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I've been a lurker here for about a year. It started when my husband and I adopted a basset hound from the Humane Society about 16 months ago. When we met the dog (Lamar) he started out very friendly and happy. He wagged his tail, he let us pet him, it was all very nice and friendly. Once we had him home, however, everything started to change. Lamar started to growl, he wouldn't listen to us, he wanted his own way constantly. We brought in a trainer, and he helped us immensely with Lamar. I was unhappy because I was traumatized as a little girl by a dog, and I have high anxiety when I'm around unpredictable dogs. However, my husband was now too attached to the dog, so we decided to keep Lamar.

Fast forward to the last couple of months. My husband recently got a new job (he's gone for about 12 hours every day), and I'm currently at home, but by September I will be studying at university full time. We've agreed that we simply don't have the time or resources to address Lamar's behavioural problems. Let me state that Lamar has never bitten anyone, and these days most of his aggression happens when he's been touched while he's sleeping. He refuses to cuddle with anyone (he'll growl if you touch him excessively). We believe he was abused in some way prior to being at the Humane Society (the Humane Society has no background information for the dog, either).

I'm in a difficult position because it is my duty as a responsible owner to disclose the aggression difficulties, but I know most shelters would just euthanize the dog without first getting to know him. As soon as the words "aggressive" are spoken, it's already too late. I should also mention that these days that if I'm home alone, the aggression outbursts happen only occasionally, it's when I have friends over that the dog gets moody. (Although you must never, ever touch him while he's sleeping, regardless of who's in the house).

The dog is very good when he is outside. He loves children and strangers (he gets along well with other dogs, he never chases cats). He's a very smart, wonderful adorable little dog, we just don't have the resources to address his underlying behavioural issues.

I should state that had I known he had any aggression issues, I would never have agreed to adopt him, and neither would my husband. I feel slighted by the humane society, but also very responsible for Lamar's well being, especially because I know he's a sweetheart, he was just abused and neglected.

Any advice?
 

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This is a difficult one. The problem is, just as you woudn't have adopted him if you knew about his issues, most other people wouldn't either. And of course you can't adopt him out without telling people, it's unethical and could set you up for a lawsuit if by chance he does bite someone.

To my way of thinking, there are only three possible options:

First - try to find someone who is capable of and willing to deal with his issues. Problem being, most people who truly are capable either already have a dog like that, or have BTDT and don't really feel like volunteering for it again, especially if it's a young dog. However, it's also possible that in a different environment the aggression issues will lessen or even disappear - frequently issues result from interplay between owners and dog which are not the fault of either but simply the result of a bad combination of personalities. I fostered a dog not that long ago that I was told was aggressive, while he was with me I found him to be delightful with not a hint of aggression.

Option two - find a way to make it work with him. Consult with a certified behaviorist (rather than a trainer) to work out possible solutions to better managing his issues. Since there has already been improvement there is the possibility of going even farther in his rehabilitation.

Option three - have him euthanized yourself, so that you know he has passed safely in the arms of those he loves instead of with strangers.

he wouldn't listen to us, he wanted his own way constantly.
This part is completely normal for a basset. It's also possible that the "aggression" you're seeing is not truly aggression but communication, especially since he's never bitten anyone. Which is why a certified behaviorist might be useful, as they should have the training to distinguish between real problem aggression and communication. Some trainers think that all growling/grumping is bad and needs to be stopped, when in fact it can be valuable information from the dog as to how he is feeling (scared, uncomfortable, in pain etc).
 

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Thanks for replying so quickly.

Yes, it's a very difficult situation. I thought about finding a behaviourist, but at this point we have neither the time or the money for it. Plus, I think Lamar is nervous because I'm nervous. We've both come a very long way (even right now he's sleeping peacefully beside me), but I'm worried about his progress stalling. I guess I should mention I have high functioning autism, so I get overwhelmed very easily (among other things) and going to school while trying to correct "bad" behaviour is something that I think is probably beyond my skill set.

People have suggested to me that I should put up an ad for the dog, but I feel uncomfortable doing that. I would prefer an organization or a referral from someone I trust, rather than letting a stranger decide the fate of a dog I love dearly.

We've had the dog in a kennel a couple of times. The owner said he may know of a person that could take Lamar, but he suggested we look for someone first. I've also emailed a few places to see if they have any resources or advice.

I believe most of the growls are used in order to communicate with us. However, I am also afraid that when my husband and I start a family, the dog will be in an even worse state.
 

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It wouldn't hurt to contact your nearest basset rescue, explain the situation and see if they would be willing to evaluate him. Again, most rescues, like shelters, won't take in, or at least won't adopt out, a dog with a history of aggression because of the massive liability issues, but you never know. It would help to emphasize that your nervousness is likely exacerbating the problem - as I stated earlier, in another home there may be no aggression at all. But it's something you can't know unless it's actually tried.
 

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There's a basset rescue about 2 hours away that I contacted. They have a clause on their page that basically says they won't accept any dogs that have "serious aggression or biting issues" so I'm hoping they'll at least consider Lamar in spite of the aggression (considering I wouldn't necessarily label it "seriously aggressive" just too aggressive for me to handle by myself). I guess it's a waiting game now.
 

