
-He was fine, then suddenly not - with no changes on my part
-he kept coming at me - I wasn’t reacting except to try to push him away without more tooth-contact - he was very persistent
-this family has never had a dog
-family has 7 year old and 9 year old who I’m sure will have friends over

14 years, all the turd shepherds come to me, and my worst bite is from a puppy?! It seemed to me to be very unpredictable, no warning given, and then he persisted in trying to get to me after the initial snap.

I don’t know what I could have done differently. I’ve never had a puppy do anything remotely close to this.

What are your thoughts?

I sent an article on Rage syndrome and she checked with her Tech on whether there was further aggression directed at anyone else and this is the response"
Did hear back from tech. Here's what she said, "Yes, before I pulled him away by his leash, I tried to grab his harness, and he snapped at me and tried to bite before I grabbed his leash and pulled him away. Then when we had him up on the table before you muzzled him I touched his back to keep him from falling off the table and he turned around to bite me then too."
Description of behavior following incident:
It was super weird after the repeated bite attempts how he just seemed very subdued when I muzzled him, and then super out of it on the floor afterward.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
Rage syndrome is (as you’ll know) more common in Springer Spaniels than in Australian Shepherds; it is rare in Australian Shepherds but apparently may occur according to the Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute and occurs more commonly in Border Collies. The description given does sound like rage syndrome, but the breed and age of the pup doesn’t really fit with the criteria of the condition. I would suggest trying to find someone in your area familiar with cases of rage syndrome and get their input during the examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Pretty
Chihuahua
10 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Growling
barking
Snarling
Biting
Attacking
Snaping
Lundging

Seizure Related Rage Syndrome!

My 10 year old chihuahua mix has recently started displaying signs of Rage Syndrome. About 3 months ago we noticed she would growl at us if we moved her or moved while we slept (she sleeps with us cause the seizures) and about 3 weeks ago her symptoms have got worse by the week. She will growl, lunge, bite and snap at everything and anything for HOURS! From the time she wakes up until the time she goes to sleep she growls and it is heart breaking! She has been diagnosed with epilepsy (cluster and grand mal seizures) about 5 years ago and has been on 16grain dose of Phenobarbital 2/2x a day and the medicine does NOTHING for her recent aggression! I spoke to my vet and she did give me options to change her meds, mri to check for brain tumor or put her down! Unfortunately, I have another dog who is getting surgery (a whole mother story) so MRI for her is Not in our budget!
PLEASE- I’m just looking for possible treatment to calm her! I just want my baby back :( she hasn’t played or seemed happy in 3 weeks!

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
In cases like this it is difficult and sometimes even impossible to control aggression especially when there is a long history of seizures; there is nothing that I can recommend to give to Pretty and would strongly recommend you consult with a Neurologist to try and find a balance or some answers for what is occurring. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Bolt
English Springer Spaniel
18 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Growling suddenly

I have an English Springer Spaniel that sometimes has fits of barking. He never lunges at us and only growls during playing.but the other day a female similar in age to him (1.5 years) barely nipped him on the neck and he responded very suddenly with LOTS of growling. We never have trouble with him and other dogs. Could this be an early sign of rage syndrome? And if so what do we do?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. I'm not sure that Bolt is showing signs of Springer rage, as much as normal developmental growth. If he is showing any signs of aggression, it would be good to work with a trainer now, as I cannot see or examine him, and you want to make sure that any early signs are nipped in the bud. Your veterinarian can recommend a good trainer for him if you need one. I hope that all goes well for him.

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Luka
Cocker Spaniel
1 Year
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Randomly attacking, biting
Randomly attacking

