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Categories: Dog Aggression , Kids and Dog Aggression

Q. Our one year old Golden Retriever has a tendency to get very aggressive. I've been bitten a number of times as have 2 of my children. Help!
Hello,

We have a male Golden Retriever who is turning one year old next week.  He was neutered at 7 months of age and we have had him since he was 8 weeks old.

With the help of your videos on Establishing a Pack Structure and Dealing with Dominant dogs we have for the most part an obedient dog who stays and comes on command. Walks well with us and responds to verbal correction when he wants to wander toward other dogs or to sniff around.

Unfortunately he has tendency to get very aggressive at times. We have three young children in the home and are concerned we will never be able to relax with him around in fear that he may snap.

Here are some scenarios we see too often.

1.  He is laid down relaxing next to me on leash while I am seated watching TV.  One of our kids walks by to go sit on the couch and he growls aggressively towards them.  Like he is annoyed that they are around when he is resting

What correction should I give? Currently I give a stern "No" which often riles him up more. Should I give a hard correction or pull him up onto his hind legs? We use a prong collar now which we find has helped a lot with walking.

2.  He senses that a treat may be forthcoming as he sees us milling around in the kitchen or putting away dishes from the table.  He gets fixated on that and if we verbally try to get his attention he may growl and if I try to pull him away he gets aggressive and has even lunged to bite me.

3.  He is sniffing around while on lead in the kitchen trying to scoop up crumbs and rice dropped by the kids at the table. If you try to get him to stope he has bitten me (this was prior to us having him on lead all the time).

I have been bitten in these scenarios a number of times. Two of my children have been bitten when they wandered past as he lounged around. I have given stern corrections with the prong collar in these last two situations and immediately crated him but his behavior has not changed.

We are currently having him in his crate in the basement all day except for walks and potty breaks. He eats in his crate and we do not feed him at the table or give him toys in his crate.

Help!!!!

A. This sounds like pretty extreme behavior for a one year old golden.

I'd go with a dominant dog collar and a properly sized muzzle. We also have directions on how to measure the dog for a muzzle.

The prong collar can escalate aggressive behavior, so I would not use that when he needs a correction in and around the house. Use the dominant dog collar and have a muzzle on him so he can't hurt anyone.

I wouldn't be letting him lounge around, he would be under strict obedience control anytime he was out of his crate and I would NOT allow your kids within his range.

I'd also recommend finding some professional help locally, if he's behaving like this at one year of age by the time he's mature he’s going to be extremely dangerous.

Here is a section on preventing dog bites in kids.

Good luck, I hope this helps.
Cindy Rhodes

  Response:

Thank you very much for the reply and suggestions.

Do you think that this is behavior that can change through the training or is this something we will have to use avoidance scenarios and muzzle for his whole life?

  Follow-Up Response:

I can’t answer with any certainty, there are just too many variables to accurately predict.

I know that just about every dog can improve but whether you can completely extinguish the unwanted behavior can’t be known for sure. My advice would be to take one day at a time and not be focused too far ahead right now because that will get in the way of your progress.

Sorry I’m not more help.

Cindy Rhodes
  
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