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Attacking Golden Retriever!

September 24th, 2005, 02:23 PM
I am new here. Very nice site. I went through the archives and didn't see a problem just like mine.

The problem is that my 2 year old Golden Retriever attacks people. We have had him since he was six weeks old and he has never been abused. We have rescued and owned many dogs and cats over the years. My wife is on the board of the local no-kill shelter.

Sonny is a very bright dog: He has only wet in the house twice that I know of and has never pooped. He learned to follow Cosmo, our Yorkie, outside and then quickly learned to ring a bell to go out.

The problem is that we can be petting him and for no reason at all he will attack our hand. I keep saying attack because I'm not talking about nipping here-I'm talking about teeth bared, snarling, rip your arm off biting. Then, it's over as soon as it starts and Sonny knows he's done something wrong and is immediately trying to lick your hand and get you to pet him.

When he does this he will usually go off in a corner away from people and lay down. It's not due to rubbing a specific sore spot because he does it no matter where you pet him. You may pet him in the same manner for several minutes and he'll suddenly turn on you.

At first, it only happened when he was sleeping but now he doesn't have to be asleep. In the last twenty four hours he has bitten both of my children, they're 25 and 21 years old so they're not kids aggravating him, and my wife. Hasn't gotten me yet but I work out of town and have only been home a few hours.

He loves us and always wants to be with us. He is a great dog except for this major problem. He loves kids but we are afraid to allow him around them for fear that he may turn on them. It's like he has some sort of a brain defect because I know he would never bite us normally.

Took him to the vet and he just basically didn't believe that a Golden could act like that and just told us he'd probably get over it. It's getting worse.

Sorry to be so long winded but we're at our wit's end and are very afraid of what the solution to this is going to be. We can't allow him to seriously hurt somebody. He has taken chunks of skin off of us and drawn blood numerous times. Thank goodness he always has immediately realized he's doing something wrong and stops but what if someday he doesn't back off.

I guess I was mostly wondering if anyone had seen this behavior before and if there was a treatment possible. Personally, I feel it's a mental problem and probably can't be trained out of him. Thanks for your time, Hutch

Lucky Rescue
September 24th, 2005, 02:57 PM
Took him to the vet and he just basically didn't believe that a Golden could act like that and just told us he'd probably get over it.

That is very irresponsible advice. This is a dangerous dog and it sounds like the problem is escalating.

He has taken chunks of skin off of us and drawn blood numerous times.
The problem could be genetic, neurological - no way of telling without extensive testing. This dog is a huge liability to you and could cost you everything you own not to mention the guilt and remorse you would suffer should he seriously injure a child.

Personally, I would have all testing done just to satisfy myself that there is no physical cause - thyroid problems for example. I would never keep a dog like this.

I know this must be terribly distressing to you and I"m sorry.:(

September 24th, 2005, 03:17 PM
I actually saw a case like this on Animal ER a while ago where the dog had knocked his head as a puppy and since then had been more and more aggressive. They did a spinal tap which was clear, along with other tests (that I don't remember exactly), and everything was clear. They put him down because they figured it was a neurological disorder that could not be fixed...

Some dogs, just like some people, just are not genetically "well". It's not your fault. You just have to decide what is safest for you and for everybody who might come into contact with your doggy. :( It's a very very hard decision to make. Good luck.

September 25th, 2005, 04:38 PM
Hiya Hutch, first off, I'm so sorry to hear about that, however I knew of a Golden (my neighbor's dog) that did the same thing. She had severe skin issues that led her to be sensitive across all parts of her body (no place specific) and she lashed out irrationally against anyone who touched her, regardless of whether she initiated contact or not. The vet's advice scares me, just because they haven't *seen* behaviour doesn't mean it doesn't exist and CERTAINLY doesn't mean you should just "get over it". If there's another vet in that office, get their opinion, have skin scrapes done, and most importantly, have them do a CAT scan or xray of the brain - much as it hurts me to say it, something might show there. Best of luck and please keep us posted on your situation.

hugs and pets :)

September 25th, 2005, 05:07 PM
What kind of decisions does your dog make for himself in the household? What training have you done with this dog? Did your vet bother to examine the dog for any problems like thyroid, skin? In my area there are many goldens with behaviour issues. Too many BYBs.
It is a good idea to have your dog examined by a vet for anything that could cause aggression. If that is clear go see a trainer that deals in aggression and have them evaluate your dog.
Just a couple more questions. How much exercise does your dog get? How much socializing experiences does your dog get regularly? What does members of your family do when he bites them? Has he bit any non family members?
The first problem I noticed was the age of your dog when you got him. Do you know the parents or was he a rescue?

