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Hi everyone-

We have 2 dogs- one is a Labradoodle, 7, and the other is a Cavachon (Bichon and King Charles) 3.

The Labradoodle is a great dog and never has any behavioral troubles, but the Cavachon, Sam, is quite a different story.

Sam was great as a puppy, other than the usual potty issues and such, but sometime after about 6 months, he became aggressive towards strangers. He is fine with the people living with us, anyone he met before that time, anyone new that spends several hours in our house while he is separated from them, and any employee at the vet/boarder, regardless of if he knows them.

He has bitten a few people we know, most of the time they walk in before we can control him fully and he lunges. One of the things that he can do, despite being only about 35 pounds, is just lunge when we thing we have him under control and really pull your arm to get to someone. It is very strange, and this is frightening. My parents and I have tried several things, but they don't work for some reason.

We started using a new boarder this summer, and contrary to my fears, he was perfectly happy and fine with the people there right away on his first visit, but here at home or in hotels where we're staying, he'll attack strangers.

As I already mention, if I have a friend over in the other room for a few hours or a couple times, he gets used to them and will be friendly to them. But newcomers he is very aggressive towards. Today a neighbor walked in the door before my mom let him in as she was trying to get him under control, and he bit the guy. Everyone has been understanding with the matter and they always say they're fine, but my mom now says that we just can't keep him.

The breeder told us that if there every came a time when we could no longer care for the dog, we could take him back to the farm and he would either live there or they could find him a new home, but when we looked into that several months ago, they said that they couldn't take him back. If we give him to a shelter because he bites, he'll likely be put down right away, and I can't handle that.

Can anyone point me towards something I can do to fix this issue? I don't want my dog dying. If it helps, around the time that he became pretty aggressive, we found out he has horrible allergies to all sorts of things, and even though he eats special food, he still itches horribly all the time. Could that have something to do with it?
 

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Additional info: He is neutered, however he still humps/tires to hump our female labradoodle almost daily.
 

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First, I think you need to consult a behaviorist. A dog that has bitten several times is a serious liability and this isn't a situation that in my opinion can be fixed with advice given over the internet. There are things we can suggest you do but without us being there to see the situation in person it's really hard to give adequate advice.

Second, you need to get the dog under control so you can prevent him from biting anyone in the future. Let all your friends know the situation and keep your doors locked at all times. Get the dog under control before you open the door, no matter who is visiting. This could mean sending him to his crate or putting him in a front clip harness with leash attached so he can't lunge. It's up to you to protect your dog and your friends!
 

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First thing is to get him a full work-up at the vet's. Bloodwork and everything. Thyroid problems and hormonal imbalances can cause aggression.

Once health problems are ruled out, a veterinary behaviorist might be able to help. Or a good positive-reinforcement based trainer. If you don't know where to find a behaviorist/trainer, try calling all the rescue groups in the area and ask who they recommend.
 

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I'm not sure if allergies could be behind his behavior. Has he had his thyroid tested? I'd contact a canine behaviorist to properly assess him if that hasn't been done. They could given you some steps to follow in order to improve his behavior, if possible. In the mean time, I would not allow him to have contact with ANYONE outside the family. If company comes over, he should be put away. If he needs to be taken into public, he may need a muzzle. Particularly in places with high concentrations of people. I would not let him off leash, if you even do so, not even in enclosed parks. At this point you need to strictly manage him; one day he could get someone who is not "understanding".
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
I'm not sure if allergies could be behind his behavior. Has he had his thyroid tested? I'd contact a canine behaviorist to properly assess him if that hasn't been done. They could given you some steps to follow in order to improve his behavior, if possible. In the mean time, I would not allow him to have contact with ANYONE outside the family. If company comes over, he should be put away. If he needs to be taken into public, he may need a muzzle. Particularly in places with high concentrations of people. I would not let him off leash, if you even do so, not even in enclosed parks. At this point you need to strictly manage him; one day he could get someone who is not "understanding".
We manage him like that- the people he is not familiar with- he gets locked up. If we have family over then he's fine. If I have a friend over, he is separated via a gate, even if he knows them well. If one of our neighbors he's known for a long time comes over, he's out and fine. It's just these people he hasn't met that he struggles with. He's never off leash, unless he's in the back yard, which is completely fenced off. He gets put in the crate when large groups- whether he knows all of them or not- come over.

I'm in the process of finding a good behaviorist for him now. I have a couple i'll have my mom call the vet about tomorrow. I've been trying to find what caused the switch we saw in him. One thing that we noticed is after we had sent him to a groomer in the area a few times he came back with some minor cuts where they had clipped him too close, and that time he was really shaken up for the rest of the day, so we stopped sending him there.

I was always afraid I had done something wrong to terrify him of people, but he just loves people he knows- he's a big licker, he's a playful guy, and he loves hopping up on the couch and sitting with us. I just don't know what to do!

He also barks- a lot. Whenever someone is walking down the street he'll flip. He does the same thing with squirrels, rabbits, birds. He'll go even more bonkers if the person walks up on the lawn- and he goes BESERK when the electric company employee comes to read our meter.
 

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I agree with everyone else that a full vet checkup is in order.

How much training/exercise does he get? He obviously has issues going on with strangers but excess energy can definitely feed anxiety if this is more of a fear based problem (bite/put on a big show so the scary people leave the house).

I would do a couple tests myself, if he were mine. For example, going out to a secluded area and really working him out. A long hike or at least 5+ hours outside doing something, walking, swimming, tugging, etc on leash and without people around. Then I would take him home, put him in his crate in the other room with a frozen kong/bully stick, and invite a friend to come over to just walk in the door. If he doesn't go quite as berserk (safely in his crate!) then I would know "hey, I need to up his exercise" and do training.

I agree a behaviorist would be best to really evaluate him. This is a good site to find a person: http://iaabc.org/

Does he draw blood on people when he bites?
 
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