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I currently have 3 dogs of my own. One is a foster fail, while the other two are my dogs of many years. I recently took in another dog as a foster from my sister. She no longer wanted the dog and said he was too high energy. I was concerned he would be taken to animal control or a shelter so I offered to foster him while I looked for a suitable home for him.
He is approximately a year old and is a lab/shepherd mix. He is high energy but he’s still a puppy so that’s understandable. In the beginning, all went very well. My dogs introduced to him very well, despite him being an unaltered male. There was an incident recently that makes me question his adoptability in a typical home. It was feeding time and I always separate the dogs. They all have individual crates. I fed two no problem. I went to feed my largest boy and get him in the crate when the lab/shepherd mix rushed into the room and went after my dog. I thought he was properly secure in the other room, but apparently not and that was my mistake. I was backed into a corner with my dog when the other came forward and began to try to attack my dog. My fiancée came inside and in that moment as I was in a corner behind the dogs, the shepherd mix bit me quite extensively in the thigh. My fiancée was able to get the dogs apart with minimal injuries to the dogs, but I got it pretty good. I imagine the bite was accidental when he was trying to bite my dog, but it was a big bite, deep, that I’m still on antibiotics for.
He is otherwise a very friendly dog. He plays gently, knows some tricks, house trained, and seems so highly adoptable. He does have another issue however and that’s food aggression. He will bare his teeth, tense up, hair standing, growling,etc. if you attempt to go near his food. I was in the process of trying to rectify this with hand feeding and slow training measures, but because of the bite I’m slightly apprehensive to continue right now. I certainly can’t keep him if he will be unpredictable, but I also don’t want to see him euthanized. My goal in the beginning was the prevent that and I still want to do all I can to help this dog. Is this a dog that has any potential of adoptability? Is there anything I can do to help him through these issues? He is so young, so cute, and seems like he could make a really good dog for someone, but he does have some issues that concern me in the long term. Any advice that can be provided in this situation?
 

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This dog is very adoptable. I almost wish I could adopt him lol
First, continue the handfeeding if you can- but if not, I understand- just sit near him, but (as I am sure you know, since you seem to be an experienced foster "parent") don't reach towards his food. Second, continue to keep him separate during feedings (again, I'm sure you were already going to). To me, this doesn't seem like any sort of unprovoked aggression. It was resource guarding. He is fed separately, so he doesn't understand that you also give the same (or similar) stuff to the other dogs. He saw you with "his" food, and there was another dog there, trying to eat it. Of course, this made him want to defend his food. So that is what he did. So this is not yet dog-aggression, it is still resource guarding. Perhaps finding him a home where he can be the only dog would be helpful, but this doesn't make him unadoptable. Continue working on his guarding, if you feel he shouldn't be adopted out with an issue- but often, a dog can still be adopted if it has issues (as long as the adopter knows, of course)

Have you tried feeding him and another dog in separate crates, but in the same room? For instance, if you had a long-ish hallway, you could put up a gate in the hallway (added security, both in that he'll feel safer and that he's more contained just in case), and put crates at either end. Feed the shepherd mix first, then feed the other dog- and I haven't met him, so obviously don't try if you think this is too much. But this could be an additional way to help with his guarding.

But I know plenty of dogs with this issue (or something similar) who got great homes. With training and management, a dog with that issue can live just fine in a home.
 

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I am willing to try anything to help him overcome any fear or anxiety he may feel in my home. He seems quite content most times. He’s a playful puppy that really just wants affection most times. He is great with the smaller of the two, but the larger one triggered him. Resource guarding definitely makes sense, considering the circumstances around what happened. He has never been in a position to eat with other dogs, so naturally there will be an adjustment period. I can try the close proximity crating as they eat. If it seems like an issue or causing anxiety and frustration, I can slowly increase proximity as well.
I will continue the hand feeding. I’m certainly not fearful around dogs, but I’m still getting used to him and what he is feeling and experiencing as well. He’s so young so I feel confident he can overcome any obstacles he may be facing. I just want him to make a good companion for someone. He’s been through a lot with switching homes so abruptly, really through no fault of his own, so if I can rectify the problem and help him find suitable placement, I’ll try my hardest to do so. I have had dogs overcome food aggression in the past, but never been bit as significantly as I was. He did have the “guilty” look that many dogs exhibit after something happens, so I feel for him and what he may be going through with the transition. At the moment, they do all go outside together and tend to play and get along famously. It’s when the food comes around, or special toys that he gets worked up. Thank you for the advice! It is much appreciated. I will continue to work with him. It will be a process, but if there is potential, I am always willing to try!
 

