Our family has an incredibly difficult dog. He is a two year old aggressive Australian Shepherd x Lab named Bones, that we have had since he was about 6-7 weeks old. We began private puppy lessons and then group lessons when he was a little older. He learned quickly. For the next year he was a great dog.
We would take him to the dog park and for long walks around our area and everyone loved him. He allowed everyone to pet him and we had no problems. After about six months he was becoming toy aggressive. Then he stopped allowing the neighborhood kids to play with him and he began barking at strangers. Last week he got out of the house and chased someone who was riding their bike. He ended up tearing the pads off of both his feet while attempting to eat the bike rider.
He is now incredibly aggressive towards anyone that is not in our immediate family. He not allow anyone in our house and attacks anyone that walks by him. It is becoming nearly impossible for anyone in our family to walk him. We are afraid that we will be forced to put him down.
Here’s what you can’t do with dogs as territorial as this. You can NEVER leave them in a yard unsupervised nor can they EVER be left alone for any amount of time where they can see vehicle or pedestrian traffic through a window or a door. For some reason retrieving breeds crossed with herding breeds can produce overly territorial dogs that make Charlie Sheen’s crazy train look like Thomas the Train. (If you don’t have little kids, google it.) Here’s what you HAVE to do with these dogs. Spend a lot of time with them in the yard and where they can see vehicle and pedestrian traffic through a window or a door and correct bad behaviour and reward good behaviour. They have to be taught and reminded until the day they die that, “This is your house and they just get to live there.”
There are studies used to support the use of all positive dog training that claim correcting a dog for aggression will make the aggression worse. However the only thing that study proved is that bad science is alive and well and can be a tad cruel. It can be made to be true by structuring the study so a poor dog is essentially dumped into a charged situation and while its attention is fixed on the target of its aggression a “correction” is “applied.” No real trainer works with aggressive dogs that way. They would first look into the dog’s history, look at exercise and mental stimulation available to the dog etc. They would address the window/yard issues and show how to develop a proper working relationship foundation. After about 30 days of the latter they would in short succession likely exercise the dog to the point of happy exhaustion, do a quick review of the foundation exercises learned and then immediately introduce an incremental exposure to the red zone stimulants. They would both correct bad behaviour and reward good behaviour to help the dog understand more clearly where it was going wrong without any risk of increasing aggression and unless the dog has a screw loose every chance of getting it under control if not extinguishing it entirely.