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Hello,

I hate to have my first post as a worrisome question, but I've searched and absorbed so much information on this board, I felt my situation is different enough to warrant another question.

Our GSD is approximately 6 years of age, she was raised for show and imported from the Czech Republic when she was a puppy, she had a litter around age 3. Her owner died from an accident and she was placed into Foster care and we adopted her 20 Nov 2010. She was been an outstanding dog, gentle, friendly with our cat, dog aggressive, but I expected this and have no issue with dog aggression as she is rarely around other dogs.

The aggression is relatively recent, within 2 weeks:

First incident: Friend visits us for a couple of hours. She plays with Mona, pets Mona, is a dog person herself. After a couple of hours, she has to leave, walks to the door and as she is about to leave, Mona charges and bites her calf, not breaking the skin, but extremely scary. I grabbed her in motion, walked her to another room and had her lie down and stay.

Second incident: Friends (husband and wife) visit for dinner. They are dog people as well, pet Mona, play with her, etc. The wife turns her back to look at some wall photos and Mona charges and bites her calf, no serious injury as I was there to grab her again.

The only correlation between these incidents is that these two women look extremely similar: short dark hair, 5'6" ~ 120 lbs. Could this look like a woman who had abused her in the past? Could she look like the person who removed her pups when born?

I've looked into and having a thyroid test done this week, but she shows no other signs of the thyroid issues discussed here, i.e. itching, weight gain, etc.

It is as if Mona suddenly "lost track" of these guests, thought of them as "new" people in the home and went into defensive mode. I am at a loss at the moment and wondering if this is something commonly encountered. This is my 3rd GSD, but the first adopted.

Any help or conversation is appreciated.
 

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Do you often have guests in your home or this unusual? How does she react when you or another family member leaves the room?

They are really just questions to make you think, I don't have any advice. Honestly, this situation is a case where you should really called a qualified behaviorist/trainer to come in and evaluate.

We can all speculate with you about what might be going on with her but we are missing so many subtle signs by not being able to witness it in person.

I helped a local trainer work with a rescue who was doing something very similiar to this over the summer. For this dog, he had been through a lot and was very sensitive to change in his environment. He would let people in but lunge at them when they tried to leave the room. We weren't able to help him and the owner decided he was too unpredictable with her kid and his friends in the home.

I hope someone can recommend a good behaviorist for you to contact.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply. Yes, we often have friends and family over, usually on Saturday or Sunday nights for dinners, etc. She has been on vacation with us on two occasions and was friendly to kids, etc. You are right in that we didn't watch her so close with regard to the guests as we've never encountered this behavior before. We have a call into a counselor, but since this happened Saturday, we have not gotten a return call for advice or observation. Thanks again for taking the time.
 

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Since it is a sudden change in behavior, I would still have the thyroid tested if you can. You'll need to do some research about what specifically needs to be run since most vets aren't up to speed on the thyroid and aggression issue. My understanding is that specific panels should be run that aren't apart of normal thyroid testing.

I hope you'll come back and keep us up to date on your progress when you hear back from the trainer and starting working with her.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Since it is a sudden change in behavior, I would still have the thyroid tested if you can. You'll need to do some research about what specifically needs to be run since most vets aren't up to speed on the thyroid and aggression issue. My understanding is that specific panels should be run that aren't apart of normal thyroid testing.

I hope you'll come back and keep us up to date on your progress when you hear back from the trainer and starting working with her.
Yes, I am definitely requesting a full panel for the Thyroid, the information here has me convinced it is at least something to have done, regardless if it is the underlying cause. We've also enlisted a private trainer to "play the role" so to speak, so he can attempt to place himself in the similar situation these women were in. I will definitely report back on any findings.
 

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She only becomes aggressive when she thinks the guests are leaving, and shows no aggression when they initially come in?
 

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Darn, Cesar Millan 'cured' a dog with the same problem, wish I could remember what he did.
 

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This sounds a lot like a recent episode of "It's me or the dog" where a yorkie did the charging/biting when people were leaving the house, but was otherwise fine. They played games where 100% of the time, the dog got a treat or ball throw in the opposite direction so that the people could leave, NILIF implemented hardcore, and the dog recovered well and stopped the behavior.

