Guys I am really upset and worried. Things have escalated in a weird way, and I can't figure out what the connection is anymore. While before, it was happening with my boyfriend touching him, now it's happening with me as well.
Basically, since I wrote this post and saw you guy's replies, my partner and I immediately changed the way we do stuff. We've always been pretty strict and structured so this was not a problem at all. Maximus has always had a regular feeding schedule, regular every day exercise, sleeping pattern, everything. Even this 'nothing is free' is a concept we already apply every day, because that has always been important for me to have a well behaved dog. Even the furniture and couch - he is almost never allowed on them, and the times he is allowed is only if we are also on the couch and he comes up for a short 5 minute cuddle, then gets put back down. He sleeps in the living room and not in the bedroom with us even. Of course we are extremely loving and expressive, but we have structure in order to give him the best life.
Anyway so he's usually the sweetest most gentle intelligent dog. I don't think he's ever shown aggression since that time he was a puppy and for a week or so he got food protective because of the mistakes I had been making. Once I stopped what I was doing, everything was perfectly fine.
So this is what we did: as most of the things did not need changing, we just focused on me stepping back and my boyfriend bonding with him more. So my boyfriend has been the one giving most of the treats in the past couple of days, giving him his meals, and solely taking him out. Again, this isn't that much of a change because in weekends my boyfriend usually does take over to balance it out, but it's been more emphasised.
Then today, we gave him a bath. What we have noticed with Maximus is that after a shower he gets quite timid. He sleeps long hours, and gets really lazy, almost like the wetness makes him feel vulnerable. The thing is we've always thought this was cute and it's always been a 'sweet' thing, he likes to be petted and shown affection during this time. Today after his bath he was doing the similar thing, just laying in his basket and being more sleepy than usual. We usually brush him a few times after his shower, so occasionally we would go and say hi, be sweet with him, give him a little brush and some gentle kisses. As usual, he was fine and enjoying it. Sometimes he will even lick our hands.
Then, I had been studying a bit so I was away. I came back in the living room and my boyfriend told me Maximus had gone to his lap and was nursing. (He often likes to suck on a teddy or something and goes into a trance). Even though Maximus was on my boyfriends lap out of choice (my boyfriend was sitting on the floor with him, not on the couch), my boyfriend said that when he petted his head, Maximus started growling again and baring his teeth a bit. Although I say this as if it's very graphic, Maximus does it quite slowly, it's not full on or anything. I was really surprised. At this point I was at his basket saying hi, and so I turned to him as I usually do, putting on my 'dog mummy' voice and being all sweet saying 'what's wrong with you baby? you feeling sleepy?' etc just cute babbles that he usually loves, and as I was petting his head, he started looking up at us weird. Like we recognise when he's about to be weird and aggressive with us because he goes all stiff and stares at us.
I thought maybe it was because my boyfriend was near or.. ? So I told him to move away, I even told him to get out, but then he turned the stare/focus towards me and started doing the same thing. The growl isn't continuous, it's like he growls a bit at first, then slowly lifts his top lift, but obviously we immediately stop so he stops. I was so shocked.
My boyfriend saw this. I moved away to the couch and decided maybe I could try to get him to come to me and break the trance. When I spoke to him all happily he sort of wagged his tail and reacted as normal, quickly wanting to get up and come, wanting to see us, but then when I petted his face again, he got all stiff and staring and growling. Why is he coming but then doing that? I don't know, I was so confused so I decided to just figure out what was going on.
I let him go back to his basket and was just sitting nearby so observe how he would react towards me. When I spoke as normal, he acted normal. I asked for a paw, and he was so happy to give the paw, it was almost automatic when I put my hand out. But then when my hand went near his face, again he got all weird.
My boyfriend tried to call him all happily as well, and Maximus again happily went over to him, even wagged his tail, happy to be there. But when he petted his face, he would go weird again. He was a little bit more aggressive with my boyfriend for some reason, because he actually got up as if to snap. I got so upset and mad with him when he did that, because it really frightened us. I just said 'no, Maximus, that's bad.' and he actually walked over to me, sat in front of me and watching me. I couldn't tell if he was sorry or if he was doing something weird again. The new thing I noticed was when he was in his basket, he was licking his lips, and I remembered that's a warning sign too of a dog trying to steer conflict. I have no idea why he is suddenly doing this!
