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I had a puppy from my last litter come back to me a couple of weeks ago. I'm so upset! He's a wreck and I'm worried that I won't be able to fix all of his problems and find him a better forever home. Here's the rundown:

Great Dane pup born last October(8 months old). Previous owners returned stating that he's destructive, doesn't listen, isn't housebroken, has been to the emergency Vet twice for swallowing foreign objects(May 15th & 16th), is food aggressive, and may need shoulder surgery due to a dog fight with another family member's dog. Oh, and he barks incessantly.

I picked him up from his owners' on May 20th. Since being with me he has gained over 20lbs. I'm so upset and I feel like I failed to find him a proper home the first time. For the first week I mostly crated him to keep his shoulder from getting worse and also to help house train him. He's had diarrhea nonstop but I can't say I'm surprised because of how much I've been feeding him to put weight on him. For the most part his housebreaking has been wonderful. He has had a few accidents but considering the diarrhea I can't blame him. He does prefer to go to the bathroom on my deck. Not cool.

My vet is worried about him having OCD in his shoulder and we will likely have to X-ray next week. Otherwise he looks to be in good health. His weight is coming along great but we can still see his hip bones so we still have a ways to go.

Okay now for most of my real problems:

He's food aggressive. Not only towards the other dogs but towards people. I crate everyone during feeding times so he's realized a bit that they can't have his food. But I tried putting a new collar on him tonight while I was feeding him and he hunched over his bowl and flat out growled at me. Upset, I made him sit and took his bowl away for a few seconds until he calmed down. I gave it back but when I reached out to pat his rump he growled at me again. Again, considering his weight I can understand his food aggression.

I took him to meet our dog trainer and he's extremely skittish, more so around men. He'd have no problem walking up to people or following them but as soon as they'd reach out to him he would jump away and hide his face in my legs.

The past couple of days his potty training has been awful. A couple of hours ago he woke up, stood up, stretched, looked me right in the eyes and squatted down and peed on the carpet.

Despite his behavior problems he's a very sweet boy. He's loving and affectionate, good with my kids, and gets along with both cats and dogs. I don't know what to do if my trainer can't fix him. The aggression is a new find and I haven't talked to him yet about it. Any advice or ideas to help him would be deeply appreciated. He's such a sweet boy on the inside and he deserves so much better than his original owners.
 

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I'm so sad to hear this :( I wish something could be done about the previous owners, cruelty charges or something! I hope things go well. Have you tried starting off with an empty bowel and with the measuring cup or something and pour in a little bit of food, step back, wait to let him finish it, wait for him to look at you, pour a little more and repeat the process? Or perhaps while he's eating, just randomly drop tasty morsel next to his bowl (close, but far enough that he doesn't growl) so hand approaching while eating = even better goodies? When he gets comfortable, you can try throwing the treats directly into his bowl.
 

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He's food aggressive. Not only towards the other dogs but towards people. I crate everyone during feeding times so he's realized a bit that they can't have his food. But I tried putting a new collar on him tonight while I was feeding him and he hunched over his bowl and flat out growled at me. Upset, I made him sit and took his bowl away for a few seconds until he calmed down. I gave it back but when I reached out to pat his rump he growled at me again. Again, considering his weight I can understand his food aggression.
He's not food aggressive yet, a food aggressive dog would instantly bite you for putting a collar on during feeding - for now he's insecure and afraid. You don't want to handle this problem unless you're sure it will work - see this link, it will educate you on the problem and potential solution - it will also help you identify a good trainer before you let him/her mess with your pup. I agree that it can be upsetting when your dog growls at you but it gets a lot worse once you get bit so be extra careful.

I took him to meet our dog trainer and he's extremely skittish, more so around men. He'd have no problem walking up to people or following them but as soon as they'd reach out to him he would jump away and hide his face in my legs.
This problem is easy to solve by a good trainer. Dog's trust is usually gained through dog's stomach - you don't want any "dominance theories" applied on this dog. Humans have so far been nothing but bad news for this dog and you want to turn that around.

The past couple of days his potty training has been awful. A couple of hours ago he woke up, stood up, stretched, looked me right in the eyes and squatted down and peed on the carpet.
Diarrhea and irregular stool can be easily caused by stress. Also, I would personally not overdose on kibble and such commercial stuff to get his weight right - that usually backfires. It is much better (IMO) to feed him smaller doses and gradually increase it as his body weight gets better.
Also, if he does it in his crate then that's really bad news - otherwise it can be solved by simply doing house training. An adult dog should learn it much quicker than a puppy. Search this forum for house training and you will find an abundance of information.

Despite his behavior problems he's a very sweet boy. He's loving and affectionate, good with my kids, and gets along with both cats and dogs. I don't know what to do if my trainer can't fix him. The aggression is a new find and I haven't talked to him yet about it. Any advice or ideas to help him would be deeply appreciated. He's such a sweet boy on the inside and he deserves so much better than his original owners.
Check out the link I gave - it is a good starting ground, takes about 30 minutes to read but goes a long way. His current food guarding is normal for a dog that has been unattended and starved for a long time. His owners probably fed him once a week or something such (seen it happen).
 

