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Discussion Starter #1
I had an episode with my 16 month old neutered male yesterday that has left me really rethinking what I have been doing with him.
He has been dog aggressive with other males for a while now. He is not the type of reactive dog that throws a fit when he sees another dog. Nor does he have a problem with my 4 year old neutered male GSD, although I have stopped playing any kind of game with them together since I saw that as just asking for a problem and it set them up to compete with each other.
Anyway, he has been dog aggressive in that if he is approached by another male dog (intact or neutered) he will get very stiff and still and then launch himself at the other dog regardless of what posture the other dog is taking. It took some work to get him to the point where he will ignore other dogs unless approached, but he responded well to the focus work and I thought he was managed well.
So, yesterday we were out sheep herding (which is our sport of choice). We left the pasture after our run and I leashed him at the gate. I was standing with a few other people, talking about the run, and a unleashed dog approached us. This is a female that my dog has played well with both on and off leash in every other interaction they have had over the past year (maybe 11 interactions in total). Never a problem. They sniffed each other, did a meet and greet on both ends. I saw my dog get really stiff, and tall. I took a step back, and called his name. He launched himself at the other dog. Lots of noise. The other dog rolled backwards out of my dog's reach and my dog launched forward after her. He hit the end of the leash and in a flash turned back and bit me twice, on the middle part of my inner thigh.
It was redirected aggression. He hit the end of the leash and was reacting to the frustration of that. It was over in a second. He made no appeasing gestures, just wanted to stare down the female. I had no broken skin, but within a couple of minutes the whole area was swollen and very sore. I have a very black and purple bruise from just above my knee to halfway up my inner thigh. Each bite mark bruise blossomed into one big one.
My husband is upset and wants me to send this dog back to the breeder I purchased him from last year. I have to say that he hasn't been the easiest dog to raise, and there have been a couple of times where I felt like it wasn't working with this dog and my home. But I have stuck with it and I thought we were doing well.
I have contacted the professional trainer I did formal obedience with and he is open to working with me. He said a couple of times on the phone that it could have been worse, although there are some very sobering concerns. He is familiar with the dog, with me and he owns and loves the breed. He is experienced with aggression as well. It will take almost two weeks before we can get together, though.
I just don't want to be one of those owners that have an excuse and a justification for everything the dog does, no matter how dangerous the behavior becomes. But I don't want to be someone who quits a dog, either. And to be honest, I have very little desire to work with him right now. I'm doing because I have to, there isn't anyone else to do it. But I don't look forward to interacting with him.
Anyway, this is my sad story. I hope it ends well.
Sheilah
 

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I also have a 16 month and they do go thru stages, don't give up. Maybe your dog( you never mentioned his name) feels your stress...Do you practice NILIF? Your last paragraph sounded as if you may be afraid of him(I don't blame you after being bitten), but he may feel your level of emotions and is reactive with it. Maybe he was pushed too far during the herding lesson, and the female ramped up his frustrations. Give him another chance, remember he is really still a puppy. Good luck with him, and I agree with you, don't "quit" him:))
 

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I hope your leg heals up ok. It sounds like your dog felt threatened, most likely because he was tied to the fence and the other dog was loose. And it also sounds like he gets very wound up and has trouble coming down.

