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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, I have a 6 year old border collie. He is extremely aggressive and I’m tired of being scared and anxious every single day. I am at the end of my rope. We’ve had him since he was 8 weeks old. He was pretty normal at first, but he had some trouble with resource guarding early on. He would guard the couch and his food. We had an animal trainer come to our house and help fix the problem. He stopped with the couch, but he still growls whenever we go near his food and nothing has changed that. He has so many problems, I don’t even know where to start. He did attend obedience school and went to doggy day care when he was younger. Now I would never take him to either, I am completely afraid to take him anywhere. He has bitten me, my mom, my dad and my sisters. He has never bitten anyone outside of us, although he has tried to bite the vet. He will not let me brush him, bathe him, he will let me pet him and rub his belly but he will sometimes out of nowhere snap and growl. Certain words and phrases he knows and he will growl and show his teeth. It is bizarre and terrifying. He has never been abused, he has been treated like a king. I don’t know how I can live like this anymore. I’m honestly afraid every day. He goes to the vet every year to get his shots, but it is an ordeal. I can’t even go, my mom takes him because my anxiety is so high. I’m afraid he is going to hurt everyone there. The unbearable thing about it all is that he is beautiful and can be very sweet and loving. But it’s like Jekyll and Hyde. I don’t think I can take another 10 years of living like this. It has caused me to become depressed and reclusive. I know it could possibly be a health problem, maybe an injury to his leg like a sprain that never healed. But I am terrified to take him anywhere to see if it is a problem. He won’t let anyone look or touch him without getting violent. I’m terrified, I feel guilt and embarrassment and sadness and I don’t know what to do. Maybe I should have done this or that, but I’ve tried so hard to adjust my life and work around his behavior, I haven’t travelled in 5 years because I can’t leave him with anyone else or leave without thinking about him constantly. Does anyone have any suggestions about how I would ever get him to be checked out health wise? Can they put him under while being evaluated, because he honestly would never be able to be checked out without being tranquillized or something. I think the stress and anxiety of the entire situation is going to kill me.
 

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Well vets are used to dealing with aggressive or scared dogs and a muzzle goes a long way to preventing biting.

I think if you told the vet what you've just told us they would help you get him in and fully checked over.

If you go to a behaviourist make sure the methods they use are based on reward not punishment or else you could make the problem worse...
 

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If your dog has bitten and drawn blood, your first port of call should be a vet visit, including a thyroid check. This is especially true if the aggression is sudden and out of character. After that, you need a qualified, reputable behaviourist who uses updated, positive reinforcement based methods. We may be able to advise methods before the situation escalates to a dog bite but not after; or suggest management strategies in the interim - but as a pre-cursor, not an alternative, to a behaviourist's assessment.

We take this policy because of the seriousness of the matter. If the dog bites another person, you could find yourself civily and/or legally responsible. We simply cannot see the events surrounding the bite. We're not there, we are unable to intervene just before a bite happens, and as such, it would be the height of irresponsibility for members to attempt to advise you on ways to deal with such a serious issue on your own. Any posts advising you on ways to manage the situation yourself will be subject to moderation, including deletion.
 

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That's a lot you've been carrying for a long time.

To add to the above posts:
1. He can be sedated for a blood draw. You might be able to get a mild sedative from the office to give to him before an appointment. If the vet is unwilling, explain in depth and bluntly. If the vet is not taking your concerns seriously, branch out to other offices.
2. Is there a chance to also schedule these vet visits at slow times, like a weekday right at opening, or maybe ask if you (your mom) can sneak in a bit before opening?Right before closing? Make sure to share your reasons and concerns.
3. You mentioned Jekyll and Hyde, which in my experience, trends towards a medical cause for aggression. I urge you to have a full thyroid panel done. If that is inconclusive, keep digging, but follow up with the potential for epilepsy with your vet. Bcs can be prone to it, and it can sometimes result in aggressive behavior. It is also a prognosis by elimination more often than not.
4. Do not be afraid to shop around for a second opinion or new vet. I already said this, but I want to stress this. If anything, I'd even urge you to introduce yourself to the new vet office on the phone with something like this, "Hi so-and-so. I'm making this appointment because I need a second opinion about finding a diagnosis for medically caused aggression. Do you maybe have a referral if you think someone has more experience?"
5. Can the dog be left alone for short periods of time? You sound in desperate and dire need of self-care. Even something as simple as a cup of coffee outside and alone.

Do you have more questions? More experiences you need/want to share? We're not miracle workers or oracles, but we do usually want to help.
 

