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Need help fast - Aggressive Dog

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by kodiakchicken, Oct 30, 2008.

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  1. kodiakchicken

    kodiakchicken Songster

    Apr 18, 2008
    Kodiak, Alaska
    I'm writing this with an extremely heavy heart.

    We have a 5 year old golden retreiver/shepherd mix that we got from the pound when she was 6 months old. She had been picked up by the pound and they owner didn't come forward for 2 weeks while the pound advertised that she'd been found. When we went in to get her the original owner came forward and tried to exert his rights of ownership. The animal shelter had to go through a hearing to terminate his rights before we could get her.

    When we brought her home it was immediately clear that she had been abused by a man. She hid under a chair for 3 days and for nearly 6 months my husband couldn't even raise his voice without her crouching and peeing. To this day she gets very aggressive toward men with deep voices and driving big, dark trucks.

    This is the problem, over the years she has gotten more and more aggressive toward people. At first, the aggression was just toward other dogs that would enter the yard. She would chase them out and fight with them if they didn't leave. She still goes after dogs that come in the yard, but has learned to stop the chase if we say no. However, the aggression toward people seems to be getting worse. If she's outside with us and someone walks in the yard, she'll bark but is fine. The problem is when people come to the door. She goes insane and we don't dare open the door without someone having a hand on her collar. Once she sees the person and relaxes she's a calm as can be.

    She's bitten twice. Once was when a friend came to the door and my daughter opened the door without letting me get ahold of Hunny. Hunny lunged out the door and jumped on the guy and bit his elbow, drawing blood but no serious wounds.

    Tonight was the second event. Our neighbor came to the back sliding glass door with her dog (whom Hunny doesn't like) and after knocking gently the neighbor (a women) opened the door before I could get ahold of Hunny. Hunny grabbed the woman's hand, ripped her glove and bit her extremely hard. It drew blood and I think she's going to need stitches. (She wouldn't let me take her to the ER). She felt at fault, because she knew she shouldn't have opened the door, but that's still no excuse for the dog's behaviour.

    Now we have to decide what to do. I don't know how to train this aggression, because it's always circumstantial. Other than the situations I describe, she's got the gentle personality of a golden retreiver. Children can climb all over her, I can leave her in the yard with our chickens, ducks, cats and other dogs and she never is aggressive toward them - overly protective is more like it.

    I know I should have her put down, but she's such a sweet animal overall. It will break my 8 year old's heart (as well as mine) and will impact our older Boston, who's very close to Hunny.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? I've thought about shock collar training, but with her past history, this could backfire, couldn't it? She also might interpret it as abuse.

    We're all in tears tonight because we can't see any other options. And no, I wouldn't rehome her, because that would just be passing the issues on to someone else.

    Please help
  2. ThreeBoysChicks

    ThreeBoysChicks Songster

    Sep 19, 2007
    Thurmont, MD
    I think you should seek the assistance of an experienced dog trainer. And see if they can give you some advice on how to train it out of Hunny. My opinion, Hunny is trying to protect her family. The problem is she takes it too far.

    We had a dog boxer / char pai mix. He was a wonderful dog that loved our family. He was similar to Hunny, no other dogs and no strangers. I went through 2 years of obedience trianing with him and he did amazing. When I was with him, we could walk into a room full of dogs and he would not leave my side. He loved and respected me enough to stay with me and trust me. The problem came when he got out of our yard once and we were not home. He went after our neighbors. They called animal control. When the animal control officer came, he went after them. They said that we needed to put him down. It was the hardest thing we ever did. And to this day, our family has a sad thought when we mention Bart (he was a loving dog).

    Get with a good trainer and see what they can do for you. If your neighbor goes to the doctor, more than likely (depending on the state), the doctor may be forced to report the bite. So be prepared for a visit from an animal control officer.

