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Dangerous and capable. Severe aggression help.

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Atlas

I'm a hot mess.
 
 
Barked: Thu Nov 8, '12 2:37am PST 
This is very difficult to write. Please bear with me.

My dog is 3 years old, American Bulldog. I love him. Our family loves him.

Previous training did not help when there were early warning signs of aggressive behavior. We are out of money, struggling very much, and it is difficult to find any other training options nearby that accept dangerous dogs. I need advice on dealing with this personally, and advice on how to search for professionals in the area for the future, in the hopes that we can afford professional help again during better times.

He has attacked me as well as my other family members. I believe he may permanently disfigure or kill someone.

Only so many characters fit in one post; please, if anyone has experience with this, reply, and I will elaborate. I have been reading about aggression until it feels my eyes bleed. What I have read, and previous trainer agreed, suggests this is not fear aggression.
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Kali earned- her wings- 10/21/14

She's game for- anything that's- fun.
 
 
Barked: Thu Nov 8, '12 4:27am PST 
How long have you had him? Did you get him as a pup or was he rescued?
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Rocky *CGC*- With the- angels.

Gone but never,- ever forgotten- xxx
 
 
Barked: Thu Nov 8, '12 5:20am PST 
I'm sure we would all love to help as much as we can, but we need a little more information...

Is he dog aggressive, human aggressive or both?

What triggers his aggression? Does he get too excited? Is he resource guarding? Territorial?...

If he has attacked you before? Was he redirecting his aggression or was it solely directed or started with you?

How does he act when he's not being aggressive?

I know this can be so stressful for everyone involved, but hang in there, there is almost always a way... I'm a firm believer that aggression is not the problem, it's the outcome of a problem.

hughughug
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Kali earned- her wings- 10/21/14

She's game for- anything that's- fun.
 
 
Barked: Thu Nov 8, '12 11:19am PST 
Also, when he attacked you, what was he doing? And what were you doing?
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Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
 
 
Barked: Thu Nov 8, '12 11:36am PST 
I am very experienced with this breed, via rescue. What is your location? There is plenty of advice I can give you, but let's start with that and where/how/what age you got him.
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Lucille

I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
 
 
Barked: Thu Nov 8, '12 12:28pm PST 
There are many knowledgeable posters here on dogster who can give you excellent advice. If this is as serious a situation as it sounds, you may really need a professional behaviorist to evaluate your dog in person. I also want to make sure this link is out there for anyone reading this thread who might be in a similar situation:

http://www.animalbehavior.org/ABSAppliedBehavior/caab- directory

It's a directory for certified applied animal behaviorists, also veterinary behaviorists who are DVM with a concentration in behavior. Anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves a dog trainer, there's no regulation other than some professional organizations. Some trainers will happily refer you when they're out of their depth, some may not. It might be time to get the dog evaluated at another level. Don't let cost deter you without asking, some behaviorsts do consults for severe cases on a sliding scale to keep dogs alive and people safe. Best of luck to you.
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Atlas

I'm a hot mess.
 
 
Barked: Fri Nov 9, '12 1:02am PST 
Thank you all. He is aggressive towards dogs and humans, including members of my household, me included. We live in Bucks county, Pennsylvania. He is three years old and we have had him as a puppy. We socialized him as much as possible when he was younger, took him to group training in two different areas, and it seemed for a short time he might be making progress.

He used to be food aggressive when we would try to feed him in the morning. He worked hard with him on that and now he waits like an angel. However, as he grew his reactive responses to dogs and people on walks grew worse. We started going to a private trainer, which did not help.

Only recently, in the past few months, did it suddenly take a turn for the worse. Atlas, the dog in question, went under the table to eat some cat throw up. When I came near to chase him away, he latched onto my arm and bit me repeatedly. I was deeply bruised, but only a little bloody, no stitches needed. But when I tried to get away he chased me, jumped and lunged. He then chased my mother, and my brother, who tried to intervene. Hackles raised, circling the table.

He has been aggressive without food present as well, but never anything like that- a brief snap if someone tries to tell him to get up, things that are unacceptable but workable.

