• Michael D’Abruzzo

    September 13, 2010 at 8:13 am

    From the bit of history I’m reading – the issues seem to be resource guarding, dominance aggression, fear aggression, and lower than average bite inhibition.

    Here is some troubleshooting for you:

    level 2 – health:
    – Check to make sure you are feeding a food with a good protein source (not corn,wheat,soy,etc..) this can be connected with poor impulse control. fish oil is also thought to help with impulse control.
    – Without a doubt you should make an appointment to neuter. Testerosterone does add to the problem (anything dominance related) and most definitely part of the initial source, and although will not cure any issues to neuter now will take the edge off after a couple months. The fact that you haven’t done anything horribly wrong with his upbringing and he is showing lower than average bite inhibition (which has a genetic connection) would make poor judgement for breeding and he already received the physical developmental benefits of staying intact. He will keep that. So there are only benefits to neutering.
    level 3 – attitude:
    – Difficult to tell from your history, but rough handling or intimidation tatics can make him more defensive (I’m going to get him before he gets me). You shouldn’t even have to raise your voice with him or startle him verbally with the right plan.
    level 5 – pack structure:
    – If you weren’t following info similar to the info in this section it could have sent mixed messages during the time period preceding the incidents. I would particularly go over the info in the aggression rehab section “Establishing the relationship”
    level 9 – obedience:
    – would be sure to use an obedience method with minimal force, warnings, etc.. I would train him to a formal phase 3 off-leash “place” (the down at the end isn’t necessary).
    – I would train him to wear a muzzle first with treat hole in the front.
    – Use the muzzle while practicing obedience fairly – if we make a misjudgement and he growls or goes to bite we can handle the situation calmly without looking intimidated and without using force back (best by redirecting his attention to something he likes – sometimes I just say “free” and act happy to diffuse). If you do all the layers before this and you are training in a balanced way with both reward and gentle dicsipline it is rare you will see any aggression, but put saftey messures in place.
    – For now feed in the kennel, but after you have trained him to a realiable place, you should put the food on the place and send him to it. After he finishes eating – he has to wait for his “free” to be released. This bit of reverse pscychology works good for that type of thing. You are forcing him to eat and he has to wait for your que to leave the bowl instead of him thinking you want to challenge him for the bowl. when you “free” him give him a treat and ignore his empty bowl until he is not around for now.
    layer 10 – desensitizing:
    – sounds like some fear stuff with you touching injured areas. He did show normal warning with the paw. This isn’t necesarily dominace based (when you are dealing with an injury or fear)and can be survival instinct kicking in. The wrong thing to do would be to force yourself upon him and ignore the growls. Respecting a growl when it comes to a fear has nothing to do with how he will perceive your pack status (except for in a more trusting way). If you don’t respect the growl, he can feel more insecure about your presence and go directly to the bite if you are near him when he feels threatened (his bites all sound defensive – the first seemed to be to avoid a correction and the second seemed to be a “I’m going to get you before you get me” thing. It may have initially started off as resource guarding, but the loud noise and bump I think he perceived as a threat toward him and not his food). Also, don’t think the posting him is a good idea unless you truly believe he is enjoying it at this point (then it is fine). If there is any doubt that he wants to be touched be sure to add something positive such as treats when you do this if the touching in itself doesn’t seem rewarding.
    In this level you most likely will need to only do counterconditioning, but only if that isn’t working by itself we may want to consider an extinction technique which is along the lines of ignoring the aggression (in a safe way) and calmly showing him a better behavior (such as a calming signal instead of a growl when he is nervous). but that is a much more difficult technique – that we can discuss when you get there. This is a big project that takes patience. But, you will be surprised how much of this stuff works it way out if you start out on the bottom of the “triangle” and patiently work yourself up with a new relationship and plan.

    Highly recommend getting started with a going away party for his testicles.

    Hope this isn’t too confusing – please respond back with thoughts and questions. no plan is set in stone, but this is a sample plan that I would go with at first. May take a couple months for you to build up to a desensitizing phase.