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Discussion Starter #1
Rescue Lab, 2.3 yr. old, Male, Fixed.
Growels/Barks, hair stands up, braced, intense stare at PEOPLE. Anyone that walks by when outdoors, on leash or off, in truck, Basically anyone, anywhere, anytime.
To me, it appears as pure aggression. I am fairly certain this dog would bite given the opportunity. With me, he's a big baby,,, but is scary towards others. I've only had him a month now, but before I get too attached, I need to make a decision here.

From Rescue- Surrendered, destructive, digs, crated 70% of time, plays well with other dogs, recommend adoption by adults only, (etc.)
They said he was a "sweet gentle dog", very eager to please, calm and well mannered.

When I left they handed me a file, after getting home I noticed a couple of issues that they "forgot" to mention.
Bit previous owners 11 yr. old kid,
Vet called Animal Control after dog bit client's kid in parking lot.

Now, I live in a tourist community. Some of these vacationers are stupid enough to think they have freedom to the whole neighborhood and may occasionally walk through / try to pet other people's dogs, etc. (I said they're tourist,, not smart!)
I enjoy a dog that can be trusted off leash and around other people (people friendly?) but, I'm thinking this may never be (reliably)possible with this dog.

My common sense is telling me to make this potential disaster / law suit "go away",,,, My inner feeling say keep working with him.

If this was you in this mess,,, what would you do?
 

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I agree with kaytris. You need to consult a trainer or behaviorist. Barking and growling at people is one thing but biting is another. I am actually very surprised that any rescue would re-home a biter. When there are thousands of good natured dogs in rescues that need homes it makes you wonder.

I enjoy a dog that can be trusted off leash and around other people (people friendly?) but, I'm thinking this may never be (reliably)possible with this dog.
This dog can never be trusted off leash and because of his history of aggression (biting) should NOT be around strange people.

Now, I live in a tourist community. Some of these vacationers are stupid enough to think they have freedom to the whole neighborhood and may occasionally walk through / try to pet other people's dogs, etc. (I said they're tourist,, not smart!)
I would think about using a muzzle for him. That way people should avoid him and that alone should give you a piece of mind. You may not like the idea of using one but you have to face the facts...a dog with a history of biting is a liability. Therefore you should do the responsible thing. In this case, until you consult a professional in person, I think muzzling him when you take him out for walks is necessary.
 

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Contact that rescue - see what they have to say. I volunteer for a rescue, and we cannot place dogs that have previously bitten a person. Unfortunately, that is too much of a legal responsibility. It is also complicated with dogs that are "dog aggressive" as they could hurt a person while aggressive with other dogs. I am very surprised how this rescue works, because we strive to tell the new owner EVERYTHING we know about the dog, and we give them a chance to meet the dog as many times as they want to, before making a decision. It is very hard on a dog to be bumped from place to place.
 

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I agree with Chocolata. We would never have taken a dog into the rescue that had a history of biting. Unfortunately, this dog may never be trustworthy.
 

