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Aggression In A Year-Old Mini Aussie
Mickey on the day I got him (last Christmas).
My 1-year-old male Mini Aussie has been showing signs of aggression starting in July of this year (when he was about 10 months); things like growling when under coffee tables or when someone reaches to touch him in cornered positions. He full-on bit my hand once when I was reaching for some trash lying next to him while he was crouched underneath a table, and I immediately made an appointment for neutering and set him up for obedience school, which he did very well in.
After a certain period of time I could predict when he would be likely to growl or snap, so I took measures to avoid those circumstances all together, because I honestly could not control my fear when he would behave like this. After growling or biting he would usually come up to me in an "apologetic" manner.
Having suffered only one other bite since the initial one (one in which I feel completely responsible because I inadvertently trapped and then hurt him (on accident!)), I was beginning to feel better about the situation. I thought that there had been many factors contributing to his aggression (such as living in a cramped space and not getting enough mental or physical exercise) that I had taken steps to rectify. We have since moved out of the cramped apartment we were in this summer, and I have been diligent about exercising him and spending time with him.
However, this past weekend we went to a weekend retreat with a very small church family of about 15 people, and he was given too much free range of the camp and I believe became "overstimulated." He growled at some small children that were there, but quickly changed his behavior (he had never been around children before, so I'm not sure why did this). Later, though, he growled at a man who was petting him, and then, mere seconds later, bit the crap out of woman's hand as he was sitting next to me. I feel like, because he is so energetic and—contrastingly—nervous, he became very high strung over the course of the day, which cause him to lash out.
My question is this: what should I do specifically to ensure that this never happens again? As it is right now I could never have him around children, or, really, anyone, as I am terrified that he will bite someone. I want to be able to feel safe around him, and comfortable when he is around others, strangers or no. Also, what could be specific contributing factors to this aggression? I assume that is fear aggression, but it is so different from what I am used to with him, like a split-second personality shift that I have no way of really predicting.
Aussie Behavior Problems? Australian Shepherd Lover's Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care