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Great Dane pup born last October(8 months old). Previous owners returned stating that he's destructive, doesn't listen, isn't housebroken, has been to the emergency Vet twice for swallowing foreign objects(May 15th & 16th), is food aggressive, and may need shoulder surgery due to a dog fight with another family member's dog. Oh, and he barks incessantly.
All these problems have been created by the dog owners, it's 100% human work of art. I will say one thing, a good dog breeder should easily identify criminals like this and not sell the dog to someone who is obviously going to buy the dog for birthday or christmas, wreck and return it. I'm not a breeder but I sometimes train other people's dogs or instruct them and it takes just half an hour of talk to see that a person is not only totally unqualified to handle a certain dog but doesn't quite plan to get involved either....
 

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Playing the devil's advocate here, I've had a pup before that I returned to a breeder. I've had dogs all my life and never had one that I couldn't manage housetraining with - I felt like such a failure. This particular pup (a boxer), peed ALL the time. He'd go outside and pee like a good boy, then come inside and start peeing while he walked in the house, right after he'd been outside. I had a very expensive test run on him to rule out a UTI - no infection. Unless he was in his crate, he was peeing! My floors couldn't take it - I went through a bottle of Nature's Miracle in 2 days - that was my breaking point. BTW, I didn't spank the dog for peeing in the house - I took him outside when he did it, as is recommended. I'm not a dog abuser, by any means. My vet was also at a loss, since I was following all the correct house training strategies.

Also, this pup was thin (but not anorexic). Apparently, there wasn't a kibble he could eat without giving him diahrrea. He was tried on several grain free kibbles, a lamb and rice kibble, and three different "hypoallergenic" vet diets. I'm not a RAW feeder, but apparently, this is the only diet he could handle (the breeder put him on RAW when I returned him).

I discovered that my breeder was NOT a good one. My pup also had undesceded testicles. When I returned him, she refused to refund my money, because this genetic defect (it is a genetic defect - I researched it) was not life threatening. She even admitted that she wasn't going to breed the female anymore, which let me know she knew the bitch was the problem. I didn't plan on breeding him, but it meant that the neutering was going to be very invasive. His testicles could not be felt AT ALL upon manipulation by my vet, meaning that they were likely way up in the abdomen.

I'm not saying that your pup's former owners were without blame, but there are two sides to every story. I'm just happy that they returned him to you, rather than dumping him at the pound.
 

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All these problems have been created by the dog owners, it's 100% human work of art. I will say one thing, a good dog breeder should easily identify criminals like this and not sell the dog to someone who is obviously going to buy the dog for birthday or christmas, wreck and return it. I'm not a breeder but I sometimes train other people's dogs or instruct them and it takes just half an hour of talk to see that a person is not only totally unqualified to handle a certain dog but doesn't quite plan to get involved either....
What shocked me most is that out of the entire litter they seemed like one of the best owners. They didn't have breed experience but were literally over here visiting him every week before he went home with them. The wife listened to everything I told her about health and training. She also interns for an equine veterinarian. They were nice and had two well behaved young boys. I will say that if I was to lay blame on someone it would be the husband. He didn't talk much while he was here and the wife had told me that he'd trained pit bulls before and 'knew what he was doing'. Don't get me wrong, I adore pit bulls but Great Danes are vastly more sensitive than pits when handled incorrectly.

I kept in contact with them over the phone and everything sounded fine until it just blew up with him going to the emergency vet. The only problems I heard out of him until I brought him home was just normal puppy issues; being stubborn, messing with the trash, etc. She always told me that they were working on it and he was doing better, he was a great dog and they loved him, etc etc.
 

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Starting over with this pup is best. I think you will get him there. Good for you to take him back.

I had a mal pup returned last year for aggression. This was an easy pup, by no means aggressive. Malinois bite, and his owner didn't handle it properly. Instead of telling me the issues early on, or working with a trainer, he would get nipped, jerk his hand away, and make a big deal. The pup thought this was a fun game!

In two weeks he was taught biting the handler gets him nothing. Two months later he went to a department, he just certified as a narcotic dog, lives and plays with his handlers family.

He was an experienced gsd handler, and had plenty of training available. Sometimes what you feel is a good match just doesn't work.
 

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Sassycat- That article was wonderful and somewhat addresses two of our issues(learn to drop an item he shouldn't have). We're going to try this tonight to see how he does. He's very intelligent so I'm hoping his brain will kick in.

Another problem. When I originally agreed to pick him up it was going to be on a temporary basis. I didn't realize the situation was so bad and I had told her that I'd work with him on his potty training and destructive problems and return him to her. I had told her to write me a list of her issues and I'd see what I could do. Well obviously I didn't get the real story from her the first time and now I don't want to give him back. Her contract states that if at any time I feel the dog wasn't properly cared for I would confiscate him from her but I don't want to be a total b**** about it. Does anyone have a tactful way to tell her he's not going back? If I tell her the whole truth I know I'm going to just lose my temper and blow up on her.
 

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I would just be honest. Be certain that it is the home, not issues with that dog. Try not to lose your temper, remain professional.
 
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