September 25th, 2005, 06:14 PM
I am facing a problem right now with one of my goldens. She is 5 years old and her aggression has been getting progressively more frequent. Her aggression is different from your guys but nevertheless she is aggressive.
I think it might be a good idea to have his thyroid checked. Aggression is a symptom of an unbalanced thyroid. Medication regulates the thyroid and may solve your problem. His problem could also be behavioral or neurological. He could be having seizures. I think it might be a good idea to find a new open minded vet.

September 25th, 2005, 06:37 PM
I second that. If your vet is stuck on thinking that goldens are not agressive and that it will just go away may not do a complete check to eliminate health causes for the aggression.

October 2nd, 2005, 08:28 PM
Thanks for all your replies. Sorry to have been out of touch. We had an unexpected death in the family and it kind of took me out of circulation for a while.
I am going to try another vet to see what he says. We want to rule out all physical causes before we do anything drastic.
My wife met both of Sonny's parents and they seemed like normal Goldens. Sonny doesn't get as much exercise as he should. I work out of town and can only exercise him on weekends. My wife is home in the evenings but doesn't exercise him much. He hasn't bitten anyone outside the family but he's also rarely around anybody but us. Thanks, Hutch

October 2nd, 2005, 11:45 PM
Lack of socializing could possibly be your problem. Fear of the unknown. I see this far more often than I would like. Once your dog has been cleared of possible medical problems I would seek out a trainer in your area that deals in aggression issues. Don't find an aversive trainer to deal with fear. I would also guess that there is another problem if your dog is biting family members. What were the circumstances behind these incidents.

October 3rd, 2005, 10:20 AM
Stacey, every time Sonny has bitten someone it is when they were petting him. He can be laying right next to you and you can pet him for a few seconds, or minutes, and he's doing the eye rolling deal because he loves it so much and the next second he's attacking, then he's making up trying to get you to pet him again. It's just like an attack switch is going on and off in his head. It has never happened at any other time. You have to be touching him. Also, it's not any particular place that you have to be touching him. The only place I've been able to pet him all the time and never get a reaction is right above the tail. He loves that a lot. Also, this doesn't happen every time we pet him but it is getting more frequent. If he was a rescue I might think maybe he was abused but there's no way this guy has ever been abused--Not around my house! Hutch

Lucky Rescue
October 3rd, 2005, 10:33 AM
I"m sorry for the death in the family. You are dealing with a lot.:(

Your dog could be "wired wrong", maybe genetic problems due to bad breeding or neurological probs.

If you are going to get him checked out, in the meantime either keep him away from everyone, or muzzle him. This kind of unpredictable aggression is very dangerous and he already has a history of serious biting.

October 3rd, 2005, 10:35 AM
Well get him checked out to make sure he is physically ok before you seek out a trainer. Hopefully it is something that can be corrected.
Do you remember the details from the first time this happened. Does he do it with everyone in the family?

October 3rd, 2005, 09:56 PM
You definately have a dangerous dog on your hands.No doubt about that.

We can't allow him to seriously hurt somebody.

And this isn't seriously hurting someone?

He has taken chunks of skin off of us and drawn blood numerous times.

You have had him since he was 6 weeks old.This was a bit to young for him to be taken away from his mom.How much socializing did you do with him?

My wife met both of Sonny's parents and they seemed like normal Goldens.

To be honest,that doesn't really mean much.The parents could have been "behaving" at the time she was there.

Sonny doesn't get as much exercise as he should. I work out of town and can only exercise him on weekends. My wife is home in the evenings but doesn't exercise him much.

Sorry to say,but this just isn't fair for Sonny.He should be exercised everyday.

You need to have him assest by your vet.Have every test done on him.And what I mean is blood,urine,MRI,Xrays,you name it.Something is definately wrong.And you need to find out what is wrong.Please make an appt with the vet asap.He has bitten one to many times.And the next time it could be worse.And I am sure you don't want that.

Also,when did he start all this?