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If your dog has bitten and drawn blood, your first port of call should be a vet visit, including a thyroid check. This is especially true if the aggression is sudden and out of character. After that, you need a qualified, reputable behaviourist who uses updated, positive reinforcement based methods. .
I second this.
VET first.
You cannot deal with this yourself, and it is a very serious situation.
Get professional help.

Interview any behaviorist you think about hiring. Ask blunt questions: What would you do if the dog tries to bite you? What do you see as being the motivation for the dog biting?
Make sure the trainer/behaviorist does not go into "alpha dog" theories, as those are very outdated and never were true to begin with.
Make sure the the answers do not include the use of a choke collar, prong collar, shock collar of any kind, punishment, manual manipulation of the dog, raising of voice, saying NO, or any other kind of aversive approach, because all of these will only make it worse. This dog does not need correction; he needs to be shown the way to a better way of living, and that cannot be done by force.

I wish you the very best of luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
He can be left alone for hours (although this past year we've hardly been out), he behaves himself very well. He has full run of the house when we are gone. We have two cats, one he barely bothers with but one he is obsessed with and watches for her at the basement stairs, he seems to want to herd her, she is good at avoiding him and it isn't much of an issue to us. But the aggression has been going on for a long time, and I know it should have been dealt with sooner. I have severe anxiety, and I am terrified to take him to get check out. I know I'm not the only one in the world that has a dog with issues, but it feels like that. I feel alone and I feel like my situation is like no one else and no one understands. All these things that are suggested are easier said than done. He barely lets the vet give him his shots, (and we always ask for the last appointment of the night as well) how am I supposed to feel like I can get him in for all this other stuff? And the muzzle is tricky because we hardly can ever get it on him and he is pretty much a pro at getting it off even when it's super tight. I just feel like I'm going to explode with stress over this.
 

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One step at a time.

First the vet - speak to them, as someone else said they are accustomed to difficult dogs. Or maybe you can get some oral meds, to take the edge off before you go.

Then we can try to help you find a behaviourist.

As you said, there,are years of this ahead potentially, think how much easier your lives will be if you can make some changes.
 

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Please take the time to get help for your anxiety also. You need to take care of your own issues before you can take on everything else. Talk to your doctor.
 
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He can be left alone for hours (although this past year we've hardly been out), he behaves himself very well. He has full run of the house when we are gone. We have two cats, one he barely bothers with but one he is obsessed with and watches for her at the basement stairs, he seems to want to herd her, she is good at avoiding him and it isn't much of an issue to us. But the aggression has been going on for a long time, and I know it should have been dealt with sooner. I have severe anxiety, and I am terrified to take him to get check out. I know I'm not the only one in the world that has a dog with issues, but it feels like that. I feel alone and I feel like my situation is like no one else and no one understands. All these things that are suggested are easier said than done. He barely lets the vet give him his shots, (and we always ask for the last appointment of the night as well) how am I supposed to feel like I can get him in for all this other stuff? And the muzzle is tricky because we hardly can ever get it on him and he is pretty much a pro at getting it off even when it's super tight. I just feel like I'm going to explode with stress over this.
Take a deep breath.
This is a situation that can be handled correctly.

Many of us do understand. Even if we have not had the same experience, we can imagine how difficult this is. You are reaching a breaking point, and I can see that your situation would do that.

So, you need to do something with this and about this. As overwhelming as it sounds, you can do it.
As stated before, vet first. If your vet doesn't want to see him, call around, explain you have a dog who may bite, and find someone who doesn't have a problem with managing that. But most vets know how to deal with that - they do it frequently.
Get someone to help you get him to the vet, someone who is not afraid to help.
Or two people.
Lure him into the car and into the vet office with treats.
Don't even try to muzzle him. too dangerous for you.

As for the behaviorist, find one who will come to your house. That would be far better in any case so that the person can see the environment and the people there.

You are not alone, and we will try to help if we can.
But you and/or people who can help you need to take these actions, however hard and challenging they may be. What is the alternative? Live like this for the rest of the dog's life? Have the dog killed? Certainly neither of those.
 

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If the vet is scared then take him to another vet. I’ve had experience of terrified vets and my late dog used to act on it. Took her to a different vet that was very confident and she was amazing with him.

Does your dog have any basic obedience training like sit, stay etc etc?

Dealing with ones own anxiety first is a must. Dogs feed off their owners energy so addressing that is very important.

Take a deep breath and try and relax around him. Easier said than done but it is imperative IMO.
 

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Only one thing to add, and that is your dog could be "picking up" on your anxiety and fear, which will make things even worse.
Dogs are very adept at sensing their owner's emotions for better or worse.
Dogs are like us in the respect that some pups are just not "wired" correctly. Some can be helped and unfortunately some cannot.
Good luck and best wishes
 
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