Territorial Aggression in Basenji/Blue Heeler Mix

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Barked: Sun Jan 29, '12 7:55am PST 
Two days ago we rescued a one year old blue heeler mix from a shelter. He bonded quickly to my husband and follows him around "herding" him everywhere he goes. He has shown aggression towards me on three occasions: once when I came into the living room where he was playing with my husband, once when I came in the front door upon returning from running errands, and the last time, when I opened the office door where he was sitting near my husband. He growls and lunges at me. At other times, he allows me to rub him, and seems very relaxed around me.

He has also shown aggression towards a male neighbor who came to our door, and to a 6 year old girl who was bouncing a ball outside while he was being walked. Today while my husband was walking him, he growled at a 4 year old boy who was calmly standing about ten feet away from him.

I understand the protective nature of the blue heeler, so this territorial/protective aggression concerns me. The shelter that had him, found him abandoned, skinny with open wounds, possibly from a dog fight. He growls and bares his teeth at other dogs, so he may have caused the attack, or may be distrustful of other dogs because of the attack. Since we don't know what he was like as a puppy, we won't know why he has dog aggression. It may also be a territorial response.

We're not sure that we can keep this dog, since we will spend several months of the year at a lake house that we share with our children and their families (including a 3 year old granddaughter).

My question is can territorial/protective aggression be trained out of adult blue heelers, if they were not socialized properly as puppies, or will their genetic propensity for protection be difficult to overcome? He is a great dog in every other way, and he really wants to please, but at this stage he is very unpredictable. We have been treating him as though we are the alpha dog, and it is absolutely not aggression due to us allowing him to be alpha.

Thanks for any advice you can offer.

Edited by author Sun Jan 29, '12 11:05am PST