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Woolf is FA - DA and HA when it isn't handled properly. He is the forward type, he is going to make you go away. The full show - hackles, barking, growling, lunging and he has never gotten the chance to but he may go as far as bite.

To brag a little, Woolf has come a very, very long way with the human aggression. For example, Christmas, we had a house full here for dinner. Once everyone had arrived, settled and the typical before dinner convo happening; we were able to bring Woolf out to greet everyone. He was the soft, wiggly guy we know. When he had enough, he found a quiet corner, curled up and went to sleep.

We have long suspected his eyesight, due to early malnutrition, may play a part with the aggression. With exams from the vet and the opthamologist it has been determined the structure of his eye is normal; dilation and light sensitivity is normal. Without more invasive testing it isn't possible to determine near/far sightedness and the drs are not recommending to do this unless we plan on going further with repairs. The $$ just isn't there for what the estimate is on the cost.

This weekend we just about confirmed he can't see at a distance well at all. DH came around the corner of the house and just stood there, silent and no movement, watching Woolf and me playing. This was maybe 30-40 ft distance. Woolf alerted and off he went with the full show. He appeared to set himself up to jump at about 8 ft away, then he saw who it was. He immediately softened, ears soft, not laid back, hackles down, his typical slow tail swing.

I do understand the type dog I have, the precautions that MUST be taken with him. We have fence, gates that are padlocked, he is put away when people first come over or acting dumb ;). His obedience is good except on occasions like this when it is like a light switch it is so fast. He is so far into the reaction so fast he doesn't hear.

I guess I am looking for ideas for scenarios I can set up to work with this added dimension of the eyesight. While something like this weekend isn't expected to occur with other people just suddenly appearing in the backyard, there is always that one chance and I want to get ahead of it.

Just to add, we do have guests over that have been in the backyard with us and no reaction from Woolf except to keep bringing the ball to play.
 

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Wow, you have certainly come along way with Woolf. My take on the eyesight, is that I have read that dogs have poor distance vision. So for example, when I am walking my dog on a loose leash and a loose dog comes running up - when I call my dog to heel - the loose dog will many times go away - it is like - the dog is thinking " I didn't see the human, he can't play after all". For your situation, your Woof reacted to the figure - not the person. There was another thread way back where the person's dog reacted aggressively when the person came home in the dark and entered a back door. Just like your situation, when the person talked - then the dog knew. So for Woolf, the same way - I would just be sure to greet him - "Hi Woolf, I'm home" before he even sees me.
 

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You are describing my dog, Basu. As far as I know he had no eyesight problems. However, his fear (which also manifested in quite a show of aggression) short-circuited his brain. He didn't take time to look or smell first, he was always on guard and would charge anyone (looking much like Cujo) who came onto our property or near my truck. When they would say his name (if it was people he knew well) his body language and voice would change immediately.

I did a lot of counter conditioning and positive reinforcement training with him. He improved a lot over the years (I adopted him at age 4.5 and he had been neglected and abused) but he was never fully trustworthy and always had to be managed.

I would suggest teaching him a place command and also a command that means lie down immediately and other that means relax. I would use super yummy treats for this very important commands.

You may also need to teach him to get behind you so that he understands that you can handle situations for him. In other words, you get to decide whether or not a person is ok, not him.

The key for me with Basu was to learn to read every tiny bit of his body language. Once I understood that I could predict when he was going to go off and I could redirect (and reward) him immediately.

Good luck!

And I assume you have all of the fearful dog training books? Those were very helpful to me.
 

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Sorry, I didn't come back to this sooner. I know I like to see something after typing :eek:


Mary Beth, with everything I have looked up since then on eyesight, it is agreeing with you on a dog's eyesight. Now to convince DH he has to speak up

Vision- How Dogs See - VetInfo

Dogs do not have the ability to focus as well on the shape of objects (their visual acuity is lower). An object a human can see clearly may appear to be blurred to a dog looking at it from the same distance. A rough estimate is that dogs have about 20/75 vision. This means that they can see at 20 feet what a normal human could see clearly at 75 feet.

Ruth, you described Basu like I do Woolf - aka Cujo.

Woolf's default position is on left and to the back of me - on leash. This has been a wake up call that I don't have the luxury of relaxing that requirement simply because we may be in the backyard playing. Normally, Woolf is very predictable to read except for the very few times someone has just appeared on the outside of the fence, and this time with it right there in the backyard, I was to slow to catch the body language.

The fearful dog books? Yes, had a few 'ah-ha' moments reading some of them.
 
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