Hello my cocker spaniel is one and going to be two this year. She is normally very kind and loving to everyone but sometimes shy to other dogs. All of a sudden she started to attack the two other dogs with no warning or sigh. We can be just sitting and she will attack one of the other dogs. I’m at a complete lost! She’s my best friend and she’s is
my emotional support dog before any of this happened! I don’t want to lose her. Please help me I don’t know what to do.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
True rage syndrome is like a switch where a dog goes from being placid and friendly to full attack mode in the blink of an eye without any trigger; it is important to diagnose rage syndrome correctly and visit a Veterinarian and dog trainer familiar with the condition. There is no specific advice I can give you online apart from looking for possible triggers for the behaviour. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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eddy
Corgi mix
9 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

freezing
no trigger
unpredictable
Snarling
Biting
Staring

I have rescued a dog who is 9 years old. I have rescued many dogs and also have retrained dogs successfully but I have never seen behaviour like this he is so loving and sweet but will suddenly change he freezes and his eyes stare and then he attacks for no reason. Nothing actually happens for this to occur. At times i'll be stroking him and then he'll suddenly spin round and attack. If im laying on the sofa in the evening most of the time i can move a little and it won't be a problem but other times he'll attack badly and I have to use a pillow to block myself and him. He's also tried to attack my other dog for no reason at all. My other dog was just walking around and he just attacked him luckily I got in between and used a chair to block him but their was no reason for it. I have had him vet checked and there doesn't appear to be anything physically wrong with him. He is obsessed with licking people in a loving way. The only thing he is possessive over is random things like toys and bones (only with people, except bones with other dogs so I have taken all bones away). I understand dog body language quite well but cannot for the life of me work out whats triggering these episodes one minute he's fine then he just completely changes for no reason. As an unrelated thing (these things don't have to occur around attack) he hates fly's and will yelp and run away and gets very scared, hates clanging metal so i have to feed him from a plastic bowl and hates his collar being touched or neck (A vet has not identified any problem with his neck) . He is not food proud and will let me touch his dinner bowl absolutely fine. Just one minute he's happy the next minute he attacks. I have had to start crating him at night as he attacked me in my sleep and I had to use a pillow to protect myself. I'm not sure what to do anymore, training doesn't seem to be working as there's no causes and this behaviour is so unpredictable. I have been out on walks and have had to keep a tracker on him so i can get him if people approach and the other day was walking with him and my other dogs and a man walked past not near and he lunged at him a few dog walkers i know very well will stroke him and he's been fine other times he just lunges. I'm at my wits end and I think he might have Rage Syndrome. I'm not an expert or anything I just love animals and have learnt things over the years, as my parents were animal handlers. I just don't know what to do and right now I couldn't rehome him to anyone as he is just to unpredictable. One minute he's fine and the next out of the blue he's like a completely different dog, there's no use telling him off as it just makes him worse and if I ignore it he just goes off on his way and then he's fine if i react it escalates. He's broken the skin a few times but sometimes but leaves big bruises but im not sure if that's because I pull away quick enough. It's like two different dogs in one a dog that's loving, sweet and loves to play with other dogs and please and then a violent, aggressive dog that seems to hate everyone and everything on the other. He also seems to go through stages, he went through a period where for two weeks he was great apart from the odd random snapping and now he's suddenly changed and it have random outburst of aggression all the time and in between be very loving. Please could you help I not even sure what to do anymore. I do rescuing, retraining and then I re-home but I do not think he's rehomeable as id never forgive myself If a dog, adult or child got hurt. There's not even a growl sometimes just attacking, other times he'll just sit there snarling all of a sudden.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
Rage syndrome is associated more with Springer Spaniels than other breeds but other breeds have been shown to present with the same symptoms; the condition is rare and may not be diagnosed when checked by a Veterinarian. You should think about asking a dog trainer familiar with the condition for assistance to see if they can say whether it is rage syndrome or not. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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monty
Cocker Spaniel
28 Months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Aggression

Medication Used

none

have a 28 month tri coloured cocker spaniel. He has show aggressive behaviour to things he finds wont give them up. Been to lots of training classes. However in the last 2 months he is having aggressive attacks over something he thinks he has found. Digging and scratching even concrete , grows full attack mode cannot get near him will not listen almost a frenzie. then it wears out and he is himself. Comes in normally , panting drinks water lies down. These sessions are unpredictable and as we have young grandchildren very concerned as they are getting more frequent.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
I would be concerned about that behavior as well. You may need to actually hire a trainer to come in and work with him, vs classes. A trainer will be able to assess his behavior and advise you on any possible options for Monty. If you do not know a trainer, your veterinarian will be able to recommend one, you just want to make sure that the trainer uses positive techniques.

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