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My 10 year old Lhasa Apso is usually well behaved and very loving. There have been several instances though where he has been acting comfortable and friendly towards someone and then all of a sudden snaps and bites them. Over the past 5 years he has bitten friends and family of mine without any warning.
The last time it happened, was with a friend that he had know for 5+ years and had always been excited to see her and cuddle with her. One day he was playing with her and went to cuddle with her and while she was petting him, he snapped and bit her so badly that I had to take her to to the doctor and they glued the wound.
Yesterday it happened again with one of our friends. He had met him before and went up to him as if asking to for love and then snapped. The bite was really bad and we had to take our friend to the ER.
I used to take him to the dog park all the time but he had gotten more and more aggressive with other dogs and I always had a fear he would get aggressive with their owners too. So I only take him in no one else is there.
He has never snapped at me but I find myself afraid to get too close to him or to cuddle with him for too long because he has snapped at my fiancé, who is the one who adopted him when he was a puppy. He tore through his shirt, but luckily didn't get any flesh.
I am not sure what to do at this point. I have called behavioral specialist and trainers and they all have just quoted me pricing without really listening to my problem. Even with training, I will always have the fear that he could snap at any second. As much as I love my little buddy, I am concerned for his quality of life if I keep him locked up and don't give him as much love as he deserves simply because I am afraid of getting bitten.
I need straight forward but compasionate advice on what I can do for him or if it is time to put him down. This is a really hard decision for me and it breaks my heart.
 

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I would have put her down. Even if there was a physical issue (in 5 years, it should have been picked up during vet check ups anyway), a dog that sends people to the ER without any warning (growling) is just too dangerous IMO.


I'm sorry you're dealing with this, but if I was your friends, I would never be around your dog again (and really, you should never have let her stay around your friends after the first bite in the first place). But that's at least 3 or 4 instances when he's gone for blood, and it's just not safe IMO...
 

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3 or 4 times in 5 years during 5 years during close patting and contact sounds like it could be medically caused. It's also very infequent, although I'm not in any way trying to dispute the seriousness of the incidents.
I'd get a full thyroid and medical checkup first to rule out medical causes. My dog got aggressive when he had Lyme disease, the vet dismissed Lyme as a cause but he was much better after a week of doxycycline and stayed on it for a month.
Then almost two years later got a bit aggressive again when he developed hypothyroidism. A month or two of medication and he was fine again.
 

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Does your dog enjoy being cuddled?

Is there a chance there is an injury?

Have you ever tried muzzle training? Specifically gentle no force training on this one.


I'd be seeing if I had an old video of him being handled and watch his body language. If he looks totally comfortable and you can't remember anything changing I'd be leaning towards an injury.

Whatever it is I'd be gently muzzle training him and separating him from people visiting the house to satisfy my need to keep people safe.
 
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