First bite - VERY LONG post
I have been too embarrassed to post this story, and also afraid of the responses I will get, although for the most part I have had only one or two people criticize me here ever. Mostly I have received nothing but great advice and I have learned a lot. So here goes because I need any help or ideas I can get. Bear with me on the back story; what ultimately happened is that my dog bit my 76-year-old mother.
Hank is just over 2 years old. A few months ago, while walking him, he was startled by two teenagers who came running around a corner toward us. He was so scared he ran toward the road and I had to pull him so hard to keep him from going in the road that I fell down onto my knees (and the kids laughed.)
Since that incident, he has been more fearful of people while we are out walking. He will now occasionally bark and lunge at mostly men or anyone on a bicycle although whenever I see anyone coming I make a wide berth between us and them. I understand that barking and lunging is a fear reaction, and before the incident where I fell down he only lunged once or twice in all the time I had him.
He has also gotten somewhat worse at walking, and I admit I need to be firmer and correct him more. I don't mind if he walks ahead of me but my arm has to be straight down by my side, if it's pulled forward then he is corrected. Mostly he seems to want to pull to the side to sniff things more than he used to. I don't mind if he goes out doors in front of me, but he will sit and wait if commanded. He sleeps on my bed.
He only sees my parents a few times a year. He was always fine with them until they came down in September; he barked at both of them although I told them to ignore him, not make eye contact and keep their hands by their sides. I think they are both very afraid of him and I think he senses that. Just to show how odd this behavior toward my parents is, I had an appliance repair man in the house a few months ago, and Hank loved him, and it turned out the guy was a creep who spoke to me in a suggestive manner and even touched my leg (Hank didn't see that part.)
I took Hank to my parents' house for Christmas last week because we were staying overnight. He continued to bark at them any time they entered a room where he was, so I kept him separated from them and/or in his crate. Christmas Day, we were getting ready to leave, his crate had been packed up, my Dad, my two teenagers and myself were sitting in a room together and my mom walked in. I had Hank on a leash. Hank began barking. I told my mom to ignore him but as she walked past he lunged and nipped at her shirt tail and got her hip while he was at it. He didn't break the skin, I think he really just meant to grab her shirt, but still COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. He has never done anything like this ever before and I am devastated. My parents both forgive me, but I do not forgive myself, and want to know what I have done wrong.