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It sounds to me like he's resource guarding. Meaning, his nice warm spot is his resource and he's protecting it from you taking it. He only seems to growl and not want to be disturbed while sleeping. Personally, I don't see this as aggressive so much as communicating behavior. It's the dog equivalent of saying "leave me alone, I'm sleeping." However, if he were to trying to bite, then I would say it's progressed to aggressive.

We have a female basset that is a resource guarder and will growl when one of our other hounds gets on the sectional, even if it's on the farthest end from her. Occasionally she will have a super aggressive moment and go after our other female but it's more posturing and teeth gnashing as no physical harm occurs. We have learned to avoid her triggers as best as we can.

It may be that he would be great as an only dog with someone who would respect his boundaries. I would as the rescue if resource guarding is considered aggressive behavior.
 

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happens when he's been touched while he's sleeping. He refuses to cuddle with anyone (he'll growl if you touch him excessively). We believe he was abused in some way prior to being at the Humane Society (the Humane Society has no background information for the dog, either).

actual nothing in is behavior points to abuse. What you have is a touch sensitive dog. such dogs also tend to be resource guarders. IF This behavior is occur while being touched sleep or not is is rather a simple management to solve the problem ie don't touch the dog. teach the dog an off command and get the dogs attention first with a load noise or smell. for dealing with touch sensitivity and resource guarding I recommend Mine! and for a fair review click here
Donaldson presents resource guarding as a normal, adaptive behavior and rejects notions that resource guarders are not "nice" dogs or are "dominant aggressive". Instead, she focuses on a behaviorist approach to conceptualizing and remediating such behavior.

...
Anal retentive to a fault (and I mean that as a compliment in this context), Donaldson does an excellent job of breaking down forms of resource guarding behavior into detailed, progressive increments. In order to teach a dog to accept having its mouth opened, for example, she lists 60 separate steps - beginning with touching the dog's rump for a single second. It takes 27 steps before one even touches the dog's head.
Clearly, this is not a book for someone who wants a quick fix to their problem. It requires a food-motivated dog and an extremely dedicated and talented owner with the patience and perseverance to apply the technique.
Although the book is decorated with oddly cutesy clipart, it appears to be written more for the dog trainer than the owner himself. Donaldson repeatedly refers to the dog's owner as a third party, implying that the owner is not the target audience of the book. Similarly, her writing style maintains a quasi-academic aloofness. This is unfortunate, because a more approachable writing style and tone geared more towards the owner himself would make the book more welcoming for the reader who really would benefit from reading it. [/quote]
 

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as for explainging the dog behavior "agonistic behavior" is a better term than agressive and more accurate. see Dogs use non-agressive fighting to resolve conflict
Perhaps a more useful term to describe growling at a potential bone thief or the interaction between Denny and Meadow is “agonistic behavior.” Ethologists, who often use this term when studying nonhuman animals, define agonistic behaviors as those that occur between individuals of a particular species in conf lict situations. Examples of agonistic behaviors in dogs include threats like muzzle-puckering and growling; submissive behaviors like crouching, lowering the head and tucking the tail; offensive behaviors like lunging and snapping; defensive behaviors like retracting the commissure (lips) while showing the teeth; and attacking behaviors like biting. With the exception of biting that results in punctures or tears, none of these behaviors necessarily indicates intent to do harm. They simply reveal emotion (e.g., anger or fear), communicate intention (e.g., to maintain control of a resource or to avoid an interaction) or function as a normal part of play fighting (e.g., growling, snapping or inhibited biting). To determine if an interaction meets the criteria for “agonistic behavior,” an observer must focus on an objective description of the communicative patterns displayed rather than automatically jumping to judgments associated with the use of the term “aggression.”
If signals such as bared teeth and growling are not typically preludes to fighting, why do they exist? Paradoxically, such behaviors are usually about how to avoid fighting. Perhaps a more useful term to describe growling at a potential bone thief or the interaction between Denny and Meadow is “agonistic behavior.” Ethologists, who often use this term when studying nonhuman animals, define agonistic behaviors as those that occur between individuals of a particular species in conf lict situations. Examples of agonistic behaviors in dogs include threats like muzzle-puckering and growling; submissive behaviors like crouching, lowering the head and tucking the tail; offensive behaviors like lunging and snapping; defensive behaviors like retracting the commissure (lips) while showing the teeth; and attacking behaviors like biting. With the exception of biting that results in punctures or tears, none of these behaviors necessarily indicates intent to do harm. They simply reveal emotion (e.g., anger or fear), communicate intention (e.g., to maintain control of a resource or to avoid an interaction) or function as a normal part of play fighting (e.g., growling, snapping or inhibited biting). To determine if an interaction meets the criteria for “agonistic behavior,” an observer must focus on an objective description of the communicative patterns displayed rather than automatically jumping to judgments associated with the use of the term “aggression.”
If signals such as bared teeth and growling are not typically preludes to fighting, why do they exist? Paradoxically, such behaviors are usually about how to avoid fighting.
the fact there is no bite history should go a long way in proving the behavior is not really agressive . if the dogs intention were to cause harm it would do so.
 
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