Usually he is doting towards me, today he acted as if I was his enemy. I am so loving towards him, we both are, he is like our baby. We think of nothing but his health and what's best for him, and that's even why we have structure.
Anyway, what SUPER confused me was that even at one point, my boyfriend sat at the couch and called him over again, and it was like Maximus had even forgotten what he had done. He happily ran towards my boyfriend and was even in a more playful mood. He dropped down and was showing him his belly (Maximus is so submissive, even when he plays with other dogs, he usually always is on the floor showing his belly. I don't think he even understands what aggression is). So my boyfriend was happy, talking in a baby voice to him, but then suddenly when his hand went near his face, Maximus stopped and went stiff, all the while still showing his belly. My boyfriend moved back really confused, and Maximus then rolled back and lay normally, staring at him in that weird way. Like... what is happening? Such mixed signals.
I really can't help but think it is his hormones.. I mean even if I take the 'bath' into consideration, he has had SO many baths in his 8 months of life. We live in Scotland so it often rains and gets muddy. In these cases, he will get showered every day almost. While on the rare occasion, I have pampered him thoroughly afterwards, he has never even cared. He hardly even notices. But today we didn't even pamper him, he was in his basket the whole time, and the only time we interacted with him was just baby talking and very gentle brushing.
The thing is, Maximus' balls haven't descended. The vets couldn't even find them in his abdomen, meaning they're lodged god knows where inside his body. He is getting neutered this coming Friday, but it's not just because of 'neutering', but we actually have to do this procedure as he could develop testicular cancer and things like that by keeping them up in his body. So I don't know what to think.. is it his testosterone and maybe also this weird condition doing something to his behaviour? Maybe the fact that his balls are up in there, it maybe is producing more or god knows what? I am being as unbiased as I possibly can, because I want to find any problem that I myself am doing or my partner, but I honestly feel that everything else we do is not contributing to this behaviour. Anyone who knows me (or has seen my previous posts) will know how disciplined I am, and so for one it could never be the case that he is being spoiled. But I also am extremely loving (my youtube of Maximus can attest to that).
Just don't know what's going on. :/ I left it for a few hours, came back, and I was trying to feed him treats while gently stroking him, gently going towards his face, so that he can see there is no threat. Perhaps give some positive reinforcement. Like maybe he had a frightening dream or something. He was happily taking the food, but then growling when I touched him.
I feel like he hates me/us and I am so upset. I love him so much
[Edit: P.S. Yes he has had obedience training before. His obedience training has been at home as well as in class - we've always been consistent and kept on with whatever we learned. He honestly is the most intelligent dog and picks things up so quickly. A few months ago I was trying to teach him how to walk nicely beside me. He picked that up so quickly - when we are out, he is such a considerate walker. Even while he was being weird with us today, at one point he saw some plastic thing on the floor and I naturally said 'no, leave it', and he immediately left it. Even while in that mood he was listening and everything.]
[Edit Again: I probably should be explaining this to my Vet and I will this coming Friday, but in case anyone else could relate to this experience and share any answers, Maximus also has this really weird excessive discharge from his genitals. This is why I think now maybe it's related to his hormones. I did read up and I also spoke to my vet on the phone, and they said generally it's normal and healthy for a male to show that, but we don't actually know what healthy and normal looks like. It must be at least a little strange though that Maximus has so much discharge that we often find drops of it on the floor. If he does get up anywhere, he leaves marks on the couch/bed, like these stains. Also - I'm really sorry this is so gross, but it's green. At first it was like.. yellow.. but it's seemed green this past week. His genitals is basically always covered in it and quite drippy. He does clean himself, and as you read above he gets showers often, but yet it is still excessive. I haven't owned a male dog since I was a little girl, but I've had friends and family who have had male dogs... come to think of it, I had never seen anything like this with them.. ]