Have you see the book, "Click to Calm?" I find that it has a lot of great suggestions for working with dog aggressive dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the replies. I want to explore the question of if this could be a form of extreme leash aggression once we are with the trainer. Although he wasn't tied, he was leashed.
I am bummed for two reasons. First, he mauled me. Not the person that was closet to him when he was restricted by the leash from following the second dog, but me. And he escalated his behavior suddenly. There have been no warning snaps, no growls. One day he respected the limits of the leash, and the next he didn't. I don't have enough experience to handle this behavior on my own, but I do have enough to know signals and body language. He hasn't shown any signs of redirected aggression, or any aggression towards humans, ever.
I don't think I am afraid of him at this point. But I do think I am not too pleased with him and don't want to spend much time with him right now. I have continued all normal activities, such as play time and walks. But it is fairly mechanical.
He was calm and settled down when we came out of the pasture. He was tired, had been working the sheep for a good 20 minutes, when we came out. He had taken several drinks and had a chance to settle down. He was sitting at my feet when the other dog approached, which is something that has happened many time before without problem. He wasn't tied, he was leashed and I was holding him.
I have actually read and used "Click To Calm" when we were working with his fearful reactive behavior with strange dogs when he was younger. I believe that without that work he would be one of those dogs that just falls apart when they see other dogs, with lots of noise and posturing. He is not food motivated, but he loves his tug toys, so I used that instead of food in the c/t cycle.
I don't know. I guess I am just tired. Burned out. He has been the most difficult puppy I have ever raised. He is cat aggressive, and my own 5 cats are not safe with him. He can't be loose in the house because of that (only if I have rounded up the cats and locked them in a bathroom). He is not reliable around my Pug, so they can't interact. He had even decided to challenge my 4 year old male GSD. After changing my own behavior when they were both out playing with me, that was nipped in the bud by that change on my part and the fact that my other male was able to use his bigger size and experience to retain his status.
And I have been notified that after witnessing the incident on Sunday, a couple of people have expressed concerns regarding my dog's continued participation in herding. Wonderful. No decision will be made until we have talked about ways to keep other people safe from him. She mentioned requiring a muzzle whenever he is out of my car as a possibility.
I have a lot riding on what the trainer has to say once we have a chance to start working on this.
Sheilah
 

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I am not an expert but I will give you my thoughts on what happened.

I think it was misplaced aggression. You may have thought he was calmed down but he actually wasn't. Some dogs can turn it on and off like a light switch, others need work and training and it isn't so much that it is an off, as much as it is a trained platz. Platz means you don't move, period, until you (the dog) is directed differently.

I have a strong willed hard female and I have learned that you don't give her an inch because she will take the mile and then some.

So I think this is fixable, you might have to change your awarness and mindset. You can't assume that you dog is settled, you make sure that he is settled and if in doubt, when you want to socalize the dog goes in the crate to chill out.
 

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The good news is your dog is only 16 months old and that, to me, is a good thing.

And I don't blame you for being leery of your dog at all. It can be very scary when your dog (big dog) turns on you in a flash. What I would do though is make the arrangements for more organized and formal training that is calming and controlled. The excitement of the sheep and herding may be adding to your dogs lack of control in general.

NOT saying you have to be a Dictator with an iron hand, but more of a routine and vigilance on what's what in the home. Have you read The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell? Really great book and NOT about obedience, but how to gain the upper hand in tons of small ways thru out the day/house.

Also may want to try the NILF program.

http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm

http://www.dogo.org/Education/NILF.htm

http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/nothingfree.htm
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yes, "The Dog Listener" is a good book and one that I have read and owned for some time. I have always practiced NILIF, from the moment he got off the plane as an 11 week old puppy.
I have had periods of just being exhausted with this dog. As I said, he has been very difficult in many ways to raise. Not the easy, moderate drive pup I paid $1,700 for. He has not been a good fit for my companion home, with hobby activities. But I committed to him, and short of putting him on a plane and sending him back to the breeder, he is not going any where.
My husband wants him euthanized. Now. He is worried that if the dog goes back to the breeder she will pass him on to someone else and he might end up really hurting someone. That is not an option that I am considering, but I understand where my husband is coming from. We have an 8 year old son that just as easily could have been the one injured by this dog. We live in a suburban neighborhood, your typical subdivision. We manage his fence running and posturing in response to movement behind our back fence by NEVER having him outside without direct supervision, so we can step in and remove him to the house before he blows through the fence.
Sheilah
 

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From my experience a dog aggressive dog will redirect aggression to person attempting to control him.This is NOT easy problem to solve from my experience and I am sure more experienced owners will log in.Just to say my dog has NEVER threatened or bit another human.this type of agression seems to me to be directed at 'pack leader'and emerges only when you do NOT or ARE not able to keep your dog from 'red zone'for whatever reason.This type of bite behavior does NOT seem to translate to human aggressive (other than pack leader)aggression.
 