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Dani said:
I agree with Chocolata. We would never have taken a dog into the rescue that had a history of biting. Unfortunately, this dog may never be trustworthy.
While this sounds really cruel and it used to break my heart, I look at is as there are so many dogs out there that need to be rescued and would choose not to bite. Unfortunately, we can't save them all (foster homes limited, etc.) and so we cannot save those ones.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm not happy with any of this to be honest.
Even with a good trainer,,, or anything I can think of, trust in the future will never be 100%.
Rescue says they will take him back anytime. Their "story" is that so many people exaggerate why they want to get rid of a dog, they go more by how they act at the rescue. They say he never showed any aggression while there. Workers walked him, bathed him, and none of them saw reason for concern. When I was there, neither did I.
My saying,"always shows aggression towards other people" wasn't exactly true. More truthful would be when out he always seems to show aggression at least once. Not at everyone, more like always at someone sooner or later (and sometimes way more frequently than other times). Sorry for being misleading there.
I'm convinced there is a "trigger", but for the life of me I can't figure it out.
I've ruled out skin / clothing / hair color, age, height, sex, dress / clothing, and it's not if people speak or ignore, walk by / wait for our passing / or reaching for him either. I just can't find the "trigger" to what is happening.
Partial "trigger" is if I'm with him. If left alone in the yard, the wife or kids take him for a walk on leash they say he's never shown what they've seen him do with me.
This lead me to think that perhaps I was triggering this action with some body language, but, with him out on the chain and me inside out of sight and still seeing this action I have to rule that out too.
The only thing I can think of is that he thinks he's protecting me (from what I can't imagine). He's also grown very protective of the truck he rides in almost to the same extent.
Strange part is, I've left the house, arranged with people I know to go to the house while I'm not there and go knock on the door, With him out on the chain (fully accessible to intercept at the back door), and with him inside the house. Reports are he'll bark 1-2 times and that's it. If outside he'll again bark 1-2 times, run up with tail wagging and be friendly with others. The dog has never seen most of these folks before so they are unknowns. (Yes, the people were well aware of the history and it was their choice - they are also experienced which may make a difference?)
So, it seems like he is only aggressive when I'm around. But why only sometimes and with what appears to be randomly selected people?
Very puzzling!
Also, If I'm out with the wife and have her hold the leash, everything is fine as long as I'm within sight. If I go around the corner he'll either (literally) drag her to where he can at least see me or choke himself really badly trying.
So, I say it's (because of) me, but how and why? and what to do about it?
Speaking with the trainer at the rescue, the trainer seems to feel it's "me" too. He seems to think it may pass in time. I'm not too sure, nor do I feel comfortable about it.
Sorry for being so long winded, but my original appears way too brief to have given a good idea of the actual situation and in hind sight seemed misleading.
 

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I completely understand why you don't feel comfortable. However, you now have this dog and it is up to you which road you choose. When adopting a rescue dog, no matter what the issue is, you are getting a package. You need to make the call and decide, if you want to give him a chance. I don't know much about aggression and similar issues. Nevertheless, my opinion is that you have once adopted him, and I think he deserves a chance. If you get a professional help (I would also talk to the rescue and see if they would cover a behaviorist - many times they get good prices etc.) and it still does not work out, then you could consider another solution.

We had a rescue girl that had been given up by her owner approx. after a month since adopting her from a shelter. After a few months, they started calling us wanting her back. Saying we miss her and all of that. We could not give her back.... because these people never even gave her a chance and just let her go when things get tough. Rescue dogs make great pets, but they need time, training and patience to adjust.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yup, that's why I'm fighting with myself.
If my crysal ball was still working, it would be so much easier.
Dog is attatched,,, and I am fast becoming that way.
The longer it is allowed the more it becomes an affair of the heart instead of the smart. :(
 

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Their "story" is that so many people exaggerate why they want to get rid of a dog, they go more by how they act at the rescue. They say he never showed any aggression while there.
I am sorry but not only is this stupid but it is HIGHLY irresponsible on the rescue organisations part. If the dog in question has a history of aggression and has bitten in past he should NOT be treated by "how he acts at the rescue". I am not saying he should be put to sleep but what I am saying is that the rescue is in denial. You cannot treat a dog that has bitten as a regular dog and I find it downright unbelievable that they would place such a dog with a family. Dogs with aggression issues CAN be managed and worked with but they are not suitable as family pets.

The only thing I can think of is that he thinks he's protecting me (from what I can't imagine). He's also grown very protective of the truck he rides in almost to the same extent.
Not likely. You won't ever see truly protective behavior from a Lab. They simply don't have it in them. The behavior you describe is probably a mix of fear and territorial aggression.

With him out on the chain (fully accessible to intercept at the back door), and with him inside the house. Reports are he'll bark 1-2 times and that's it.
Can I ask why you have the dog on a chain? this really won't help with his issues and actually might further aggravate his stress leading potentially to more aggression.

