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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking for help to rehabilitate an aggressive Chessy with a bite history. My Chessy is a neutered male, just under 2 years old. He was perfect up until he was around 17-18 months old. We have been working with a trainer. He is much improved, but he remains unpredictable.

He is a wonderful family pet, sweet, playful and affectionate. If possible, we want to "fix" this behavior. He is a much-loved member of our family. Re-homing home is an option if he remains unpredictable. I can't bring myself to think about putting him down.

We are in northern California. Any advice/referral you can give me would be very much appreciated.
 

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whitlync,

Welcome to RTF.

Aggressive biting is a major fault and obviously dangerous, so it needs to be addressed seriously. Putting a dog down is always distressing, as we in RTF are all too aware, and let's hope it doesn't come to that. However the thought that a child had been savaged by a large dog when it could have been avoided should weigh heavily in your decision making.

I think if you could let us know a little more about his behaviour it would greatly help.

Just what does "aggressive" mean? Does he initiate attacks on other dogs or people without being provoked? How many times has he bitten people or other dogs and with what outcomes? Does he bite out of fear? Some dogs can be a bit "nippy" but they aren't really going full on ripping and tearing; when a dog means it, it's not a thing pleasant to contemplate never mind experience. Is he a nipper rather than a biter? What is your trainers analysis and what is he recommending / doing?

We are more angled to field training in RTF than to deep behaviour modification of the sort you are following, but maybe someone can help, particularly with referrals.

Best of luck,
 

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I hope you aren't using a positive only trainer. That's all I can really say about it.

Chessies (all dogs really) go through a change right about 1.5 yrs old when they all of a sudden decide that, if no one is going to be their leader, they will be the leader. Can't say that this is what your boy has done. But it wouldn't surprise me.

If your trainer is not willing to use items like pinch collars, choke chains, e-collars, or other devices - then try to find one that does. And one that absolutely knows how to deal with aggressive dogs and has a track record of rehabilitation.... Someone who uses Leerburg methods or has been through Leerburg training would be a good start, IMO. Dog Training | San Diego Canine | Poway is one, but I am sure there are others.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I am looking for help to rehabilitate an aggressive Chessy with a bite history. My Chessy is a neutered male, just under 2 years old. He was perfect up until he was around 17-18 months old. We have been working with a trainer. He is much improved, but he remains unpredictable.

He is a wonderful family pet, sweet, playful and affectionate. If possible, we want to "fix" this behavior. He is a much-loved member of our family. Re-homing home is an option if he remains unpredictable. I can't bring myself to think about putting him down.

We are in northern California. Any advice/referral you can give me would be very much appreciated.
I hope you aren't using a positive only trainer. That's all I can really say about it.

Chessies (all dogs really) go through a change right about 1.5 yrs old when they all of a sudden decide that, if no one is going to be their leader, they will be the leader. Can't say that this is what your boy has done. But it wouldn't surprise me.

If your trainer is not willing to use items like pinch collars, choke chains, e-collars, or other devices - then try to find one that does. And one that absolutely knows how to deal with aggressive dogs and has a track record of rehabilitation.... Someone who uses Leerburg methods or has been through Leerburg training would be a good start, IMO. Dog Training | San Diego Canine | Poway is one, but I am sure there are others.
To respond to Tobias and the Colonel - we are using a “balanced” trainer and are using both the prong collar and e-collar.
My Chessy’s behavior issues are distinct depending on the situation. When leashed, he sometimes does not like unleashed dogs coming up to him and he will lunge an snarl. As far as I know, he hasn’t actually bitten a dog. I have stood there and had the owner inspect their dog and even given out my name and number if asked. The mystery to me is that he only does this sometimes. There are dogs who come up to him and literally get in his face and he doesn’t react.
When my Chessy is off-leash, he ignores dogs unless they come up to him. Again, sometimes (not always) he goes after then. Again, no biting just a lot of scary snarling. Since my Chessy is huge, he’s the one on top.
My Chessy has a bite history. Both times he put his mouth over the forearm. He let go when yelled at. And then acts as if nothing happened. The first time, the person didn’t want to show me her arm and walked away. The second time, his teeth didn’t puncture the skin but there were red marks.
Hope this gives you more context. I have also been in touch with CBR for advice. If he can’t be rehabilitated, I am hoping we can re-home him unless experienced trainers tell me we should put him down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
No - same dog. Wonderful family pet. Unpredictable in public and towards strangers.
Also, we have a small shin-tzu/Yorkie mix who is the boss of him. No resource guarding. No food guarding. Very docile and compliant within our household and few close friends he has known since he was a puppy.
 

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Have you had a full physical, including a full thyroid panel done on him? Low or out of balance thyroid can cause anxiety and/or aggression and normal onset is around 2 years old.

If you can't "fix" him, you can't re-home him. You would be turning a liability over to someone else to deal with.

Meredith
 

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Is it possible to rehabilitate aggressive Chessy?
Sometimes....
I had a female that was exactly as you described. Sometimes it's easier to just change your behavior instead of the dogs.
Mine was a wonderful hunting dog. Moderately good field test participant.
But terrible walking down the street or going to a party in a yard full. Not fun for ether of us. So she lounged on the couch or in her kennel or run unless training, hunting or testing. She and I were both happier that way.
 

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He would have broken the skin on your arm if he intended to, so that's a positive. Maybe a big positive, I'm no expert. On leash it may be a fight or flight response, and he cannot flee on leash. It becomes your job (well, its always your job) to protect your dog from threats and perceived threats. I speculate when he's free he knows he can split and is much less worried.