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I'm glad he does so well the rest of the time. He sounds like a great dog. And it sounds like you are doing everything to try to help him- that's wonderful, we need more people in the world who will do that. I'm sure with the patience and hard work you are putting in, he will improve greatly. Good luck!
 

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Thank you very much! I hope so. I’ll definitely check in on this forum more often for tips when needed. He is a great dog, just with his own “quirks” if you will, lol. I appreciate the advice!
 

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This dog is very adoptable. I almost wish I could adopt him lol
First, continue the handfeeding if you can- but if not, I understand- just sit near him, but (as I am sure you know, since you seem to be an experienced foster "parent") don't reach towards his food. Second, continue to keep him separate during feedings (again, I'm sure you were already going to). To me, this doesn't seem like any sort of unprovoked aggression. It was resource guarding. He is fed separately, so he doesn't understand that you also give the same (or similar) stuff to the other dogs. He saw you with "his" food, and there was another dog there, trying to eat it. Of course, this made him want to defend his food. So that is what he did. So this is not yet dog-aggression, it is still resource guarding. Perhaps finding him a home where he can be the only dog would be helpful, but this doesn't make him unadoptable. Continue working on his guarding, if you feel he shouldn't be adopted out with an issue- but often, a dog can still be adopted if it has issues (as long as the adopter knows, of course)

Have you tried feeding him and another dog in separate crates, but in the same room? For instance, if you had a long-ish hallway, you could put up a gate in the hallway (added security, both in that he'll feel safer and that he's more contained just in case), and put crates at either end. Feed the shepherd mix first, then feed the other dog- and I haven't met him, so obviously don't try if you think this is too much. But this could be an additional way to help with his guarding.

But I know plenty of dogs with this issue (or something similar) who got great homes. With training and management, a dog with that issue can live just fine in a home.
Actually, I think this is dangerous advice.

OP, Kensi is young and just studying animal/dog behaviour.

If he has resource guarding issues, you need to back off and give him space, not just sit beside him. Put his food down, leave the room and close the door - let him eat in peace. Don't put him in a crate beside other dogs - just feed him in another room entirely so he doesn't feel the need to guard his food.

The bite is redirected aggression - he didn't mean to bite you, like you said, he went for the other dog, presumably couldn't get to him. And lashed out at you instead. But what concerns me is that he clearly has poor bite inhibition of he bit you so badly that you're still on antibiotics.

This dog will need to be placed in an adult only home and one with no other dogs (possibly other pets). The new owner will have to accept a dog with a bite history and resource guarding issues and be competent and prepared to work with him - and owners with that level of experience who are willing to go through it again are thin on the ground, meaning the new owner will likely be out of their depth and require a qualified behaviourist, when most just want a pet dog that slots into their family like the missing piece.

And the fact is, there are plenty of dogs out there languishing in rescue centres around the Western world who have done absolutely nothing wrong, in rescue for no fault of their own and still can't find homes.
 

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Actually, I think this is dangerous advice.

OP, Kensi is young and just studying animal/dog behaviour.

If he has resource guarding issues, you need to back off and give him space, not just sit beside him. Put his food down, leave the room and close the door - let him eat in peace. Don't put him in a crate beside other dogs - just feed him in another room entirely so he doesn't feel the need to guard his food.

The bite is redirected aggression - he didn't mean to bite you, like you said, he went for the other dog, presumably couldn't get to him. And lashed out at you instead. But what concerns me is that he clearly has poor bite inhibition of he bit you so badly that you're still on antibiotics.

This dog will need to be placed in an adult only home and one with no other dogs (possibly other pets). The new owner will have to accept a dog with a bite history and resource guarding issues and be competent and prepared to work with him - and owners with that level of experience who are willing to go through it again are thin on the ground, meaning the new owner will likely be out of their depth and require a qualified behaviourist, when most just want a pet dog that slots into their family like the missing piece.