Two more questions; do you know the circumstances when he bit the 11 year old kid? what happened?

And have you/would you consider contacting a trainer or behaviorist? in your case I think it is necessary.

In the mean time I would NOT chain this dog up. I think if I remember correctly from your previous posts that you use an e-collar? don't use it for now. It won't help with his issues.
 

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I agree with the others get a behaviorist to help. Never leave the dog outside by itself. When you are walking the dog carry a tennis ball. If the person approaches to pet the dog throw them the tennis ball to catch their natural reaction will be to catch the ball. You might want to consider muzzling the dog on walks.
Olie
 

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Yes Chocolata the dog is riarcher's responsibility but the rescue group was not completely honest in the dogs assessment. If the rescue group had been more honest they may have been able to place the dog with a person who was more qualified to help the dog with its issues. I've been doing rescue for six years and I help many different groups. Sometimes they get so focused on saving a dogs life and don't consider the safety of the people they are asking to take the dog.
Olie
 

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Olie, you are right. This is not how good rescues work. Like Dani and I said, our rescues would not even accept a dog with biting history. My rescue just recently had two issues with aggressive dogs, and I was frustrated but at the end I could see the point you are making - safety of people and society.

We accepted three lab girls into rescue (owner died). Later on we found out that one of the dogs was very aggressive with other dogs. We could not adopt her to anyone as that would be a risk to public and obviously our responsibility. I wonder how established is this rescue as we always worry about liability and loss of our insurance; therefore, we can't save dogs with similar issues. It took me a while to learn that we should save the ones that will make the good call and won't bite, etc...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Trickster-
Here is the site of the rescue http://www.potterleague.org/
Having mentioned my reasons and the desire for off leash, I was a bit annoyed (now disgruntled!) that they conveniantly did not mention this biting in the past. It was especially irritating that the vet's report to the ACO was "forgotten". To me, I've only 1/2 a dog. I'm concerned about taking it fishing, hunting, woods walks which is primary for me to have a dog in the first place. The companionship and the joy of watching him work will not happen (probably).

If it's not protective, then why is it only with randomly selected people? this is what really confuses the tar out of me. I make no reasoning of this action at all.

Chain is attached to a 45 ft. run. gives a total of about 75 X 30 ft. free area. Fences not allowed unless original stone wall or special variance by Town Council. Part of a "Beautification(?)" thing.
Information of the 2 instances is no available - the paperwork that I received has names and addresses blacked out. Claim it's a "Privacy" thing.

I've done training, and a few of the ones that did the door knocking are pro/experienced trainers(?). The dog only reacts this way once to new people the first time (or so it appears). I did bring him back to the Rescue to see their resident "Professional Trainer", the dog was unhappy about the place and acted very different (Maybe thought I was bringing him back?) Anyways, he behaved with all the people for almost an hour. Then someone came to look at cats while we were inside and listening to how I must be wrong with my interpretations when he literally lit up like a dog from hell! Everyone was speechless. And admitted I wasn't exaggerating, but never expected this or seen it before. I asked the person if they would just stop and stand (which they did), I allowed the dog to get closer, he smelt, barked a couple more times, and then sat down and let the new arrivals pet him and all was like long lost buddies from that point on. Needless to say, the Rescue had nothing to say except they will call me if an idea comes up. (really big help!)

As for the E-collar - This is not a E-collar issue or a reason for it's use. I've let him wear it (familiarization)a couple of times, but I'm far from getting to the point where on this dog it has any useful purpose or need at this time.