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He bit you because you stopped him from doing what he wanted to do, he didn't bit the closest person because they aren't the one who stopped him. What you did was so close to breaking up a dog fight, many many people have been bitten by their own dogs while trying to break up a fight. If your dog would have been teether to a post or a tree you would have seen the same reaction when he hit the end of the leash, he would have wheeled and lashed out at the post or the tree. He was in full blown fight mode, not an easy thing to handle even for a skilled handler.

I have no problem with you not doing extra stuff with him right now. There are some who believe in a program called social isolation, where the person only feeds, waters and potties the dog, they don't talk to them, no eye contact. This can turn around a dog who has a willingness to please, he/she feels shunned and will try to make contact with the handler.

I hope the trainer is able to help you guys.

I wanted to add there is no shame in saying a dog isn't a match for you or the dog is a bit too much dog. The shame is in not trying to fix the situation or in really unable to come to terms between you and the dog finding the dog a new home or returning to the breeder. Some dogs and some people just don't mesh, they can be like oil and water.

Val
 

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I may be misreading, but this is what I glean from your post.

You have a dog that you aren't confident that you can control. You are worn out with the dog, don't trust the dog and worry the dog will hurt you, your son or another. Your husband is opposed to the dog remaining in the household, indeed, wished to pts.

The trainer may have ways to control the pup, but are you and your family willing to spend time, money, effort and risk to make this dog part of your family?

Good news is that you are trying to find an answer.

I'd suggest you ask trainer if he/she can find a suitable home for this dog - insist on disclosing all your problems and misgivings to prospective new home - and be willing to give the dog to them. Do not take money - a liability for you in the future.

I once had a GSD that was too much for the neighborhood conditions and I paid to have him boarded with a good trainer until he could find a good home, an experienced handler, and had both dog and family evaluated for suitability.

Breeder was not a quality breeder - learned the hard way - and did not want the dog returned to them, I certainly didn't want another GSD from them.

Broke my heart to give him up, but it was the right thing for this dog and my family and neighborhood at the time.

Your pup doesn't sound like a dog I'd just 'put down,' or give up on. In your situation, I might think of rehoming.

Good luck.
 

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YOu poor thing. I do not know if this makes me a bad person but I couldn't do it. God forbid Quincy and I ever get to that fork in the road. I seriously think I would send him packing.

Good luck with the trainer.

Like Dr. Phil would say "the only thing worse than having the wrong dog for 16 months is having the wrong dog for 16 mnth and 1 day"


Again I TRUELY wish you the very best.
 

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Is it common for a dog to be dangerous with cats & dogs it's been raised with since it was a young pup?

Is it predatory aggression he displays towards the smaller animals in your house? This guy seems to have all bases loaded on the aggression front. It's no wonder you're worn down & exhausted.

Regardless of what you ultimately decide, this is a very tough decision. I wish you well & your problem child, too.
 

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Hugs to you and kudos for all you have and are doing for your dog - you are in a difficult situation.

I read that he is neutered so it is unlikely that the behaviour he is exhibiting is hormonally driven. I wonder if he has some other health issue going on - maybe a vet check is in order.

I also would be seriously considering a muzzle for him as that, at least, will prevent another bite. Sometimes, when a dog knows they cannot bite they will calm down .... of course, sometimes it does not have that result but I feel it is worth trying.

