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I strongly suggest that you offer to evaluate the dog for free. Although the time out of your day may be significant, I don't think it will take you much time to do a high level evaluation to understand the validity for this dog of fearful vs. aggression. If you find that the owner's descriptions are accurate, then you might offer a high level estimate of what you would plan to do and what the owner would be responsible for doing. Then, provide soft progress milestones with honest confidence levels of when your next decisions would be. The owner would want to know if you can fix their dog [And you may be able to tell fairly quickly if you cannot], how much it will cost, how much effort for them, and how long it will take.

If the dog can't be fixed, then it may not be a good idea to rehome - but I don't believe this is a terminal case. This also doesn't really sound like an 'aggressive' dog, b/c he 'calms' down too quickly and easily. And, you did say 'fearful' so I imagine that you reduce a lot of the fear in a few months. Although trust may take a little time to establish, I think that positive methods [It's Yer Choice, etc.] can work better, and almost as quickly as the punishment methods above.

Re: "But now this is a fearful dog that has a ton of negative associations and the battle is fear on top of however she might have been damaged by previous training methods. " I don't think that this will turn out being as big a problem as you fear. Although the history may be useful to know, I believe that if you take the case, you'd address current behaviors, not necessarily their originations. For example, did the dog really growl at kids [menacing?] or did the dog bark at kids ... ? In either case, treats might be part of the treatment, and not a shock collar, so I'm not as concerned with the history. And, I'm not as concerned with methods that did not work, except to know not to apply those methods. I'm more interested in diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment.

So the question is, can you evaluate and help this dog, and how long will it take? That decision is still yours. The decision to keep trying is up to the owner.
 
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