Posted by loulou
Oct 13, 2011
We have a 11 month old mastiff, Jethro who has been scocialized extremely well and loved everyone he met. He has had a long history of stomach problems, giardia and possible allergies as well as ear infections. Any way we went to a bbq a couple of months ago a woman that was there snuck up behind him and covered his eyes, which freaked him out and so he growled at her.This is something he has never done so we were quite shocked. We left early so that he would hopefully forget about it and be his old self again.Two days later we were walking and came across our neighbour and Jethro was himself all wiggles and happy to see him but then his wife came out from around the corner and he growled at her.This is not the same girl from the bbq, but she had similar dark hair.he began growling at any female with dark hair and now it's any female.we neuterd him but he still growls.I'm at a loss on what to do here.He now wears a muzzle.Icould really use some advice to get my boy back to his happy friendly self
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Oct 13, 2011
Hi loulou,

I am sorry to hear that one incident caused his reaction to similar kinds of situations.

All I can suggest is to actively disensitize him with female with dark hair. Ask your dog savvy friends or sales associates at pet stores to approach him up to a few feet from him and then have him get closer to those people while they are not looking at him. Have the people extend their hand with a treat in it. If you don't feel comfortable doing that, you can give him a treat as you encourage him to come closer to them.

All he did was growling and barking, correct? If he didn't bite or even snap, I would not put a muzzle on him but I understand you are afraid that he would bite. If you feel nerveous, he would sense that and can be more protective.

Anyway, don't try to avoid those types of people, instead try to encourage him to get familiar with them on a daily basis. Good luck
Posted by loulou
Oct 13, 2011
thank you for getting back to me.He did actually bite someone but did not break the skin and fortunately she worked for a vet and was very understanding and actually blamed herself because she did approach him from behind. Idon't feel comfortable without the muzzle and I know he can tell when I'm not.He just had dew claw removed that was missed when he was a puppy and was bothering him and I just had a hernia operation so we have some healing to do before we can get out much .I really like the idea of using people from the pet store to help with this and I'm excited to try it .I'll keep you Posted when wehave healed
thanks again
Posted by KOPCaroline
Oct 14, 2011
Hey loulou,

How upsetting! Its sad when one isolated incident can tip a dog into such behaviour, but I just wanted to emphasize that MHN's advice is great stuff! A key to training out of this sort of behaviour is desensitization - exposing him to what sets him off (dark haired women) as much as possible, and making sure that the interactions are positive. Its also important that you end the interactions before he gets worked up at all - so they always end on a good note! It may be that at first you can only have him around dark haired women for a few seconds, but you can do it multiple times a day. I'm sure you'll be able to sort out and read Jethro better in person, and since you know him so well

The other part of training that may help is distraction - once he's a bit more comfortable around dark hair women, try getting his attention focused on you instead of them directly. Obviously we don't want him to get snuck up on again, but if you can get him to focus on listening to you or looking at you instead of focusing on any women in the area - then he shouldn't get so worked up over them. You want to aim to get him to ignore their being around until they're far enough away that he wont get upset.

I hope the two of you recover well and quickly from your surgeries! Not a fun time from the sound of it - best wishes! Please let us know how Jethro gets on