SEVERE Stranger Aggression

Posted by Matt-amp-Liz
Sep 17, 2008
I took a quick look through the forums, and have been reading the book, but I haven't found a case that is quite like mine.

My wife and I live in the Bahamas and we volunteer at the local Humane Society. We've adopted two dogs from there - one as a puppy in January and another dog 2-3 years old last month.

The issues are with the puppy, who is now 11 months old and weighs 60 pounds. He's what they call a "Potcake" in the Bahamas, which is essentially calling him a mix breed. Usually you can't tell too much of what the mix is, but in this case he obviously has quite a bit of German Shepherd in him. He's more robust than a shepherd and stockier, but people will be mistaking him for a shepherd puppy for the rest of his life.

Here's the problem - from the VERY FIRST time we brought him out in public - when he was 3 or 4 months old - he goes ABSOLUTELY BALLISTIC at strangers. I'm not talking snapping or growling, I'm talking about lunging so badly that he snapped himself around in a circle at the end of his leash. I've had dogs before, but I've NEVER seen a dog do that.

He's extremely smart and listens very well in the house and on the walk. He heels well, was housetrained within 6 weeks of coming home, will sit and stay for 10+minutes, actually runs to his crate when you say "time for bed", is submissive in the house as he routinely gives up his belly with no issue, sits at all cross roads, will not take food out of my hand or eat out of his bowl until we tell him it's get the point.

But if someone walks/runs/bikes towards us, he goes crazy. We had a trainer here tell us to use a choke chain and to restrain him when he does this by choking him, but obviously that did not work. I have been trying to make him sit and look me in the eye to calm him down, which seems to snap him out of it, but doesn't stop him from doing it the next time. And like I said, he's not just barking and growling, if he got loose I have no question that his intention is to attack, not just scare away.

It's worse in the house. We've had houseguests several times and his aggression has gotten worse with each person. Our first set, he was growly and unhappy, but seemed to warm up to them to the point that he was laying in their lap happily after two or three days. Each morning however, if they tried to walk in the kitchen, he would attempt to bite. By our third set of guests, he couldn't be trusted at all as any movement by them could have resulted in a bite.

We have a hard time finding help here as this is actually what the locals WANT in a dog. We've actually had people offer us cash and to trade a pure bred Rottweiler for our dog straight up due to his aggression.

We do now have a good, effective muzzle, and am attempting to socialize him, but it's hard because 1)there's not that many places to go, and 2) he's insane.

So, my question is what do I do when he's going ballistic? Now that we have the muzzle, I'm not as concerned about him hurting someone, but I know that's just a stop gap and not a real solution. Please help as we love Hugo but we're concerned about what will happen to him if he ever does injure someone.
Posted by Lucass-Mom
Sep 29, 2008
I certainly understand your concerns. I posted a similiar problem with my dog Lucas who has actually bitten someone approaching us in our driveway, and snarled at someone who reached out to him at the dog park. There has to be some help for these guys, and obvioulsy we love them enough to find it. If you find anything that helps, please let me know, and I will do the same for you and your dog buddy! Lucas's Mom
Posted by nan
Sep 30, 2008
Please look at the food you are feeding...........even though it may be a high quality food it may not be the right one for that certain dog. I have had fear issues with my 16 month old Golden Retriever turn around fast by changing foods. Right now I am using Canidae Chicken 1/2 lamb 1/2 mixed (have to do it myself)..........I tried Evo (one of the best they say) and I could not believe how they acted.......went back to Canidae and they were fine. Also some of the treats can cause behavior problems.......even though I buy all natural treats even some of them cause the fear issues to come up.

I also use a flower essence called Fear and Anxiety in their water and it is slowly helping can do so much to help change things. Diet is the first concern I have found over the years that affects the health and behavior of our pets.

Good Luck
Posted by Lucass-Mom
Sep 30, 2008
Thanks Nancy! I have tried changing food, to more natural premium stuff, and do use herbal drops for anxiety in Lucas's water. I had a strange experience yesterday...I left him with some treats inside a rubber toy with peanut butter to keep him happy while I had to leave. Later in the afternoon when I took him out for a walk, all the great behaviors like heeling and sitting at corners, etc. that had taken place in the morning were gone! He even got definate, and rolled in the grass and went nuts running in circles on the end of his was so weird. When we got home, he started running wildly thru the house! I think peanut butter might have been the culprit??? Anyway, I thank you for your response, and think the food/diet must be important to dogs, just like people! No more peanut butter for Lucas! lol