And the fact is, there are plenty of dogs out there languishing in rescue centres around the Western world who have done absolutely nothing wrong, in rescue for no fault of their own and still can't find homes.
Yes, I probably should have told OP that I was less experienced. However, I have a question about your comment. You said she should not sit near him. (now, I'm not, of course recommending that OP feed the dog, and the come over and sit RIGHT next to the dog- of course that would make the dog uncomfortable, and you never want to do that with this kind of issue, for sure). But would you still say that it is a bad idea to put the dog's food in the bowl, back off like 4 or 5 feet, sit down (ignoring the dog and its food). My previous rescue had horrible resource guarding, to the point where even hand-feeding wasn't possible at first. So we did that, turning our back to her while she ate. We eventually progressed to closer distances and handfeeding, and witching a year we could easily and confidently walk behind and around her while eating. This is what the behaviorist recommended us. So do you think we just lucked out there with it working for her?
 

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Yes, I probably should have told OP that I was less experienced. However, I have a question about your comment. You said she should not sit near him. (now, I'm not, of course recommending that OP feed the dog, and the come over and sit RIGHT next to the dog- of course that would make the dog uncomfortable, and you never want to do that with this kind of issue, for sure). But would you still say that it is a bad idea to put the dog's food in the bowl, back off like 4 or 5 feet, sit down (ignoring the dog and its food). My previous rescue had horrible resource guarding, to the point where even hand-feeding wasn't possible at first. So we did that, turning our back to her while she ate. We eventually progressed to closer distances and handfeeding, and witching a year we could easily and confidently walk behind and around her while eating. This is what the behaviorist recommended us. So do you think we just lucked out there with it working for her?
In the first instance, yes, I do think it would be a bad idea to sit in the same room as him. Let him relax and eat in peace. Then over time try being in the same room as him, then progress to hand-feeding.

I tend not to feed my dogs in bowls - they're fed in treat dispensers, and when I think about it, my girls still choose to have their dinners at least 3 or 4 feet away from me, and they're fed in separate rooms.
 
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In the first instance, yes, I do think it would be a bad idea to sit in the same room as him. Let him relax and eat in peace. Then over time try being in the same room as him, then progress to hand-feeding.

I tend not to feed my dogs in bowls - they're fed in treat dispensers, and when I think about it, my girls still choose to have their dinners at least 3 or 4 feet away from me, and they're fed in separate rooms.
Ok, yeah that makes sense. Thank you for pointing that out
 

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He unfortunately today was not happy to see me in his crate. He eyed me quite extensively, with a low growl. He’s very protective of his crate, and his personality almost changes entirely once he is out. The bite was very extensive and pretty deep, although I needed no stitches. He unfortunately wasn’t taught bite inhibition as even during play, he uses his mouth quite hard at times.

I do hope I can work with him and turn things around. I don’t want to give up on a dog that I wanted to rescue from a potentially negative outcome to begin with. I will take that advice and take it slowly and leave him in peace. He has grown up around cats, but it’s also concerning if a cat comes close while he is eating what could happen. I am certainly not the right home for him in the long term, but I’m willing to try what I can (safely of course) to help him if he has potential to be a pet for someone. Full honesty would be provided in the event that he was considered for adoption. I would always inform a rescue or adopter of his history of biting, resource guarding/food aggression. Unfortunately it’s a fact that not every dog is adoptable, and not everyone will be willing to take on a dog that has had problematic issues in the past. My current pit was returned many times prior to finding me because he is so large and had some food aggression issues. That has been overcome for many years now, but it was an intense and drawn out process for him.

This dog is so good looking and I would love to see him in a home someday. I’m willing to try, but I’m concerned at the same time because of his ongoing issues that seem to arise at confusing moments, like this morning. He does seem to like men quite a bit more than women, but that’s also no excuse for the growling simply when I come around, despite being the one primarily working with him and feeding him on a daily basis. It’s a tough spot to be in. I will absolutely take it slowly and feel out the situation before moving forward. I do have some time to determine whether he will be adoptable or if I have to find another Avenue. Thank you so much for the clarification and advice!
 

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He unfortunately today was not happy to see me in his crate. He eyed me quite extensively, with a low growl. He’s very protective of his crate, and his personality almost changes entirely once he is out. The bite was very extensive and pretty deep, although I needed no stitches. He unfortunately wasn’t taught bite inhibition as even during play, he uses his mouth quite hard at times.

