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My 13-month old male golden has been biting and bruising my wife for the last 8 months. Until 3 months ago, he still took direction from me and saw me as Alpha. Then one day, I put him into the car and he went into a vicious tirade and put a "kill bite" (as opposed to the usual Golden "soft bite") on my arm. He began snapping at small neighbor children 6 months ago. Then a few weeks ago, he tried to maul my adult son, jumping frantically at his arms and face, snapping his jaws, rapidly twisting his body and leaving strings of bubbly saliva everywhere. He has taken to tearing into me like this now, and rarely follows my direction. We have been working with a behaviorist/trainer, but he's actually becoming more vicisous. His last bite at me came through my glove and broke skin. Today at the dog park, a senior golden came up to sniff, and my dog jumped him and mauled him, biting his ear. He was ferocious, deep, loud growling with jaws continually snapping, foaming mouth, etc. He also got on top of the old dog, wrapped his legs around the dog's body and continually snapped into his neck and ears with strong bites. There seems to be a switch in his head that flips, and he turns into a dangerous monster. I have never witnessed a more vicious dog in my 50+ years, and I am moving in my mind towards either putting him in a no-kill shelter, giving him back to the breeder (who says that if he cant be placed, then she'll put him down) or even something more ultimate. It's just not fair and ethical to the people who live around us or the other dogs he meets. I am really torn about this, and am wondering if anybody else has seen this type of extreme behavior. If you have anything to share, I'm all ears.
 

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A couple of questions...is he neutered? Has he been checked thoroughly by a vet? And why would you take him to the dog park, knowing he has those tendencies?
 

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Stop taking him to the dog park it isnt fair to the other dogs and since you know you can not trust him you need to keep others safe. I second or third taking him to a vet for a full check up.

I have dealt with pit bulls for a number of years and keeping that in mind I would never ever recommend a no kill shelter. If I have a dog I cannot handle I would not pass that on too some one else. If you can not deal with him and the breeder doesnt want him back ( not sure if they would take him back) I would put him down.
 

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Kate
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My 13-month old male golden has been biting and bruising my wife for the last 8 months. Until 3 months ago, he still took direction from me and saw me as Alpha.
About here, I'm somewhat thinking that this sounds like you had a really mouthy adolescent golden. The mention of "alpha" concerns me, because sometimes people who use that term may be using training macho styles which can backfire on them.

Then one day, I put him into the car and he went into a vicious tirade and put a "kill bite" (as opposed to the usual Golden "soft bite") on my arm. He began snapping at small neighbor children 6 months ago. Then a few weeks ago, he tried to maul my adult son, jumping frantically at his arms and face, snapping his jaws, rapidly twisting his body and leaving strings of bubbly saliva everywhere. He has taken to tearing into me like this now, and rarely follows my direction.
How much freedom do you give him? Is he outside all the time - the only dog I know of who went nuts like this was left outside where he was exposed to a lot of "threats" from neighborhood kids teasing him and overall he became VERY territorial. The owners still kept him outside despite knowing the kids were teasing him, and he wound up ripping a kid's face off.

How many people are training him. Have you backed up to using "prevention" methods? Never take things from his mouth. Dog is on leash around those who cause him to snap. You and other family members sort out what makes him snap or what his warning signs are.

We have been working with a behaviorist/trainer, but he's actually becoming more vicisous. His last bite at me came through my glove and broke skin.
What are the methods that this behaviorist is recommending? Have you approached this medically? There are meds that could help calm him down. Is this behaviorist working with you and your family to ensure (again) that this dog is not provoked or put in the position where he feels defensive.

If he's getting worse, you need to evaluate the methods you are using - particularly if you are still putting him in the position where he feels defensive or fearful.

