I received wonderful help this fall-- back then, I had a 6 month old dog from CL who I rehomed based on advice from this forum as well as vets, behaviorist, and rescues.
I really still wanted a dog, and my husband would only agree to a puppy. (I didn't want a puppy!) So, we researched a lot and got a Golden Retriever from a breeder who did all the health testing, basic socialization (he lives alone, so not as much as families), etc.
Overall, my puppy, who is now 6 months old, has been great. VERY nippy in those early weeks, but pretty quickly he moved from skin to clothing only. (Not so great because I wanted him to get more feedback about strength of bites, though.) He pretty much just chews on what we give him, is housebroken, does not resource guard, approaches things with curiosity but not fear (though he's gone through some fear periods), and has done great with clicker training. Likes my kids! We've been through 2 sessions of obedience/puppy school (we will be doing more), and he goes to a structured playtime weekly for one hour (monitored by a trainer and we are there as well). He is still very jumpy with new people and still too mouthy with new people for me to allow him to have a lot of interaction (esp. with kids), but with us, not too mouthy in general, esp. given that he is a GR. He takes treats nicely, has good impulse control inside, is able to relax on his mat, etc. Counter-surfing is still an issue even though he never finds anything.
I started talking him on walks pretty young, being careful not to overdo it. There was a lot of snow for weeks, and I always used food, so he had GREAT focus on me. I have trained him to be able to look at interesting things (dogs, people, squirrels) calmly (not when they are right close by, though) and then look back at me.
However, at about 4.5 months, I was treating him on his walk with more spaces in between, and he mounted me, grabbed the treat bag, bit my coat. From then on, I tried to be very careful and exacting with my spacing so that he could build up his tolerance to wait (variable schedule). That worked for awhile, but then on longer walks-- no. Every so often-- has always been longer walks-- he will suddenly give me a look, turn toward me, and really bite hard (bruising me).
This has happened for no apparent reason, or because of food, or because (in the case of a forest preserve), he wanted to run freely and I couldn't let him. Yesterday he did it again and I can't think why. It was a short walk and it has never happened on a short walk. This happens once a week.
I've tried ignoring him, but he just bites harder. Yesterday I did a treat scatter-- he went for them but then right back to me. Someone told me to sort of cover his eyes (not touching) to change perspective, but he bit my hand (though not hard). I also tried, for the first time, putting my leg up to block him (not knee him) and he just bit my pants. Thankfully, I was next to a post so I tied him there and waited for him to calm down.
IF I can catch his arousal building, I can work with him to sit, down, etc. but he absolutely will NOT sit or listen when he is already aroused. Yesterday, it happened so quickly-- one minute he was calmly walking across the street, but in the middle of the street he got The Look and when we reached the curb, he started. There was a car in the street but it was quiet. I live in a boring suburb.
I watch his body language a lot to see if he is stressed. I have NEVER forced him to do anything that he is cautious about. I offer clicks and treats when he chooses to explore, but that is it. I took him out a lot to different places when he was younger but was careful not to overdo. Now I am more worried to take him out because I don't want him to start biting.
Most of the time he is a really calm dog. But then he has these moments . . .
So, I am going to be working more diligently on the calming protocol and other protocols by Karen Overall. Just got a book-- Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out and it looks about the same. Had a trainer who has a degree in behavior come and she thinks we should manage/prevent the behavior as much as possible for now.
He used to do this in the yard OFF-LEASH, too (so it isn't just the leash), but I've been a lot more careful in our yard so he hasn't done it again.
Oh, and he plays tug well-- sits before he starts, pretty quick to give when I say to give.
Now, he also does get overstimulated by my kids sometimes-- if they come in the room jumping or being loud, he will want to mount them-- they do NOT bother him (we are very strict and everything is highly monitored), so I guess now we are going to work on training sessions where they jump/get crazy on purpose and he is treated for being calm. I used to do this when he was younger . . .not sure why I stopped.
Anyway, I know this is not a common issue but not rare. I've read tons of articles, posted on the GR forum, etc. One person I know took her dog to a behaviorist and just got the same calming protocol advice.
What I want to know is-- WHAT AM I MISSING? Have you been through this? Did your dog grow out of it?
It seems it happens with larger breeds more often. It's been pretty depressing and even sometimes feels scary. I just want to take him on a walk!
I talked to the breeder about it but got the whole alpha roll/choke collar speech so no advice I will follow.