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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello everyone,

We rehomed a 9 week old bearded collie (from a working background) from his original owners, who collected him from a farm at 8 weeks, however they needed to rehome him as he was too nippy. Our household consists of: myself (25), partner (25), little brother (14) and parents (50+). Loki is now 10 months old.

He was a very mouthy puppy, he did not destroy anything other than mine and my partners arms, but mostly, my partners arms. He would always use his mouth when he plays, wanted attention, wasn't getting his own way. We tried several methods to stop his mouthing, by ignoring him, walking away, time-outs and re-direction with toys. However, nothing seemed to work and he slowly just grew out of it when his adult teeth came through. He never liked being told "no" and would always air snap and bare his teeth. He went to puppy school and has always been very stubborn and is quite hard to train (doesn't listen, doesn't want to be told what to do).

Between the ages of 5 months to 7 months, he was really really well behaved. He started wanting to walk off of the lead, he would come back, he was really really affectionate and loved belly rubs. At around 7 months, he must have hit puberty and he started to mark and we was marking quite a lot (but never in the house), and he stopped becoming as affectionate, he started to not go on his back at all. Around this time, he also started to mount peoples legs a lot, so much so that we have had introduce a houseline to interrupt this behaviour.

A few weeks after all of this, I bent down to stroke him, and he lunged and bite my arm and then started to growl at me. He didn't growl before biting, he just bit straight away (however, there wasn't any blood - and has never been). Since then, he seems to growl/bite when he is touched, this could be touched on the head, the back or paws. Sometimes, he enjoys it, and comes over for attention, sometimes he'll come over for attention and then still growl/bite - it is very unpredictable. He really doesn't like his belly being touched at all, and doesn't lie on his back at all anymore, so everyone in the household has stopped trying to touch his belly, or touch him at all, unless he comes over. We took him to the vets initially to do a full health check, and everything came back normal.

He seems to growl/bite my partner the most, sometimes he will even growl at him when he walks past him, or if my partner touches me. If there has been an incident where the dog has growled at someone, he will then be "funny" with my partner all day, he will stare at him a lot, watch his movements, and growl if he goes near him.

When the dog growls/bites, we tell him "no" and ask him to leave the room and then give him a time out.

We have had a behaviourist come over, who seemed to address his other issues (barking, being "bratty" and the humping) rather than the aggression issues. We have since tried to book in another behaviourist, but this is proving difficult due to COVID.

He lets me stroke him now, but I never do too much, I'll stroke him several times, then wait to see his reaction (does he move away, does move his head toward me as if he wants more etc.). However, my partner cannot stroke him at all. But, Loki will let my partner play fight with him, and will be on his back then and be wanting to be touched and pulled, but as soon as my partner says "good boy" or anything affectionate/praise related, Loki's whole demeaner changes and he will back away and will then stare at him for several minutes and will stop playing and will not let him touch him at all.

He can sometimes be resource aggressive, and will not let people walk past him if he is eating his food. So when we feed him, we give him his space.

In recent weeks, his marking and humping has decreased, and so has his growling/biting. However, it is very unpredictable - and as he's a 26kg puppy, it is very scary when these situations happen.

He only ever acts like this in the house. When he is out of the house on walks or in the garden, he is a completely different dog. He will let strangers stroke him not issue and will go on the floor wiggling because he want's strangers/other dogs attention. This only happens in the house.

We are open to any suggestions/thoughts - and have even thought of chemical castration to see if this has any benefits.

Thank you for reading. Take care and keep well.

· Super Moderator
8,737 Posts
There are a few things that I'm picking up, but I'm going to start with an important one.

When the dog growls/bites, we tell him "no"
Never tell a dog off, or punish him for growling. The growl is an important communication from your dog and should be respected.

Dogs give a series of signals that they are unhappy, but unfortunately most people don't recognise them because they can be quite subtle. To begin with there is often wide eyes, lip licking and yawning. There is also muscular tension in the body. Then the ones we sometimes do see - growl, snarl, nip then bite. If the early signals are not seen (or, in the dog's view, ignored) he won't bother with them because us stupid humans pay no attention anyway; so he may go straight to the bite. So it's important never to ignore the early signals or reprimand the dog for giving them; stopping the dog from giving them would be like taking the battery out of a smoke alarm.

I wonder if he has maybe disliked some of your handling but you have missed the signals.

He never liked being told "no" and would always air snap and bare his teeth.
This is possibly another clue - and actually, saying ”no” to a dog leaves a behaviour vacuum. Two things from that - first it doesn't tell him what you do want, and second, it is hard for dogs (and people) to ”not do”. If I told you to not think of a green and pink striped cartoon elephant, what is the first thing that comes to mind? It is always easier to train an alternative and incompatible behaviour. Like, for a dog that jumps up, train a sit - he can't sit and jump at the same time.

always been very stubborn and is quite hard to train (doesn't listen, doesn't want to be told what to do).
Dogs are not stubborn as we know it, there are three main reasons in my view why a dog doesn't comply with what we ask.

First, he doesn't understand. That's where training comes in, you need to teach him what you want, and reward when he gets it right so he knows he has done the right thing.

Second, the motivation or reward of doing what he is already doing is higher than the motivation or reward of doing what you are asking. This is why some dogs won't, for example, recall when they are playing or chasing squirrels. So make sure what you offer is of far higher value - or, if you can't beat something like a squirrel chase, don't allow the opportunity for it to happen (i.e. don't set him up to fail). Use a leash or a long line to keep control.

Third, you are working against a deeply rooted breed trait that the dog has been selectively bred for over centuries. There is a reason why we don't use terriers to herd sheep - it can be done but it is a lot harder.

If there has been an incident where the dog has growled at someone, he will then be "funny" with my partner all day, he will stare at him a lot, watch his movements, and growl if he goes near him.
This sounds like a dog that is more unsure than aggressive.

For that reason I wouldn't rush to neuter him, I think your plan to use the chemical castration rather than surgical is wise, but I don't know if it can be used so young (I may be wrong)?

There are some positives - you know not to bother him while eating and to only pet him on his terms.

I would suggest your partner engages him in activities that stimulate his mind rather than rough play. I'm still not entirely clear what, apart from that, leads to the aggression and even whether it is true aggression or rough play going too far.

Can you give other examples of when it happens?

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Im not an expert by any means but I have had many dogs over the years. It sounds to me that your dog is unsure more than anything else. He is not quite sure where he fits in. I would just be patient, put together some training,feeding and sleep time on a consistent basis. Give him a routine to stick to. And I agree with the previous post from Joanne ,figure out if its aggression or just rough play that needs to be controlled. I had a Belgian Mal that would just be a terror if I didnt give him enough attention ( what I mean is dedicated training and play time). Calm secure structure may be the answer for you. Like I said I'm not an expert, just a thought.
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