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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am a new member to this forum and I own two male dogs: Max, an 18-month-old shelter rescue that we've had since he was a puppy; and Kris, a 7-year-old, male Goldie, who we've had since he was 11 months old.

Kris came into our lives via a friend of a friend, who had purchased him at a pet store as a puppy. He was GIVEN to us; the previous owner was going through a breakup with his girlfriend and they were just looking for a good hom for him. We had lost a Goldie (a sweet, sweet rescue named Duchess) to cancer a few months before :-( and were looking to bring another Goldie into the family.

Kris was intact, and the first thing he did was lift his leg on our Christmas tree. We took him for a weekend (as a trial...we have four cats at this time) and we fell in love with him in 5 minutes. He had found a home.

We had Kris neutered within the first few months, as he was marking everywhere (outside) and showed some MILD aggressive tendencies. We also got him into some one-on-one AND group training. He did very well and socialized with other dogs (after the first few months) beautifully. We could take him anywhere, even off leash (where legal): dog parks, dog beaches, doggie 'meet ups' - he was great! On or off a leash, he was no problem at all.

We game him as much exercise as our busy lives allowed. Fortunately, we have a big pool in the backyard and live in Southern California...and Kris LOVES to chase a ball and 'dock jump' into the pool. Everybody loves him; he gets a ton of attention and strokes. He has always been great with people, young and old, big and small.

Around the age of 4 - and I take full responsibility for this - we got out of the habit of regularly socializing him with other dogs. As a result, I began to notice some mild-to-medium signs of leash agression (lunging, snarling, growling, etc). So back into group classes he went (I had a lifetime of free group lessons included as part of the contract with my original trainer). These lessons proved ineffective; not that there were any incidents in class (there weren't), but the trainer simply kept Kris separated from the rest of the group, so he wasn't really addressing the problem, in my opinion (i.e., he was agressive around other dogs, so keeping him isolated/separated didn't serve any useful purpose or help fix the problem).

We found another trainer and - gasp! - resorted to using a shock collar on Kris. That seemed to work - MOST of the time. However, there have been a couple of blood-letting incidents in the past year involving both unleashed AND leashed dogs that have me very upset and worried.

Kris is very unpredictable around other, unfamilar dogs. He is great with Max (our 18-month-old); he is great with my sister-in-law's two large mixed breeds; he is great with the two little bichons that we house sit for our neighbors (at OUR house); he is great with our friend's nasty Corgi; he is great with the six cats we have had during Kris' life with us.

However, on a walk, if we encounter other dogs...he is Mr. Hyde. His agression is not mere bluff; as I said, he has drawn blood on two occasions. The most recent occurred just yesterday, while he was wearing his shock collar, being 'zapped' on full intensity, against a sweet, old, leashed female that was being walked in front of our house (we took our eyes off him for a second, while putting up Christmas lights; he attacked the poor dog without warning).

Here is my intrepretation of his behavior:

1) It is not limited to Kris being on-leash

2) Gender, fixed or not, big or small, agressive or not...doesn't matter. It doesn't ALWAYS happen, but it happes more often than not.

3) It is not specific and/or limitied to Kris' "territory". He has acted agressively outside our front door...and out of state.

4) He does not appear to be acting protectively toward me, my wife, or my kids (or Max, for that matter). Many of the other dogs have been totally disinterested, don't even bother to make eye contact, are leashed, minding their own business, etc.

5) There is often little warning. He just 'snaps'.

6) Once I intervene (and that means getting a hold of him), he calms down immediately. He is not tense, he doesn't struggle to get loose, he doesn't continue to growl or bark. He doesn't appear to be stressed at all. It stops as quickly as it starts.

Whew! That's a long post. I am open to any feedback you might be able to offer.

Thanks...
 

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My boy has been dog aggressive too and we have tried this method of training with great results:
BAT « Ahimsa Dog Blog

You mentioned that there are rarely any signs before he snaps. I thought the same thing about my dog but the trainer was able to help me see that there are.
 
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First of all, using a shock collar to correct aggression is only making it worse - he thinks the other dog is causing the shock, hence "must follow through with the attack."

Second, don't leave him loose where he can go after another dog, like your front yard, and if you are walking him on leash move away from approaching dogs. At least until you can get a solid plan in place to deal with the problem.

You need to consult with a behaviorist. Please contact the vet college in your state and ask about a certified animal behaviorist.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
First of all, using a shock collar to correct aggression is only making it worse - he thinks the other dog is causing the shock, hence "must follow through with the attack."

Second, don't leave him loose where he can go after another dog, like your front yard, and if you are walking him on leash move away from approaching dogs. At least until you can get a solid plan in place to deal with the problem.

You need to consult with a behaviorist. Please contact the vet college in your state and ask about a certified animal behaviorist.
Yes, I offer no excuses except stupidity. I have NEVER been in favor of the collar; but I was at wit's end. My wife and I just discussed that very thing after the most recent attack; i.e., perhaps he thought the d**n collar was pain being inflicted by the other dog.

Ditto to your second suggestion. You can bet your LIFE that will never happen again. And I try, always, to move away from other dogs while walking. That is not always possible, as I am sure you must know. I am extremely vigilant, but, try as I might, I have walked around blind corners at night smack dab into another dog on a leash. It happens. I can't avoid all situations; that is not realistic.

I also am hoping (against hope?) that my beautiful buddy is not going to have to be kept 'quarantined' for the rest of his life. :-( The easy way out is avoidance (and I realize that is not what you are suggesting). I want a richer life for him/me.

Thanks for your suggestions, however. I have already contacted a couple of trainers/behaviroists that have come recommended.

P.S. I have already spent over $2000.00, and countless hours, on training for Kris (and Max). They get a 75-90 minute walk every day (or equivilent ball-chasing). My wife (and daughters) and I have fostered, and placed, 5 puppies in the past two years. We regularly watch other people's dogs (we just let them stay at our house). I can't tell you how many loose dogs I have picked up, brought home and housed for days in my own home (until the owner was located). As I said, we own four cats; we also own two guinea pigs. I am disappointed in myself and concerned about my buddy.
 

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I do understand you can't anticipate everything. I really think you need to locate a certified veterinarian behaviorist, not just a dog trainer.
 
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