So far, I've had input from 6 different Trainers that call themselves professionals. They all say, "we need to find out why. What triggers this response..." Well that I know and is the problem. Can't pay a trainer to watch for an hour in their controlled environment because once things are kool with the dog, we may need another 25 or so people to pull the "trigger' again. as mentioned it's not a consistent thing.
example; 4 hrs. on the beach and he may react 1-2 times.
unless I find a trainer that's experienced this before, it could cost hours just to get a plan worked up. If I can identify this "trigger" I'd probably be able to work it better myself because of the time I spend with the animal. Early on, I thought I had it figured,,, Cat scent! Wrong. My daughter has cats and while over there the issue never happened. He actually licked the cat and they got along fine.

The idea of distracting with the ball is moot. This I can do, but it's not identifying the problem. More like a distraction to avoid the problem. I don't see this helping in the long run. May even help to encourage the "Oh boy, I get aggressive and we play! That is good!"

Back to the drawing board. Identifying the "trigger" is paramount. Can't fix a problem if i don't know what it is.

Good thoughts here though and thanks for the input.

I really want to keep him,,,,, but I want the other half of a dog too.
30 days is not long enough to see what is going to be the final results,, but it is time for an honest evaluation as to what may or may not be expected. This part-time / sometimes aggressiveness is new for me,,, appears unusual(?) for others too?
 

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My guess is there is a fear/shyness element going on. I can't recall, nor do I have time to go back and look, but wasn't there an issue with shyness when you first got him?
 
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I understand your wish to work with this dog. I have one sort of like this myself - sharp shy - very alarming reaction to strangers, very territorial, puts out quite a display when she is alarmed about something. But she is 10, has been through lots of obedience training, is under my control and most importantly she has never bitten anyone. She actually has pretty remarkable bite inhibition.

Had she bitten once, I would have worked harder with her. Had she bitten twice - I would have bought her a ticket to the bridge.

As has been said earlier. There are way too many reliable dogs out there looking for homes to invest in a dog that could hurt a child.
 

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If it's not protective, then why is it only with randomly selected people? this is what really confuses the tar out of me. I make no reasoning of this action at all.
It is not protective behavior. As I said before, they simply don't have it in them. Labradors have been bred to work alongside man in people oriented roles for hundreds of years as gundogs, guide dogs, hearing dogs, police dogs, etc. If they were protective or had a wariness of people they would not excel in these areas. MANY people interpret their dogs barking at strangers or 'odd' people as being protective when in reality the dog is probably reacting fearfully to what he perceives as a threat. This fearfulness could be due to many things -- lack of socialization, a bad experience or even the dog having an unstable personality.

Back to the drawing board. Identifying the "trigger" is paramount. Can't fix a problem if i don't know what it is.
In the case of a well socialized pet who has a problem with something in specific -- lets say the dog is spooked by people wearing hats -- yes there is a "trigger". However in your case, as you say yourself, there is no trigger. I suspect it is the dogs unstable personality. As mentioned above by deezeldog 'sharp' is a good way of putting it. 'Sharp' is a term that protection dog trainers use to describe a dog...a dog that will bark, bite or act aggressively for no real reason at all other then having a fearful/unstable personality.
 

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Hmmm,,,, "Sharp."
That is worth considering as an explanation. Sure beats everything else thus far.
Dog gets anouther 30 day grace while I investigate & learn about sharp dogs.
Thanks all. :)
 
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riarcher said:
Hmmm,,,, "Sharp."
That is worth considering as an explanation. Sure beats everything else thus far.
Dog gets anouther 30 day grace while I investigate & learn about sharp dogs.
Thanks all. :)
Just so you know - my dog is wonderful with her circle of people but will never be OK in social situations with lots of strangers. She is a protection breed, and people do not assume that she is friendly (like people assume labs are). You will have to be forever vigilant if your lab is truly sharp. It's not really something that he will get over or you can train out of him.

My girl's saving grace is her astonishing intelligence and biddablity. She will listen to me no matter what is going on or how frightened she is.
 

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deezeldog said:
My girl's saving grace is her astonishing intelligence and biddablity. She will listen to me no matter what is going on or how frightened she is.
What breed is your dog? I think it is great that you have trained her so well and are able to trust her compliance.
 
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