Its just me and my mother. Always had dogs. Last dog was Labrador. Everyone warned my mother to be careful getting a collie, hard work. She seemed committed as am I. Had Charlie from 6 weeks old, which I have found out was probably too early. I am a puppy novice and not afraid to admit it. Mother gave the impression she knows what she's doing.
Never played any aggressive games with Charlie. Doesn't appear to be any physical issues or pain. From early on he never liked his paws being touched much, he might nip. Cutting nails was a nightmare. Teething and play biting was a hard time but even when walking away and saying ouch I never found that he got any softer. Mum made some bad decisions I think, such as giving him too much rope jumping up to kitchen worktop without disapline or jumping on sofa while she eats. I have taught him to sit, down, stay (a bit hit and miss), "leave" when handing him food and recently "off" which does work well for getting him off the sofa and down from kitchen worktop. Although he rarely stays down unless the treats keep flowing as praise!
My mother is a bit ocd about Charlie picking up things outside, and one evening she thought he had a slug. She attempted to stupidly open his mouth to get it out and lightly shook his collar when he didn't let her. He turned and bit her hand and as she swiped away it left a deep cut with a little blood. Since then she is naturally scared, although it doesn't seem that much of a surprise that he tried to bite in this scenario??
Putting the incident aside, biting trousers and feet in the house went on for some time but phased out. It moved on to biting upper clothing, but then biting deeper to skin contact which forced me to start wearing thick jumpers to protect myself.
I strongly felt that mum was not giving Charlie much disapline early on for him to learn what he can and cannot do. Recently I stepped in and used a much firmer voice, and focused on training his commands more but he's still quite out of control at times. When visitors come, I may quietly coax him into his crate by saying "crate" and rewarding, but if we have to put a lead on him for a few minutes and get him to sit to keep distance from the visitor, he can eventually get frustrated and bite the nearest thing to him - be it me, or even the nearest toy. I've noticed regularly that if he tries to have his own way and then realises that I am simply going to ignore him or give him a "no" or "leave" command....He can run off and find the nearest toy to absolutely destroy in temper.
My mother would feed Charlie using a bowl and let him eat it on his own in another room. A local dog behaviourist suggested, among other things, filling multiple kongs to keep him occupied longer. It was when I started doing this that I noticed how much he hates seeing someone else being around his food (preparing it more than anything). As I filled his kongs at the counter, he would jump up, and I would keep giving him commands to get off. If he did get off and sit i would give him some of the food to reward as I'm preparing it. However his frustration gets the better of him and he will jump up and bite your arm multiple times to the point where u then resort to putting the food away until he gets rid of his energy and anger. I ignore him at this moment. The odd thing is that although he is highly strung when I'm preparing his food, when he's eating it I can be around him without him showing any signs of defence that I can tell. If he's got a kong trapped under something for example, he will let me get it for him and give it to him without any drama.
As ive sat and thought, it seems that all of his anger is brought on by being frustrated when he cant have his own way, when he cant get to the object he wants or even sometimes if you tell him "no". Ive left messages with another trainer yesterday who specialises in agression. It seems like "redirected agression crossed with possessive agression", might that sound right?
After a week of being mauled from behind as I prepare his food, I decided that I might try a different approach today by filling his bowl halfway with food and then slowly dropping more food into his bowl as I stand near him. Does this sound sensible? He happily sat down this morning while I drop fed him some food near his kongs, although when I got near the end he lurched again, bit at my jumper arm and tried to drag as he growled.
If I'm sat on the sofa and he jumps up to lay on me, he may be ok, but if he smells any leftover treats in my pocket I have to get up quickly because he will bite in order to get the crumbs or treats if there were any.
When he's good he's a lovable dog. He loves visitors and has never showed agression towards them and still doesn't. I'm not completely oblivious to the fact that we do need to keep him away from people until this is resolved though and that will be the case. The postman loves him and fussed him every day. He goes for regular walks and meets other dogs on the way. Again, he doesn't show agression towards them but does like to play and dart around with them.
Everyone has different opinions. Obviously I don't want to give up on Charlie, especially since his bouts of agression do seem to have logical reasons behind it. Its not as though he is randomly ripping me to shreds for no reason. One or two friends seem to think it's the end if the road, and others think like me that he needs the right help.
Any of your thoughts are greatly appreciated.
James and Charlie.