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I have had dogs all my life (60 years) and I have never ever had an aggressive dog until now. I have had 6 Great Danes, but never had one show any type of aggression to a person. I have a male Dane that we have had since he was 12 weeks old. He is 8 years old and has started to be aggressive. First if he was in the kennel and people were in our yard he would growl and bark. This was maybe 2-3 years ago. When we let him out around people he was fine. Then about 6 months ago he was on the leash with my husband and a neighbor was walking by and put his hand out to him and my Dane nipped his hand, but did not break the skin. Then in July we were camping and our granddaughter was in the camper with our Dane and Bassett Hound. She had them both on the sofa bed with her and was snuggling. She got up to go to the bathroom and the dogs got down. She started to fold up the sofa bed and accidentally stepped on the Dane's paw and fell pushing him with her foot as she fell. He grabbed her arm and bit down and shook it. This caused wounds enough that we had to go to the ER for stitches. Then last weekend a friend who the Dane has been around numerous times was visiting and the two dogs were in their large fenced area. He raised his arm pointing at something and the Dane aggressively went for his hand. I don't know what to do. I love my dog, but I no longer trust him with anyone and don't want to run the risk of him hurting anyone else. What are your thoughts?
 

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My first step would be a trip to the vet. A change like that in a dog who has previously been fine might indicate a medical condition. Have the vet screen his thyroid as well, since thyroid imbalances can cause a change in behavior. Eight is quite senior for a Dane, so make sure your vet checks for "senior dog issues" like arthritis. Pain can cause dogs to be quite on edge. You might also consider talking to your vet about canine cognitive disfunction, which can also cause changes in behavior.

In the meantime you should closely manage your dog. Don't allow him around non-household members, because he has shown he is willing to attack people he is familiar with. You might consider training him to wear a muzzle. Look up the Muzzle Up project which teaches owners how to positively condition their dogs to wearing the muzzle.
 

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I'm with Lillith about getting him to the vet and seeing if there are medical problems. Where we differ is that if nothing like that can be identified and remedied, I'd euthanize. It's hard, it's sad, but a dog that size can do real damage. In some parts of the country I think that trip to the ER would have meant a report to animal control and at that point what would happen would be up to them, not you.

You have to know how fortunate you are that what happened with your granddaughter wasn't a lot worse than it was, and IMO even muzzled, an aggressive Dane could do real damage to a child or senior.
 
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