The Administrator from the Great White North, eh?
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Northern British Columbia
From what you have said so far it doesn't sound like your dog has had any type of guard or protection training at all. He sounds like he is a previously neglected, fearful, reactive dog that has never had the leadership and direction he needs to feel confident.
Good news is that he is with you now, and he sounds that with you he will learn that he does not have to go overboard with the killer act to scare potential threats away. With you, he will also learn that the world is a good, safe place, and he won't have to feel that everything is a potential threat.
Bad news is that you will always have to be very vigilant that he does not act out his fear by going after someone or biting.
I would start by taking him to training as you are doing: that is a great way to have fun with your dog, strenghten the bond, and show him that you are in charge. Learning and doing obedience exercises puts you in charge, and gives him behaviours to do INSTEAD of his default going berserk. In addition this dog will need a lot of management, a strong leader, a dependable routine, and a normal active life, which you are providing. If you don't already, implement NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free), and often this makes a huge difference for many dogs.
I for one would not allow him to go crazy in the yard or at the door. Get him in his crate, or train a strong replacement behaviour (like going to a mat and staying there) when people come over. You may have to work on this with friends who help you by coming over and standing at the gate, or coming to your door, while you work on proofing the training.
Remember he isn't acting the way he is because he was trained to act that way, he is acting this way because he knows no different, is unsure, and so far, when he was tied up and scared to be all alone, acting all aggressive scared scary the people away, so the behaviour was rewarded. So not so much that you need to re-train him, but you need to train him and show him that you are in charge, that the yard and house is YOUR yard and house and YOU make the decisions of who is allowed to come and go, and not allow him to make those decisions for himself.
Often, as you starting to see, many dogs really calm down and relax when they start feeling secure in their owner's leadership.
Another thing you can do is to contact a K9 trainer or Schutzhund trainer and have him evaluated to see if he did, in fact, have any guard dog or protection training. Then you will know for sure what you are dealing with.
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Keeta BH, OB1, TR1, AD
Rottweiler/Hairy Dog mix?? 2004-2015