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You definitely need to find a force-free behaviorist and take that dog to the vet.

A vet visit is necessary because health can absolutely affect behavior. He should have a full blood panel done, including thyroid. Whacky hormone levels can cause aggressive and unpredictable behaviors. Another one is pain. Being a great dane, if he isn't from health tested lines, there's a good chance that he's already suffering from chronic joint pain. It's very common in danes. Even in well bred danes, they can develop arthritis early because they're just so darn heavy. Danes also age more quickly, so he should be checked for blindness and deafness. If he's becoming blind or deaf, then he will be easier to spook, and that may contribute to some aggressive behavior.

If he's overweight, that can exacerbate the issue too. I would strongly encourage you get the weight off him by reducing feed and trying to take him on walks. It may also be a good idea to change foods too. Not sure what you're feeding now, but a good quality kibble can help his over-all health, and thus his behavior.

Once his health checks out and you get him on whatever pain medications or other medications or supplements he may need, you can focus on training. You can definitely train and modify behavior in an older dog. A good behaviorist can help you find triggers...Reasons the dog is biting. Without seeing the situations, it's hard for any body here to suggest why the dog bit. The only thing I can say on something that stood out to me is that punishing or scolding a dog for growling or biting by scolding it is a huge no-no and can make things worse.

Think of growls and lifted lips as the dog trying to communicate, rather than making a threat, or being "bad". Dogs naturally TELL us when they're feeling uncomfortable. Most do not actually WANT to bite a person. But they all have different thresholds and we have to recognize and acknowledge those warning behaviors. If you tell the dog it's not allowed and suppress those behaviors, it'll go right to a bite. And once it happens once, it'll happen again and again because the dog learns that it has to bite to communicate and tell somebody to "back off". You grabbing the collar should not have elicited a bite. But if the dog has, for example, been punished by having somebody grab or jerk it's collar, then it could have been a defensive reaction. It's not your fault, but it's not his either.

I'm not sure how your BF raised this dog, but if he raised it in a way that involved a lot of punishment and not allowing the dog to express itself, and did little actual training with rewards to show the dog how to behave, then this biting could be the result. It IS fixable. But you really have to have a behaviorist. That's not an option. You need a professional to show you how to read the dogs behaviors, and reward him for showing warning signs, and show him that you ARE listening now.

Ultimately, I think if you want this fixed without sacrificing the relationship (at least outright), you might have to be willing to take responsibility for the dog. You know your BF is a bad pet owner. He's probably not going to change no matter what you say. He's already made excuses for not wanting take action, and has blamed you for the dogs behavior. The state threatened to put the dog down for being dangerous, and still, he's done nothing. I know a lot of people who's dogs have bitten. They care enough that they have gone through hell and high waters taking every measure possible to avoid and prevent another bite, even without the government threatening to euthanize.

So you'll have to really think long and hard about what you want to do here, knowing that he's not going to do it himself. You may even have to argue with him on letting YOU do it. A biting dane is just not acceptable. That's a big dog that can do a lot of damage.

Here's a few resources to maybe help you out.

On growling:

On recognizing behaviors that may express discomfort or fright, that may be precursors to a bite:

On the effects punishment based training:

General training info:

Force-free based training web-sites and blogs:

Finding a behaviorist:

Muzzle training: The Muzzle Up! Project | Keeping dogs and their humans happy and safe
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