Today at the dog park, a senior golden came up to sniff, and my dog jumped him and mauled him, biting his ear. He was ferocious, deep, loud growling with jaws continually snapping, foaming mouth, etc. He also got on top of the old dog, wrapped his legs around the dog's body and continually snapped into his neck and ears with strong bites.
Dog parks are an ABSOLUTE NO for aggressive dogs. And it does sound like you have an aggressive golden. It's just like taking your dog offleash anywhere around other people and dogs. Or leaving your dog outside in the backyard where the kids can antagonize him. These things aren't helpful when you are working with a dog who has apparent triggers.
 

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New Mommy
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There is a condition called "Sudden Rage" I would look into. I am so sorry you are in this situation. I agree with the others , he needs to be checked out by his vet. If no medical condition can be found, I think he needs to be put down. Let the breeder do it if is too hard for you. This is NOT normal Golden behavior. Again, I am so sorry.
 

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Beware of Nestle Purina
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How long have you been working with the trainer/ behaviorist? If he is getting worse I would find a new one. Maybe someone here can give you a recommendation. How did you find this trainer? Ad? Word of mouth? Recommendations? What is this person's actual edu and background? Aggressive dogs are totally different from frustrated house pets.

I hope you find the help you both need.
 

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Dr. Rainheart
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Please please do not take your dog to a dog park; he is aggressive and that is a dangerous situation for everyone. I don't have any advice, except find a licensed veterinary behaviorist if you haven't yet.
 

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Beware of Nestle Purina
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Aggression breeds aggression. An aggressive or uncontrollable dog should NEVER go to a dog park.
 
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I'm surprised you guys are recommending putting him down.
The fact that he is doing this to his wife more often than to him, tells me its just a puppy who knows which family member can be overpowered. Gracie used to snap her teeth at me and one time while she was doing it I just lifted her off the ground and locked her in a room and ignored her for an hour. That was the last time she snapped her teeth at anyone.

I'm a firm believer that people are the cause of all doggy issues. What does your dog do in an average week? How many runs? how often do you play with him? how much time does he spend alone? how often is he around other dogs or children? Is every family member committed to enforcing proper behavior and able to react when puppy crosses lines? What forms of punishment do you use? Does he get hit on the nose?
 

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Kate
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Gracie used to snap her teeth at me and one time while she was doing it I just lifted her off the ground and locked her in a room and ignored her for an hour. That was the last time she snapped her teeth at anyone.
And if she were truly aggressive - particularly fear aggressive - I imagine you would have gotten nailed when you grabbed her.

Macho methods work with some dogs. Not for all dogs - in some cases, they can make a fearful or reactive dog worse.
 

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And if she were truly aggressive - particularly fear aggressive - I imagine you would have gotten nailed when you grabbed her.

Macho methods work with some dogs. Not for all dogs - in some cases, they can make a fearful or reactive dog worse.
I did get nailed. I just over powered her. it was a real fight, I won and she got the message. After I let her out I played with her for an hour and gave her lots of love :)
 

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Kate
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I did get nailed. I just over powered her. it was a real fight, I won and she got the message. After I let her out I played with her for an hour and gave her lots of love :)
I simply do not think you should be recommending methods like this in the case of a dog who may actually be aggressive or past the point where these methods might help at all.

If a dog actually nailed you, you would have needed stitches.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I appreciate all the recent posts. Some background to answer your questions. First, what I call a dog park is actually a nature preserve of about 100 acres. Dogs are permitted off leash as long as they are behaved. I took him there when no other cars were inn the parking lot; walked him on leash for 1/3 mile, so he wouldn't dash back to the parking lot and onto the road (which he has done before). Then took him to a remote corn field and let him run free to release some energy. We then went into the woods, where I continued to see nobody. He was resting in a small creek when some folks came down the path with the elder dog. Basically, when I see people coming, I leash him up. Next, we have talked to our vet several times, and she basically says to get a good trainer -- not much else. She doesn't say this is odd. Finally, our trainer/behaviorist is a friend, licensed, and her husband is a vet. Regarding how we raise him, there is never fear nor neglect. We lost a wonderful Golden to cancer in Jan 2011, and immediately contacted his breeder's daughter (breeder since retired and daughter kept the business) and picked him from a litter 2 months later. He has had freedom, love, care, forgiveness, and boundaries; never any harsh treatment by anybody, never left outside all day, etc. We raised him just like our first Golden, but with more enforcement of boundaries since he is strong-willed. He is somewhat of a lone wolf but has decent charm and character. But when he gets vicious, it's as if he flips into another completely different personality. His bark, growl and gestures are completely different.
 