I do hope I can work with him and turn things around. I don’t want to give up on a dog that I wanted to rescue from a potentially negative outcome to begin with. I will take that advice and take it slowly and leave him in peace. He has grown up around cats, but it’s also concerning if a cat comes close while he is eating what could happen. I am certainly not the right home for him in the long term, but I’m willing to try what I can (safely of course) to help him if he has potential to be a pet for someone. Full honesty would be provided in the event that he was considered for adoption. I would always inform a rescue or adopter of his history of biting, resource guarding/food aggression. Unfortunately it’s a fact that not every dog is adoptable, and not everyone will be willing to take on a dog that has had problematic issues in the past. My current pit was returned many times prior to finding me because he is so large and had some food aggression issues. That has been overcome for many years now, but it was an intense and drawn out process for him.

This dog is so good looking and I would love to see him in a home someday. I’m willing to try, but I’m concerned at the same time because of his ongoing issues that seem to arise at confusing moments, like this morning. He does seem to like men quite a bit more than women, but that’s also no excuse for the growling simply when I come around, despite being the one primarily working with him and feeding him on a daily basis. It’s a tough spot to be in. I will absolutely take it slowly and feel out the situation before moving forward. I do have some time to determine whether he will be adoptable or if I have to find another Avenue. Thank you so much for the clarification and advice!
Is it at all possible that he's seeing some sort of nearly imperceptible and subconscious defensive element in your posture? Or has it always been this way? Just curious
 

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Is it at all possible that he's seeing some sort of nearly imperceptible and subconscious defensive element in your posture? Or has it always been this way? Just curious
That’s a good question. It is possible that he is sensing something different about me, although I’m not frightened of him and I try to make him feel as calm as I can. He’s very high energy. He hasn’t really done that before. Usually just stares and whines for me to let him out quicker. When he was allowed out, he was just fine. He may be feeling anxious and trying to establish himself in the “pack” if you will? He has the tendency to look “guilty” after incidents like that, and will give paw and try to give affection afterward. He seems so confused. I feel for him. The transition process can’t be easy, and I can’t say whether he got much interaction as his former home. I’ve given him treats through the door to his crate and he was fine and gentle, with no issues whatsoever.
 

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He has the tendency to look “guilty” after incidents like that, and will give paw
The wide eyes, flat ears, head position that look like guilt, and the paw, are actually appeasement signals. So it isn't as much about expressing a feeling about something he has done, it is about trying to placate you as he is anticipating something he thinks you are going to do.

You know this dog has serious resource guarding tendencies. Yet -
He’s very protective of his crate
I’ve given him treats through the door to his crate
Why would you do that? This is a dog that needs to feel a lot more secure than he does at the moment, by giving him treats it's like you are forcing him to allow you close to his crate. He is nowhere near ready yet to have you that close to it, but he can't do anything to prevent you. So that's going to make him feel even more uncomfortable.

This dog sounds like he needs a lot more space to start relaxing around what he sees as ”his”.

Please have a read of the resource guarding pages here. Resource Guarding, causes, prevention and modification

The Jean Donaldson book ”Mine” mentioned there is also worth getting.
 

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The wide eyes, flat ears, head position that look like guilt, and the paw, are actually appeasement signals. So it isn't as much about expressing a feeling about something he has done, it is about trying to placate you as he is anticipating something he thinks you are going to do.

You know this dog has serious resource guarding tendencies. Yet -


Why would you do that? This is a dog that needs to feel a lot more secure than he does at the moment, by giving him treats it's like you are forcing him to allow you close to his crate. He is nowhere near ready yet to have you that close to it, but he can't do anything to prevent you. So that's going to make him feel even more uncomfortable.

This dog sounds like he needs a lot more space to start relaxing around what he sees as ”his”.

Please have a read of the resource guarding pages here. Resource Guarding, causes, prevention and modification

The Jean Donaldson book ”Mine” mentioned there is also worth getting.
I should have clarified that me giving him the treats through the door to his crate were before I was aware of any of these issues. He displayed no signs of this for the first day or two that we had him. At that point, he was simply my sisters dog that I was taking in and had interacted with a few times before with no problems. I wouldn’t take that step now, knowing how uncomfortable he feels, and knowing the work it is going to take to try to solve the issues he has.

I don’t force him to allow me near the crate. If he is displeased with me approaching, I back off and give him space. I will check out the book. Thank you!
 
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