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I am new to this site, but I have been searching for answers everywhere.

My wife and I got Rita, our golden, at 6 weeks old. Now we know that was way too early and wonder what socializing she missed. Be that as it may, she has been the usual puppy with the usual issues. Lots of mouthing and biting, especially hands, despite persistent "leave its" and lots of positive play, walks, and fun time. We took puppy classes for 6wks and she nailed it - she listens very well and responds excellently to all our commands. She can do all the usual without fail (sit/down/stay/shake etc..) as well as anything else we throw at her. She learned "go to bed" in a day. Also, she is unfixed.

Our problem is relatively new "nasty dog" behavior. It began with possession issues and she bit me quite hard once when she was chewing so sweetly on my lap. now, any high priority treats (like bones) she will guard: stop when you get close or she feels someone near, growl low and bar her teeth, and she will lunge at you (though never bites except that first time) She will bite "at" you but not with the intention of hurting you.

Recently (last month) this behavior has gotten out of control. Now, if she is laying down anywhere in the house, sitting in her kennel, or other simply random times, she goes through the same defensive/aggressive steps. She gets stiff and closes her mouth, will growl and show teeth slightly, and if you dont back away, she will lunge, bark, and gnash viciously. The odd thing is, after, she will calm down, wag her tail, jump playfully at you, or stick her head between your legs very submissively. She seems to know her behavior is inappropriate... As of the last two days it has happened more than a dozen times, some worse than others.

At times, she loves rough housing, being petted from head to toe, and sometimes this happens between these weird nasty stints. Its to the point where my wife does not trust her; we never know if she is going to attack us when we pet her.

We love her very much and had lots of plans when we got her. She was going to be a therapy dog at my wives work, but we cant bring her anymore. We wanted to breed her, but not with this aggression, and we certainly cant trust her with kids, though she likes them just fine.

Her temperament also seems different than other dogs... when she meets someone new, she wags furiously, gets very low, and lays on her side while she gets petted. when she meets new dogs she is very unsure and seems high strung when shes around them.

So far we have tried:

Grabbing her scruff, a firm "no" until she quits, and then more attention once she gets better. sometimes she doesnt and she goes in her crate as she becomes a nasty, scary pooch.

Tried coaxing her through it with positive behavior, but this didnt seem to help

A stern "no" while separating from her, and then a series of commands (sit/down), which she listens to very well. Sometimes better, but it still got more frequent...

Now, I am simply saying no and ignoring her. She gets very needy right after and almost apologetic, but once I try and pet and praise her, she does it again!

Thanks for reading my queary, any comments will prove helpful at this point. I reallllllllly dont want to give her up, but if she attacks us six times a day for petting her, we cant trust her with children or anyone else....

PLEASE HELP!
 

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I hesitate to tell you but some of the things you have attempted are probably making it worse. I highly suggest that you seek professional help from a behaviorist or trainer who specializes in behavior issues.

I have a dog who had similar behaviors, lunging at me from under the table, biting and snarling etc. She is a real lovebug now after years of work and consultations with professionals.

I would also suggest you have a complete physical exam done, including a full thyroid panel since low thyroid can contribute to behavior issues.

I wish you the best in your search for answers...
 
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Are you in the Ft Worth area by any chance? There is a behaviorist who works with the local golden rescues that I can recommend if you are in that area. There is a veterinarian behaviorist I know of in the Dallas area as well, though I've only heard her speak and haven't used her.

I also recommend you get a thorough medical exam to rule out any medical issues causing the behavior, including thyroid issues. Ask your vet to run a full thyroid panel through Michigan State or Dr. Jean Dodds.
 

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We are not, were about 4 hours away. We found a trainer we like though, and were thinking we are going to start using her again. Thank you for your offer, and I will keep it in mind in case anything changes.

Bay beams, was their anything that your trainer did or did not do that made a big difference? It is hard for us to figure out if we are to address the issue immediately, or give her space. We have been able to avoid anymore blow-ups today by ignoring the behavior and petting her only when shes in play mode. I feel like some of the aggression is protection of her groin as that seems to be the spot that she reacts the strongest when near.

Does fixing a dog help rid the hormones and possibly some of this defensive/aggressive behavior? We have received mixed responses from a variety of sources. Also, if this behavior fades, could we breed her in good faith when she is older? Were not going to breed her if the aggression is genetic (which is a debatable topic amongst breeders and vets everywhere), however if it is a temporary phase, we want to keep that option open.

Thanks for the quick responses! All the Q's and A's on this forum have been very inciteful.
 

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Wondering while reading that her groin area seems sensitive - is there something physical causing this?
People with more experience than me - could this be something related to maybe coming into heat or is she too young? (My experience with this is nonexistent, so it's just a shot in the dark.)
 