I cannot offer any other advice as I am not experienced enough to do so and I do not want to risk making matters worse for you when you are already stressed and injured.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
zyp, I purchased him as an 11 week old puppy from a breeder that had a great reputation. There are several people on this board that have dogs from her, and I have never heard of extreme behavioral issues with the dogs that she breeds. But feel free to PM me, since there have been other issues in the last couple of years.
I could not place him in a home with this behavior and no rescue would take him on. I do rescue and I know what the liability issues are if you place a dog that has bitten. The choices I have are to send him back to the breeder, who may or may not respond to that request. I can euthanize him. Or I can keep working with him in the hope that something will improve.
I have worked with a local trainer over the years who trains bomb detection dogs on his own time and is the head dog handler for a local police department. They want the high drive dogs that have washed out as pets due to their drive. But the dog has to be civil. They wouldn't touch this dog with a 10 foot pole.
I have to say, that I am not the typical person who purchased a puppy, had problems and then kind of lurched around looking for solutions. I have decades of experience with dogs in general and the GSD in particular. I can't imagine what more I can do to improve the situation with this dog. I might be biased, but the home I provide is a good one. If I can't manage him, I have no reason to believe that any other companion home would be able to either.
This is difficult. This is a dog that I have spent hundreds of hours training, a dog that has lived with me for over a year now and a dog that I have spent thousands of dollars on all together. I am the person that comes along and fixes the messes that others get into with a dog. I am not the one that has a mess with a dog. I am having a very hard time wrapping my mind around this situation fully.
Sheilah
 

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Discussion Starter #15
RubyTuesday, it isn't uncommon for a dog to have such a high prey drive that smaller animals aren't safe. I feel like I should have been able to proof him enough to make MY small animals safe. Considering that he was raised with these small animals, and the rules have always been in place. It wasn't a situation where is was cute to see a puppy chase a cat, and then not so cute any more. It has never been okay to chase a cat here. But that hasn't changed the behavior.
For the cats and my Pug, I think it is predatory aggression he displays. For the adult Rottie he started to challenge last summer, I think it was dominance aggression. Before my Rottie died due to complications during a surgery to remove stomach blockage, my problem child would challenge him. He was 6-7 months old and starting fights with an adult male Rottweiler that weighed 106 lbs. The Rottie, by the way, was rock solid with other animals. Those fights would have ended much differently if he hadn't been.
So far there have only been a couple of noisy altercations between my adult GSD and this youngster and they were nipped in the bud by not playing games like fetch with both dogs at the same time. So far it seems that my adult GSD is the higher status dog and Tanner seems okay with that.
With strange dogs, I have always thought it was a gender based fear aggression. He only got nervous around other male dogs, regardless of their reproductive status. Or his, for that matter. But the altercation on Sunday that precipitated the bite on me was with a female dog that he is totally familiar with. So, the gender based idea is no longer a sound one.
I have always sat down and figured out a plan of action with this dog. If it was something that I felt was beyond my experience, I have been able to call on professionals for guidance. I might have been burned out at what has sometimes seemed like the constant need for refined management with him, but I have to admit that I feel like I have hit a really big wall with this. I am not sure that I want to manage this kind of behavior for another 12 years.
I don't want to be one of those owners that say their dog is solid as long as the moon is full, and the wind is blowing from the south-west and they are dressed like a monkey and have plenty of tennis balls to throw. You know what I mean? We have all seen people like that. I don't want to be that person.
Sheilah
 

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Sheilah, some times a humans personality and a dogs personality just plain don't mix. There are good dogs that one owner thought was a really bad dog because the personality issue.

Just a thought, since he lashed out at a dog that he was known and played with, has your dog had a complete physical with full blood panel to make sure that there isn't an under lying issue for the most recent behavior?

Val
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Yes, I took everyone in last month for shots and check ups. Because he has had some health issues in the past I wanted to get a good idea of where he was at physically, so he had a full blood work-up done. He has been gaining weight so well, which has been a struggle in the past. I wanted to know that he was doing well on the inside, too!
This is the healthiest he has been since I have had him. He looks stunning.
Sheilah
 

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Originally Posted By: sit,stayYes, I took everyone in last month for shots Sheilah
Did the youngster get shot(s)?

By the way, I'm sorry to hear it's so rough.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
No, Tanner did not get any vaccinations since he had them all done when he was neutered and didn't need them. My other two dogs did need theirs, though. I thought I would get everyone a check up when the other two were in for shots so I would only pay for one office visit.
Sheilah
 
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