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First post! I'm so thankful that I have found this website because I really need help. My dog, Buddy, has been showing more and more aggression lately. He is neutered, mixed breed (we think he is an irish setter mix), and about 10 years old. He's very loving towards my family (usually) but my mom tends to baby him sometimes. He is not really destructive but sometimes he gets riled up and my mom plays with him and she'll get a cardboard box and tear it up with him. Everyone gives him scraps from the table by hand and I try to put anything I give him in his bowl so I try to form a denomination between my food and his food, but alas.

Last night I had a get together with my friends before my sister goes to college, and my dog bit my friend in the hand (and broke the skin). :( He has snapped at people before but I'm fed up with my mom just saying "all dogs do that" or "it could be anyone.." He growls a lot at guests. Certain guests who come over a lot he is usually okay with, unless their is food around. He will circle around the dining table and constantly growls and growls, even around other places in the house. He'll sulk in the room and walk around and growl, and then sit right on my foot while growling. We never hit my dog but I can't help but shove him when he does this. It makes me and my friends VERY uncomfortable and I really don't want this to keep up. Whenever my mom and I are prepping food and my mom is throwing scraps at him, he will become very aggressive towards me--growling and sometimes barking. There have been other instances with other people where people have picked up food off the ground near him and he has snapped at them. Even me, sometimes he growls and growls at me for no reason when I'm in the room or the next. One time I tried to pet him while he was asleep and he bit my hand (didn't break the skin). Sometimes even when there isn't food around, he just lurks around like a shark and growls at all of my friends and then tries to sit right near me.

But wait--there's more!!

My dog is also VERY protective of our house. Whenever ANYONE comes to the door, he flips out. Makes a whole scene and howls and barks. It's really quite startling at times. Even when someone just makes a noise upstairs, he barks for a good minute or two, the loudness slowly diminishing until it turns into a growl. It's even worse with another dog or a cat across the street and let's not forget....the mailman. I'm pretty sure this is his main event of the day. He runs up and down the stairs, jumps up to the radiator to bark through the window, knocks off knicknacks on said radiator, folds up the carpet in the foyer from jumping around, back hair turns up, and barking like crazy (and loud). He has never bitten the mailman but a couple of times he has ran up to him with his teeth out and almost gotten sprayed by the postman.

He also has bad separation anxiety from my mom. Whenever my parents go out to smoke on the porch, he cries, paces frantically, lays right up against the door until they come back.

I didn't think this was out of the ordinary but it's been becoming more frequent and it's just plain embarrassing and scary around my friends.

What can we do? :confused::confused::confused:
 

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He is "resource guarding". Here is a sticky about it. Read that for a start.
He also sounds quite fearful in and insecure.

Sounds like a pretty severe case of RG and very much about food.
I'd consider hiring a behaviorist (not a run of the mill trainer) to help you.

This is not going to be easy to fix, starting with the level of understanding it seems your family has about dogs and dog behavior.
There is a lot going on in the family dynamics that are making this a very complex problem. Tossing scraps, having him in the room when people eat, shoving, and what not are all problematic. You guys need a full on family counseling by a qualified behaviorist to sort this out. There will be no quick fixes. (which is probably why you are not getting a lot of eager replies...)
 

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I agree with Tess, most of what is going on is resource guarding. A lot of dogs do resource guard to a certain extent. They may guard a really yummy bone, or some very yummy food. Some guard beds or couches, and others guard favorite toys or people. Your dog sounds like he's pretty severe with it.

The good news is that it's usually fixable, or at the least you can lessen and control it so that it's not a huge problem. The bad news is that in order to do that everyone in the house has to be in agreement with how the dog is treated. So if you are the only one who is trying to correct the behavior while everyone else is tossing the dog food while it's circling the table and growling, what you are doing is not going to work very well since everyone else is reinforcing the behavior.

If you can talk your parents into hiring a behaviorist it'd be great. The behaviorist can teach all of y'all the best way to handle what's going on and give y'all an idea about why he's behaving the way he is.

Check out the links that Tess provided, they should help you start to help your boy.
 

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I think that's beyond resource guarding, to total lack of general social skills and anxiety. That some of the key is "...all dogs do that." I fully agree with Rain that getting the people to change will be the hardest part but key to getting any success here. You need somebody from the outside to start pushing for changes.
 
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