With that pontificating aside, you need an expert. Maybe more than a trainer. If I recall, isn't Pete (a member here) pretty good with agression? You might try sending him a pm. Internet advice is worth what you pay for it.
 

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My Chessy’s behavior issues are distinct depending on the situation. When leashed, he sometimes does not like unleashed dogs coming up to him and he will lunge an snarl. As far as I know, he hasn’t actually bitten a dog. I have stood there and had the owner inspect their dog and even given out my name and number if asked. The mystery to me is that he only does this sometimes. There are dogs who come up to him and literally get in his face and he doesn’t react.
When my Chessy is off-leash, he ignores dogs unless they come up to him. Again, sometimes (not always) he goes after then. Again, no biting just a lot of scary snarling. Since my Chessy is huge, he’s the one on top.
My Chessy has a bite history. Both times he put his mouth over the forearm. He let go when yelled at. And then acts as if nothing happened. The first time, the person didn’t want to show me her arm and walked away. The second time, his teeth didn’t puncture the skin but there were red marks.
Hope this gives you more context. I have also been in touch with CBR for advice. If he can’t be rehabilitated, I am hoping we can re-home him unless experienced trainers tell me we should put him down.
TBH , You are unlikely to find a solution that suits you on here. With all the best intentions and well meaning replies. You may like ,and advocate the replies that nurture, and encourage your perception and, your endeavors so far.
Even referrals, unless You change the environments .
( That's the issue imo) based on the Intel. Plenty experts on here, sounds like you need one on the ground.
 

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whitlync, It appears to me the aggression is only towards other dogs when your dog is on lead and other dogs approach and invade your dog's space. If true, feel free to consider the below:

Here is a suggestion: (one possible way to address based upon what I see in my mind's eye)

When you are walking on a public path and another dog is approaching, turn away and get off the path. Tell pup sit and show him a ball and get him interested in it. Give the rope/leash a slight tug to reinforce the sit. Have pup's back facing the path and his face looking at you and the ball or toy. Get him wanting that ball. Ignore the passing person and dog. Be more interesting than the passing dog. This is assuming the oncoming dog and person is under control and they realize you have no interest in visiting with them and they respect that and keep on going.

when the dog passes, play a catch or two and toss the ball right in pup's mouth. Teach him to play catch.

Implement a program where your dog knows that when strangers are approaching, he is to focus on YOU and it is awesome and fun.

If others ask if your dog is friendly, just say "Please let's not let them get together today, I don't want his training to unravel." Smile when you say it. Or just - "He's in training, please keep your dog separated from him."

If a strange dog is approaching offlead, sit your dog and walk out towards the oncoming dog and make yourself big and ward the oncoming dog off. Don't let a strange dog get in your dog's face. This assumes your dog will sit when told and you can walk out and away from him.

Dog fights happen when dogs get close enough to be bitten. Don't let strange dogs get close to your dog. Keep your dog under control and insure that others do the same.

*
 

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I am looking for help to rehabilitate an aggressive Chessy with a bite history. My Chessy is a neutered male, just under 2 years old. He was perfect up until he was around 17-18 months old. We have been working with a trainer. He is much improved, but he remains unpredictable.

He is a wonderful family pet, sweet, playful and affectionate. If possible, we want to "fix" this behavior. He is a much-loved member of our family. Re-homing home is an option if he remains unpredictable. I can't bring myself to think about putting him down.

We are in northern California. Any advice/referral you can give me would be very much appreciated.
You need to contact Pete here on this forum. He is in Idaho and is an excellent trainer/rehab manager. When I was there (maybe 13 years ago) a young man brought in a Chessie in a similar situation as yours. He too was from CA. Over the summer they managed to make huge improvements. If you are willing to commit, Pete can help you.
I too had a wonderful Chessie. But at the same age as yours he tried on being boss dog. By taking charge of all reactions be they to dogs or strangers, we were able to get through that stage and he never went after a dog or bit anyone at all. He did bite me once when he was 13 as I unintentionally grasped a paw that was hurting from arthritis. He left us April 1. He was a fabulous dog.
 
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Dog fights happen when dogs get close enough to be bitten. Don't let strange dogs get close to your dog. Keep your dog under control and insure that others do the same.
How does one do that ? while attempting to turn the other way and trying to be more exciting or rewarding/luring with a tasty morsel , and the other dog off lead want's the same . How do you ensure others ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
He would have broken the skin on your arm if he intended to, so that's a positive. Maybe a big positive, I'm no expert. On leash it may be a fight or flight response, and he cannot flee on leash. It becomes your job (well, its always your job) to protect your dog from threats and perceived threats. I speculate when he's free he knows he can split and is much less worried.

With that pontificating aside, you need an expert. Maybe more than a trainer. If I recall, isn't Pete (a member here) pretty good with agression? You might try sending him a pm. Internet advice is worth what you pay for it.
I tried to message Pete privately but the site wouldn’t let me because I’m new. I’m hoping he sees my post.
 

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Really not sure anyone could help without an onsite evaluation. That said I've been familiar with a couple of Chessie's who some might call aggressive under certain circumstances. One that killed 2 dogs at 2 separate times who invaded his yard; never aggressive to his family but strangers in his space NO. Another who ran a UPS man up a tree, becuase said driver choose to enter a gate when "his" young children were in the front yard alone. Thing with both of them was they were never anything but loving and tolerant of their people-pact; outsiders watch out. So basically very good OB training and a strong handler that knew their dogs and were in charge all the time and never allowed their dogs to get into situations where something might trigger, the dog to have to act. Will say I trained with one of these Chessie's one time got into a heated interaction with an aggressive stranger at a gas station, Was glad to have that type of dog at that point.
 
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