HOWEVER, since this is sudden, I would also suggest the thyroid test. Idk how much your vet charges, but Hemopet.com (Dr. Jean Dodds) has very reasonably priced testing and the vet is a specialist in her field in thyroid issues.
 

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If that is the only behavior the dog is manifesting it seems that getting a thyroid test would be an unnecessary expense. If it were the thyroid I would think that there would be other such behaviors because the thyroid doesn't act up only when people are leaving the house.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
She only becomes aggressive when she thinks the guests are leaving, and shows no aggression when they initially come in?
On one occasion, the guest was leaving, the other, the guest had been here for about an hour and we were just standing chatting. She actually brings her kong to the door when guests arrive. She has not done this with family members (Sister, Pop, Mom, in-laws)
 

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Is it aggression or attention-getting?
 

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Herding Behavior

I've had a similar experience.

My 3 year old GSD would try to prevent my daughter from leaving the house. He would run nervously along side of her with his muzzle against her front thigh as if trying to prevent her from leaving. All the while he performs the GSD whine. As soon as she would close the door he would bark and growl. He has nipped at her butt several times.

She now makes him sit and stay as she exits the house. This has worked pretty well, and every day he shows less anxiety as she leaves the house.

He then tried to herd my wife in the same manner. However, he got a quick correction and hasn't tried it since.

Good luck.
 

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If that is the only behavior the dog is manifesting it seems that getting a thyroid test would be an unnecessary expense. If it were the thyroid I would think that there would be other such behaviors because the thyroid doesn't act up only when people are leaving the house.
Thyroid issues cause sudden behavioral changes, which can manifest in any sort of quirk or aggression issue. There are plenty of cases of thyroid issues found in dogs that displayed no other symptoms than sudden behavioral changes. I am testing my dog's thyroid for issues because he is aggressive with the vet, which started manifesting after a year old, suddenly, and abnormally. He has no other symptoms, but it is good to rule something out even if it is expensive, because then you know behavior mod WILL work. It could be detrimental to the dog and frustrating to you if you work on behavior mod that will never work because of an underlying issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
We may still pursue the thyroid exam, and we have enlisted the assistance of a trainer to play the "guest". It is just difficult to see this as attention getting since she's so sweet around everyone, kids, family and men. I have a feeling there is something to the appearance of these two women, they are nearly identical in every way. I hope to have some answers soon. Thanks everyone for the help. 30 years of GSDs and have not experienced this behavior and hate to think what would happen if a bite would have occurred.
 

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Thanks all for the suggestions so far. We have had a professional trainer at the home to evaluate Mona, try to get her to lunge/snap. She was unable to see any aggressive traits in her. We will have to keep her under close eye when guests arrrive I suppose, or chalk it up to being in a new environment, possibly triggering some anxiety as to whom is accepted in our home, their smells, quirks, etc.
 

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Hey from another Sacramentian! Is east Sac now separated from the rest of us? lol
I am in the Natomas area...by Arco (or whatever the new name change is now) . Did you find a trainer yet that has helped?
Beautiful Dog btw! Zeus and I are always going to local doggie parks since we have so many, have you been to any of them yet or waiting on the training / behavior adjustment?
 

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Hey from another Sacramentian! Is east Sac now separated from the rest of us? lol
I am in the Natomas area...by Arco (or whatever the new name change is now) . Did you find a trainer yet that has helped?
Beautiful Dog btw! Zeus and I are always going to local doggie parks since we have so many, have you been to any of them yet or waiting on the training / behavior adjustment?
Thank you, and we have been in contact with someone from euro-trainering.com, and we will be taking her to be examined. From the phone conversation with the operator, he feels she may have had some protective training in the past. He noted some "triggers" when we discussed the situations with him. He advised NOT to take her to dog parks, as she is very dog aggressive, as was my last GSD, especially the little white dogs that like to run up to her.

and no, E. Sac is not separate, but every time I use "Sac" on forums, folks want to know the area. We are moving to Land Park within a month, so I guess that is S. Sac LOL
 

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Maybe this is herding behavior? It sounds like during both incidents people were turning away?
Yes, both turned away and had their hands in the air, one waiving keys, the other pointing to a painting. I've not been able to emulate the behavior.
 

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in each case your guests paid a lot of attention to the dog , petting her , playing with her . What would happen if everything in the scenario were the same , except that the guests came in to visit with you and totally ignored the dog ?
 
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