It happened again later. There was some food under a chair that my mom didn't see. This time, she didn't do anything but walk by and Atlas started growling. I ran into the room, saw him lunge for her, but she pulled out a chair to have something between him and herself. I lept in front of her and sternly commanded him to sit. He did. I told him just as firmly to lay down, and he did. I started to relax. I told my family to stay still and not take his focus away from me. We waited, and then finally I moved away and tried to call him to me. But instead, as soon as he stood he "charged" at my younger brother across the room who was no where near, hackles up, growling, and tried to bite his hand but my younger brother grabbed his head and sidled behind a chair. Only then, When Atlas backed off and went to eat what was under the chair, did we even realize something was there to cause the problem.

He has shown signs of what I have seen called both 'dominance aggression' and 'social aggression', but it seems that some trainers also argue that this kind of aggression does not exist. He as always mouthed, despite our best efforts to train him out of it, at our hands and coats. I originally though it was just him having trouble getting over a puppy habit, until I read that it was a predecessor of this kind of aggression.

I have had other American Bulldogs and also other breeds in the past, and I have noticed these distinct differences: 1) Atlas never responds when he is scolded or reprimanded. There is no head hanging, no 'sheepish' expression, no sign that he acknowledges or dislikes our displeasure. 2) He has never been jealous of attention given to the other animals in the house. I don't know if those help at all, they are just characteristics all our other dogs had that he noticeably doesn't.

At the moment, he has bitten 5 members of the family on different occasions. When he gets violent, I try to turn my side or back to him, to show that I am not in a position to attack, and I tell him calmly to sit. Thus far this has worked with me only receiving a few bites and bruises, but clearly it cannot continue. Every day feels like a roll of the dice. He is not a rescue. He has never been abused.
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Atlas

I'm a hot mess.
 
 
Barked: Fri Nov 9, '12 1:18am PST 
When he is not being aggressive he is incredibly sociable. He never gets a long with dogs, and it takes him time and a calm introduction to meet new people. But then he is all wiggles and excitement. He constantly has to be with someone. He is very prone to lick and be affectionate, but when he gets too excited he will jump and mouth, but stops and calms down immediately if we ask him to sit. He barks at anything moving outside of the house, through windows, in the backyard through the fence, or on walks. We try to 'claim' the windows and the fence when he does this as we were recommended by our trainer in the past. He is not at all aggressive with cats, funnily enough. Even strange cats at the vets. On walks, he pulls but after a while will calm so long as we keep giving him short tugs and only move at our own pace. He goes crazy when there is any human or dog approaching, but is easily distracted with treats- we can get him to lie down and belly up until they have passed. When people come over and I issue him commands, they always compliment on how well trained he is, with no idea about his attacks. When he slips into that other state of mind, he is a different animal entirely.

I am particularly worried about this escalating during other times, such as during bathing or when we have to wipe his face (his jowls hold a substantial amount of water every time he gets a drink), because what I have read has stated that these are other times this variety of aggression soon escalates to. I am also worried about the multiple biting and charging, as I described earlier, escalating into sinking his teeth in and shaking, which has not occurred yet.

His triggers seem to be: Food, getting him to move when he is laying down, new people/dogs, toys.

It is especially hard to tell vets and family members that visit not to make eye contact, as this also elicits a violent response.
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Nare

Woo-woo- whineybutt
 
 
Barked: Fri Nov 9, '12 1:48am PST 
How do you scold or correct him when he is bad?

after an episode of his aggression what do you do?
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Atlas

I'm a hot mess.
 
 
Barked: Fri Nov 9, '12 2:09am PST 
We usually scold him with a short, brief sound to get his attention- the word no, or bad, usually accompanied by a snap of the fingers. I have read that some advice a tiny pinch on the bridge of the nose or on the ear when he gets mouthy, which I have tried but would never do when he is being dangerously aggressive, for obvious reasons. Typically after we get Atlas to sit, or once he has finished eating whatever has caused his episode, and he calms down, we will punish him in the same fashion- strict voice commands, authorative body language, and get him to sit, lay down, and roll over to expose his belly. Other than that, I do not know what to do, these methods have always worked with my previous dogs, but obviously, this one is not like my previous dogs. I am very open and hopeful for other suggestions of ways to reprimand him.

As per one website's suggestions, I tried a spray bottle method- a light spritz to his side. However, if one of his triggers is near by, this also results in lunging and attacking. If it he is simply barking out a window, he gets confused and then playful.
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