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You are right - she is 'defensive' - bottom line she is confused. One minute you are 'punishing' (scruff shake, which can create intense fear in a dog) the next, you are giving her attention and love. You are unpredictable, she doesn't know what to expect from you and she has learned to 'defend' herself by keeping you at bay. Her submissively coming to you after being punished, is not a confirmation that she 'knows' her behavior was wrong, but an attempt to calm you down, and ease the stress levels. Her low body posture, tail wagging, and exposing her belly on meeting other people are all 'appeasement gestures' saying please don't hurt me - she doesn't trust that good things will happen. Consider the type of corrections and training you are using with her, in other instances as well, they could be too harsh for her - some dogs are 'soft' very sensitive and the 'punishment', though it may not seem 'that bad' to you - is terrifying for them.
If at all possible, seek the help of a certified behaviorist who can help you understand what is going on, and guide you through the process of building a better relationship with Rita - and work on the resource guarding.
Suggest the book - 'Mine' by Jean Donaldson, it deals specifically with resource guarding.
And don't give her items that she has in the past or likely will 'guard'.
 

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Since I am not there to see what is actually occuring I can't provide any feedback on what types of exercises to do with her to alleviate this. I can however relate things that I've noticed in training and helping a few dogs along the way that may help you.

- I would say your female is very unsure of herself and also rather unsure of your reaction when you approach her. Her reaction is a prime example of a fear reaction. In helping dogs with fear reactions toward resources I have noticed that many dogs have been "worked with" almost continually when they have anything of value. As a result of this, I've actually met a dog that gets anxious and growls at his dog bowl because people have attempted to end his resource guarding continually.

- People don't poke or prod me while I'm eating, I observe that same fundamental respect for every animal.

- Dogs read human body language better than any other animal on the planet including apes. When you approach a dog how you hold yourself or what your intentions are come out in body language. This happens subconciously and is something you cannot necessarily control, but know this... your dog understands what you mean to do or how you are feeling through your body language. If you're mad or intent on dominanting her she'll know before you get to her and react.

Dogs understand us better than chimps do - Technology & science - Science - DiscoveryNews.com - msnbc.com

Best bet, take two or three deep breaths and calm yourself down and think of what you are projecting prior to approaching her.

- You mentioned you had a trainer which is a phenomenal first step. Admitting you need help is a very difficult thing to do (especially if you are at all like me). My only caveat is if they recommend negative reinforcement... I would not use that trainer or their methods. I really think her current condition is exasperated by punishment. (And, I can say I advocate that negative reinforcement can work with some animals and a heck of a lot quicker than giving cookies).

- Things do not fix themselves overnight. Her behaviour has been a gradual increase, expect the same amount of time for a gradual decrease after you've recieved the right kind of help.

- Do a thyroid panel as was mentioned earlier. They do got surly if they are imbalanced hormonally.

- In my experiences the more submissive a dog that resource guards the more likely you are to get bitten. Your wife is very right in saying she does not trust her. Even being an experienced owner with two dogs that are very very mild mannered... I avoid specific situations. I trust them to be dogs.... nothing more.

- Please do not breed unless you have experience or someone who has experience guiding you in breeding. There are already enough Goldens' with Hip Displaysia, Elbow Displaysia and Sub-Valvular Aortic Stenosis that were brought into this world by people with the best of intentions.

Good luck in your journey you have my best wishes going with you. Try to remain patient and optimistic, as difficult as this situation may seem I think you're going to get it under control.
 

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This could be a puppy becoming a teenager and not understanding the rules of the house or it could really be some form of aggression. If it is a form of aggression it is most likely genetic and may be helped with medicine and special training. I do hope you will be able to see a vet behaviorist, first to rule out any thing like thyroid problems (that can cause aggression). A vet behaviorist will be able to do tests to find out if the aggression is genetic and if so be able to attempt medication to change different chemical levels in her body along with a training protocol.
If it is just part of being a teenager the behaviorist still would be able to train you to train her.
If it is genetic she should never be bred as it usually runs in certain lines.
 

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Thanks for all the comments, we are continuously growing as trainers!

we do not do punishment training, and we understand the importance of consistency - our biggest question is which method to be consistent with. The dogs mother had similar greeting methods and began meeting everyone in this manner. We know she is sensitive, so we have been trying to understand how to correct her best.

By avoiding the known triggers, she has done much better, but we have had several "experts" tell us that it sounds like a mix of breeding and early adoption problems (as well as two young trainers still learning!) We will be bringing her in for a workup soon, too, and get her scheduled for a spay. It seems like the best first steps to a happy pup.
 

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Thanks for all the comments, we are continuously growing as trainers!

we do not do punishment training, and we understand the importance of consistency - our biggest question is which method to be consistent with. The dogs mother had similar greeting methods and began meeting everyone in this manner. We know she is sensitive, so we have been trying to understand how to correct her best.

By avoiding the known triggers, she has done much better, but we have had several "experts" tell us that it sounds like a mix of breeding and early adoption problems (as well as two young trainers still learning!) We will be bringing her in for a workup soon, too, and get her scheduled for a spay. It seems like the best first steps to a happy pup.
Sounds like you're going to get this taken care of. Just view her as a work in progress and don't expect perfection. She will relapse and you will get frustrated... just breathe and keep working towards your goal.
 
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