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My girlfriend and I have been together for almost 3 and a half years. She has recently adopted a dog who was abused as a puppy. He absolutely adores her and follows her everywhere she goes. He has separation anxiety when she is not there and even when I am there he freaks out when she leaves. I do not live with her and visit at least two to three days a week. When she is there he is very friendly with me and will listen to me and does not growl. When she is not there or just not in the room he becomes aggressive. He also does not respect me at all and will not listen to me when she is not around.
An example would be I was playing with him and was trying to rub his stomach where he then got extremely aggressive and started growling and snarling at me. I went to try and hold on to his harness to put him in his box (cage), which we do whenever he becomes aggressive, and he bit me hard enough to break the skin and bend my ring which was on my finger.

I love the dog, he's a mutt who is almost 2 years old, but he makes me extremely nervous and sometimes I am actually scared for my safety when we are alone.

If anyone has any advice please respond. I want to assert myself as the Beta because my girlfriend will always be the Alpha.

Thanks for the help!
 

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Stop punishing him for aggression, firstly. Don't throw him in a cage when he tells you he's scared. He is likely displaying fear as he was beaten in the past and you probably fit the general stereotype he has for people that will beat him. It sounds like this is fear based. If he is biting you when you rub his belly stop touching his belly.

You are not the beta, your girlfriend is not the alpha. Dominance based training is outdated and not a way that dogs communicate with humans.

I would suggest finding a behaviorist in your area as aggression is best handled one on one. A positive only trainer that doesn't practice dominance theory is INCREDIBLY important moving forward
 

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I agree with Cos, it does sound fear based. Work on it that he associate you with good things happening. Like if he is play driven and loves his ball, play allot of ball with him. if he is food driven give him high value treats when he lets you rub his belly. but the touching part you will have to work up to gradually. dont just force it on him. start with rewarding him for any good behaviour towards you when you are alone. if he comes and sits close to you or let you briefly stroke him, etc. reward him. Then work up to belly rubs.
also another thing to remember, is dogs can smell our emotions. so if you are afraid of him or being alone with him or hesitant in your behaviour he feels that and acts on it. When you interact with him, you have to sound like YOU trust in what you are saying and that you trust he WILL do what you ask him to do. if he gets a glimmer of "yeah I know you are not going to listen to me anyway" in your voice and body language he guaranteed will not do what you ask him to do. I know all of this is much easier said than done. but practice and each time you will sound more confident.
All the best of luck, and do keep us up to date with the progress!
 

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If he is friendly with you when she is home I'd do training with him while she is there until he listens really well to you (make it fun 2 min sessions) then maybe go in a separate room while she's still home and he can see her train and treat there then close the door she's still at home but he can't see her train and treat there she leaves for a min you train and treat etc.
Baby steps until he's comfortable with you when she's gone if he freaks out go back a step
Positive Training helps dogs to bond with you it takes time don't rush it and always keep it fun
If you feel too scared to do this or feel this dog is too dangerous then yes def call a professional
I am not a professional at all just 2 rescues that needed some help when I first got them this worked well for them



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Sounds like the dog has a strong bond with your partner and trusts her a lot. Dogs are superstitious, if his previous abusive owner was male it'll be harder to gain trust than your partner.

Since you don't live there the dog won't have had the exposure to you to work out exactly where his limits with you are. Those limits will be different with you vs other family members because dogs are able to identify different people, it's kind of like a social hierarchy or pack but neither of those include dominance unless you are clashing over resources like food. Patricia Macconnell describes this and the designations alpha, beta and omega in her excellent book "The Other Side of The Leash" it's well worth a read.

I'd leave off the rough play for a while and maybe start taking an active role in training, that way you become both an awesome source of food and someone to look to for direction. The two things that come to mind are engagement training and crate training.

Engagement training can be really great because you are rewarding the dog for paying attention, I started by rewarding my pup every time she looked at me, by throwing boiled chicken or a ball or just running with her.

Crate training can also be fun Keeping the Holiday Peace: How to Crate Train Your Dog | Karen Pryor Clicker Training
 

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Sounds to me like the dog needs to be socialized... Definitely sounds like the dog has bonded with her. The dog owns her, that's not a healthy relationship.

Do you and your gf walk the dog? Can you take the dog for a walk? If you want respect from a dog, be respectful. You want trust, be trustworthy. Don't try to lie to a dog, they will see right through you - especially when they know you're afraid.

Don't use the kennel as a punishment.
 

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You should absolutely be seeking the help of a behaviorist and/or trainer that uses positive techniques.

The crate should never be used as punishment. You also shouldn't be punishing a growl. The dog is warning you that he is uncomfortable with what is happening. If you start punishing the growl, he may just bite with no warning.

I think every dog can benefit from both physical and mental stimulation so walks and training are good. But I really think that your first step needs to be finding a qualified professional to help the 3 of you along.
 

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My girlfriend and I have been together for almost 3 and a half years. She has recently adopted a dog who was abused as a puppy. He absolutely adores her and follows her everywhere she goes. He has separation anxiety when she is not there and even when I am there he freaks out when she leaves. I do not live with her and visit at least two to three days a week. When she is there he is very friendly with me and will listen to me and does not growl. When she is not there or just not in the room he becomes aggressive. He also does not respect me at all and will not listen to me when she is not around.
An example would be I was playing with him and was trying to rub his stomach where he then got extremely aggressive and started growling and snarling at me. I went to try and hold on to his harness to put him in his box (cage), which we do whenever he becomes aggressive, and he bit me hard enough to break the skin and bend my ring which was on my finger.