    Good Luck! I know exactly what you are going through. Do not make any quick decisions. Your heart will tell you the right thing to do.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2008
  3. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits... Premium Member

    May 19, 2008
    Western MA
    well..first question is..has she ever shown any agression(even slight) or dominance behaviors towards your family?...and. did she know this neighbor lady?...i'm so srry for you!..i would hate to have to make this decision!...[​IMG]..
  4. chickens4jojo

    chickens4jojo Songster

    May 26, 2008
    Upstate South Carolina
    Perhaps a professional dog trainer could help. They could be expensive, but perhaps not as expensive as being sued in the future & losing everything? Fortunately, no one has done that yet....it could be terrible all the way around for your family if that ever occurred and especially if anyone was hurt irreparably.

    Best wishes on your very difficult decision on what to do.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2008
  5. Guitartists

    Guitartists Resistance is futile

    Mar 21, 2008
    Sounds like you need to seek the help of a professional trainer, make the hard choice (I have been there myself) or retrain everyone in the house, get a kennel or muzzle and put her up before people open the door so that she is not given an opportunity to bite again.

    It's never easy, especially when they are such a loving member of your immediate family. [​IMG] [​IMG]
  6. Kajunbanty

    Kajunbanty Songster

    Sep 14, 2008
    Fence in the yard, put up signs beware of dog and then restrain her when people are over. If she shows no agression toward the family I myself would not have her put down.
  7. kodiakchicken

    kodiakchicken Songster

    Apr 18, 2008
    Kodiak, Alaska
    Thanks everyone. There are a couple of dog trainers on the island, so I could probably find someone that could help.

    No, she's never shown any sign of aggression toward anyone in our family - even the frequest "stray" children we take in. The kids can have friends over and they can crawl all over her. I can walk up and take her food bowl away from her and she just looks at me (she does growl at the other dogs, but nothing serious).

    When we're in the yard she'll bark at anyone that approaches us, but she isn't as aggressive.

    It's just when people come to the door. I know it's because she's trying to protect us. She did know the neighbor, but she had on a hat, big coat and gloves - and nobody ever comes to our back door, so that was a surprise.
  8. MagsC

    MagsC Queen Of Clueless

    Jul 27, 2008
    Hmmm. Is there any way to "rewire" her thinking somewhat by making some people, especially known ones, a good experience? Rewarding her for being less aggressive? As stated, a trainer could have some excellent ideas. I would recommend that too.
    That said, our chow cross, is very stranger/people aggressive and doesnt like many dogs. He has learned when I let someone in, its okay but hes always watching them. He tolerates my friends but makes it quite clear he isnt THEIR dog or their friend.(One family dog definitely,devoted to myself and daughter) I dont worry because he listens extremely well but we really had to work at it because he too was abused by a man before we got him.
    I am sure she is a smart dog and would get the idea of re-training but I do realize its difficult to know where to start.[​IMG]
  9. TubbyChicken

    TubbyChicken Songster

    Jul 30, 2008
    I must be honest...

    This isn't a problem with obedience...this is a problem with behavior. If you choose to keep her I would look for an animal behaviorist rather than a trainer.

    If she were my dog, I would have her humanely euthanized. Thus far her aggression has been aimed at strangers but her pattern of aggression has gotten progressively worse and more unpredictable. You have a child who could eventually be on the receiving end of this aggression whether intentional or not.

    It sounds like you've given her a wonderful home and it's obvious that you love her dearly...if the attacks continue and she bites the wrong person you may have to part with her in a way that would be even more stressful, and it would be even more devastating if someone were severely injured by her.

    I understand the difficulty you are faced with in making a decision...My heart is still broken from having our elderly bulldog put down yesterday because of behavioral and physical problems. My heart hurts for you...I know how hard this is. [​IMG]
  10. Pupsnpullets

    Pupsnpullets Songster

    Mar 9, 2008
    SoCal desert
    It's very possible to have this dog treated homeopathically. It seems Hunny is way out of balance and that can be corrected. PM me if you're interested and I can send you some links. It isn't super expensive and can have amazing results.
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