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Hello Everyone!

I have a Mini Aussie that will be 3 years old in July. I've had her since she was 9 weeks old. Enrolled her in basic training courses right after I got her and took her to dog parks occasionally and out on walks. I socialized her the best that I could. But ..... she's becoming more worrisome. I believe changes trigger aggression.

In her first 2 obedient courses (each once a week for 6 weeks) she did extremely well. Was comfortable with the other students and people. But in her 3rd course it changed up the room and people and she would bark and lunge, mainly at the teacher when she would try and approach.

Now fast forward a little ways, we've moved out of state and now are living with my family (4 new people to her). When we first introduced her into their house she would bark at them but after a few weeks she calmed down. Now she's made this her territory so anyone new that enters becomes a problem. She barks, lunges unexpectedly, circles, and low growles. She has never followed through and bit. But it's only a matter of time I believe.

I've enrolled her in a 5 week 1 on 1 class to try and manage her aggression but the teacher believes she has "Rage Agression" and to consider putting her down. I've done my research on it and im kinda on the fence weather I agree or not because in public she's ok unless she gets startled. I take her to groomers and while she barks they say she does great. But at her new vet she barks and lunges. It's just so unpredictable but at the same time it's mainly new situations that trigger it.

The older shes getting the worse it's becoming. Basically I just wanna see if other people have experienced this and how you managed it or over come it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

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I would also suggest having a full workup done at your regular vets, including bloodwork. Many medical issues can cause behavioral problems, either because the dog is in pain/discomfort or because their physiology is out of whack. You definitely want to know if something like hypothyroid is going on, because if there's a medical problem at the root of the behavior then no amount of training or behavior modification will completely fix it.

If she gets a clean bill of health, I absolutely agree a qualified behaviorist is your next best step. They'll be able to properly evaluate your dog and make a individual program that will work for both of you, as well as advise you on such things as psychiatric medication if it seems necessary. And yes, there are psych meds for dogs! They can make an enormous difference, and I urge you not to be overly wary or consider them a 'last resort' if a professional thinks they'd be appropriate for your dog.
 

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Has your dog ever broken skin on a person? What kind of training has she gone through? Be specific about techniques.

I don't know of any reputable trainer who would diagnose ANY dog with "rage aggression" and recommend euthanasia for a Level 1 bite... no contact. (I could be wrong, but it's what it sounds like).
 

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Can you get your money back? This sounds very suspicious.
I agree with the others. You definitely need to start with a medical workup and veterinary behaviorist. Then they may be able to lead you to a proper trainer in behavior that won't tell you to euthanize your dog.
In the mean time, I would work on getting her used to a basket muzzle. https://muzzleupproject.com/muzzle-training/
 

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Nothing in your post suggests Rage Aggression to me. RA is a relatively rare neurological condition that will often manifest as a sudden unprovoked period of extreme aggression and vicious attack, followed by a peculiar non-recollection of said attack. In other words, the dog will attack loved ones and caregivers for no apparent reason whatsoever, then shortly thereafter seek love and attention from that person as if nothing had happened.

Your situation sounds more like just .. basic fear aggression. Aussies and especially MAS can be quite prone to this. RA is mostly limited to English Springer Spaniels with a show-line heritage.

I would arrange for an assessment from a vet who specializes in neurology. And if the results indicate that it is NOT RA, then I'd proceed with training from a general behavioural perspective, which includes standard counter-conditioning and desensitization protocols. With the help of a different trainer, of course.
 

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We own an Aussie mix and he acts exactly like that. Aussies, especially those from places like pet stores or backyard breeders (ours was most likely a puppy mill dog) can be super sensitive and nervous. This kind of aggression is fear aggression, and it comes from feeling like things are out of control. Aussies are very OCD about things being in control, and freak out about the smallest changes, especially strangers approaching people or things they are about.
Now, we're still working with our dog, and sometimes he has to be locked in a separate room from people who visit, but don't give up hope yet. Fear aggression can be helped with training specifically to build confidence and trust.

Best of luck!
 
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