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Kristy
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Hound Snout,
Please, please have the full vet work up done on your dog and ask for a referral to a certified veterinary behaviorst so that you can get one more opinion on this situation since it sounds like the current trainer isn't giving you the support/options you need (or I'm thinking you wouldn't be posting here).

1) No more dog parks
2) No more exposure to any people outside your family, you are correct that you have a moral obligation not to expose anyone to a dog that has the potential to be dangerous.
3) Try to avoid any encounters with the dog that put you in a position of feeling like you are the winner/loser. That is not what this is about. Your instincts are correct and it sounds like you have a very serious problem. She should have a short leash attached to her collar to drag so that if you have to remover her or move her you are not grabbing her collar or her body to do this.
4) Please do not listen to anyone who advises you to try to dominate this dog, she does sound to have a serious problem and those training techniques will absolutely not work for her.
5) Please do not re-home this dog to any shelter or rescue or private person other than the breeder. From what you have told us, she needs professional help and anything less is going to lead to her biting someone innocent.
6) Finally, please understand that everyone here wants the dog to be safe and for you and your family to be safe. Everyone is asking questions trying to get a better understanding of your situation in hopes of helping. We get posts here all the time from people who don't seem to understand normal golden retriever adolescent behavior and how much exercise and training are needed to keep make the dog a good companion. It sounds like your experience is beyond this, I hope you will believe that we are not blaming you at this point but are trying to help you with moving forward on the problem. I think your breeder is going to be your best bet on getting help if the dog is truly unsafe.
 

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New Mommy
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Sudden rage

The dog will suddenly act aggressively to anyone nearby, but minutes later will be calm and normal. It does not seem to remember or realise what has taken place and may act immediately friendly to the person(s) that it previously attacked. Attacks such as these have not stopped with training because it is a problem that the dog seemingly cannot consciously control.[1] The attack will happen without apparent cause.[2]
Shortly prior to an attack, their eyes can glaze over and go hard, followed by the dog snapping into alert mode before finally attacking. It appears to an outsider like an exaggerated form of aggression. Often a specific dog can have a certain trigger, such as the unexpected approach of people whilst it is sleeping.
 
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Houndsnout, thanks for the background. It helps. This is NOT normal golden behavior, and a 13 month old male is a big, strong dog. Since you have already consulted the vet and worked with a trainer, I think you need to take the dog back to the breeder and let him/her use their resources to try to "fix" what's wrong, or perhaps place the dog in a police/drug dog type situation.
There are some dogs that just have a screw loose. Sounds like you have one of them.
 

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Kristy
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we have talked to our vet several times, and she basically says to get a good trainer -- not much else. She doesn't say this is odd. Finally, our trainer/behaviorist is a friend, licensed, and her husband is a vet.

We raised him just like our first Golden, but with more enforcement of boundaries since he is strong-willed. He is somewhat of a lone wolf but has decent charm and character. But when he gets vicious, it's as if he flips into another completely different personality. His bark, growl and gestures are completely different.

If I told my vet that my golden was snapping at children and bit me so hard it broke through a glove, and she didn't offer to do a full blood panel and exam, I would find a new vet, get a second opinion. I really would.

I have some experience with this issue and the behaviorist I used out of NC State Univ. told me that he is seeing more and more 'bratty puppy" behavior that instead of resolving itself actually goes to full blown 'owner directed agression.' I urge you again to get a second opinion from a certified veterinary behaviorist so that if you do have to return the dog to the breeder you will have a full write up report to give her. And have the blood panel run. What you are describing is not normal behavior.

 
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