I love the dog, he's a mutt who is almost 2 years old, but he makes me extremely nervous and sometimes I am actually scared for my safety when we are alone.

If anyone has any advice please respond. I want to assert myself as the Beta because my girlfriend will always be the Alpha.

Thanks for the help!

First it's not a matter of respect, like the others have said it's likely fear based. He trust your girlfriend so when she's around he feels more secure, but when she's gone he's back to being afraid of you. There's no need to be Beta or Alpha, but every need to gain his trust. To do that respect how he feels, be the giver or doer of things he loves and enjoys, and do as little as possible that makes him afraid.

How was he acting before you tried to rub his stomach? Was he licking his lips, flicking his tongue, trying to get away or keeping his head turned away from you, basically acting like he was not enjoying himself? My boy only enjoys belly rubs from people he trust, BUT he'll go belly up to people he knows but does not yet fully trust. He's not asking for them to pet his belly, that's the last thing he wants, he's saying I'm a bit afraid of you, please don't hurt me. When he goes belly up like that his little face looks fearful, he's tongue flicking and whale eyed, his body is stiff and curved, and his tail is tucked, yet even with all of that people still think that he wants a belly rub and I have to tell them not to.

If he's like my boy and you pet him when he was that fearful he might have felt trapped (like you pinned him) and so came up snarling and growling since you didn't know that he didn't want to be pet. When you went to grab his harness he knew that something bad was likely to happen so he started fighting. Basically all of that will erode any trust he has in you.

Be gentle with him. When he growls simply back up and give him space, while trying to figure out why he felt upset enough to growl so that you can work on it. Like with grabbing his harness if he always growls when you go to grab it then try making grabbing it the precursor for something fun happening. If he loves treats then grab the harness and give him a treat, or you can swap treats for toys. Go at his speed though, you might need to start with simply touching the harness and giving the treat or toy and work you way up to actually grabbing the harness.
 
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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you all for taking the time to reply to my problem.

I should start off by stating I am a female. When it was said that he might be fearful of the general stereotype I assume you mean a male, which I am not.

For the most part I am the one that gives Lucas his treats, I actually spoil him with treats and try to give him some whenever I can. Walking with him, playing, listening to me, and just because.

I do train with them, he goes to training classes but since I am roughly 30 minutes away I cannot go with them. I do have my girlfriend teach me what they have learned so I can go over it with Lucas.

He is socialized for the most part, as stated above he takes training classes where he is surrounded by other dogs and humans. Also he has been to my house where I have 2 dogs and a cat. He also interacts with humans and animals almost every day since she lives in an apartment complex.

I usually arrive to my girlfriend's apartment before she is off work so I take him for a walk right when I get there. I almost always go with them when walking and every once in a while will walk him while my girlfriend is with us.

When he does seem upset or scared I always back away or try to give him space. I am a Social Worker and work with those who have been abused so I understand, for the most part, what they need. Dogs are no different. If things get to the point where I am uncomfortable my girlfriend with take care of the situation.

When I was rubbing his stomach he was really happy, no signs of licking his lips, flicking his tongue, or trying to get away. He was actually looking right at me while I was rubbing it.

I have never hurt him in any way and am always giving him treats and pets when they're wanted. When we play it is not rough, I usually throw his bone for him.

Again thank you all for you advice. I will read The Other Side of the Leash and will be looking at that article as soon as I am done posting.

As for the crate as punishment that is not my decision. Also his trainer has stated it is the best way for him to understand what he is doing is wrong since he has had situations where he has nipped at children and other animals.
 

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I would suggest getting a different trainer.

Stereotypes can be a number of things for dogs. They can be triggered by hair color, clothing style, glasses, hats, even a certain smell. Looking you in the eye while you pet him isn't always a good thing, staring at you can be a sign he is going to bite. Sometimes dogs are difficult to read!

It's good that you know when to back off! I also want to apologize for the assumption that you were male if I gave any of that at all - silly me I should know better having had girlfriends myself!

It sounds like you're doing what you can, it may just be an issue of settling in and becoming used to being handled and around so many different people and animals. You said he's around other people and animals all day and it sounds like he goes back and forth from houses at times. Perhaps staying in one calm environment would benefit him? He could just be very nervous and stressed out.

Definitely stop punishing for aggression though, and find a different trainer if possible. Are there any other methods they use that may be questionable to your knowledge? Do they practice the "CHHH" noise and poking the dog with your fingers? Do they encourage rolling the dog or pinning the dog in its side?

Sadly with trainers that use punishment methods it's often not just one thing but many things that do more harm than good to the dog.
 

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That is true with stereotypes and will keep that in mind with the eye contact.

No need to worry, it happens :)

He is usually in the apartment alone for most of the day since my girlfriend works and he does not travel very often but you are right he could be stressed and maybe some diffusers would be good to try and calm him.

The trainer does not use any of those methods above and they do not encourage pinning the dog.

I will show her this thread and let her know, thanks cos!
 
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