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Every once in a while our Josie will snap at someone...usually a male. First it seemed to be if the fellow was wearing a baseball cap but now we noticed that she will seem to do it even if they are not wearing a cap. She is a rescue who had MANY issues when we first got her but she has overcome a lot of them. This one seems to reappear from time to time and sometimes catches us off guard. There are times when it seems that she is restraining herself from doing it but other times she will snap and when we call her on it she will retreat and then a short time later try to sneak and do it again.

Any suggestion to break her from doing this would be greatly appreciated.

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I would try very hard to observe her and see the body language that precedes this behavior - stiffness, hackles, showing whites of eyes, commissure of mouth coming forward (that's the area where the upper and lower lips meet in the "corner"), stillness (getting very still and not moving), and any other "warning signs" that she is approaching aggression (which is likely due to fearfulness and not an aggressive nature, at a guess).


Before or when you see this behavior, get her occupied with *something else* like paying attention to you, touch games (touching the hand wherever you place it), doing basic obedience, and praising and treating for her successful behaviors.


I would not avoid being around men but actually attempt to get to the point where she is relaxed around them, can look at them comfortable and without reaction, and can even take treats or petting. But I would do this very gradually and with caution, making sure to take "baby steps" and always being ready to praise good behavior (relaxation).


Above all, make sure you are relaxed, do not put tension on her leash (a tight leash signals anxiety), and plan to manage the situation to help produce success for your dog. Many aspects of dog behavior are communication, and I believe growling, showing some teeth, and air snapping are all dog language warnings, and should not be harshly reprimanded but can be fairly corrected verbally ("aght" or "what are you doing?") followed by giving the dog something positive to do to replace the behavior.


There are other people who will be able to give you much better advice. This is a situation that requires care but I think you can most likely be very successful. If not, then use good management to avoid her being in a position that triggers this behavior. Ask people to not approach, touch, or stare at her if you are concerned about her reaction.


Best wishes!

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On top of what Sue said about body language, I would watch what the men she snaps at are doing. She could be very uneasy around men for what ever reason...loud, deep voices, larger, more puffed out body posture etc. Dogs can be sensitive to these things. Watch what they are doing around the time she snaps...staring directly at her, smiling at her, trying to reach over her head to pet her, quick fast movements etc. These will all give you a better idea of what you need to get her comfortable with. At first, it may not seem to be anything at all, but there is usually some sort of trigger that will set her off.


Pamela Dennison has a good book called "How to right a dog gone wrong" and it has some very, very good techniques and training outlines in it that she used to desensitize her aggressive dog to other dogs and people. Not saying your dog is aggressive, probably just fearful, but hers was extremely aggressive and she's done wonders with that dog! This book was written specifically for fear aggressive and aggressive dogs. You might find something useful in it!

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Along with the above replies, I suggest watching what the men are carrying...is it anything she could be afraid of? Do they raise their arms above their head? Are they wearing heavy boots, etc...I think you will find something in common with her snapping if you pay close attention to what her body tells you.


Good luck!

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My dog still doesn't fully trust strange men, after four years and a lot of work. One thing that definitely did help was asking men who wanted to be friends with him to give treats. After maybe 1,000 meetings with treats, it seemed to dawn on my dog that maybe, sometimes, perhaps, meeting a man could be a good thing.


Things that set Buddy off include sudden movements toward him, sudden reaching out of a hand, big sticks or bats in hands, weird sunglasses, weird gates (limps, etc.), hand over his head, coming from behind... um, anything quick or out of the ordinary, now that I think about it. ::Sigh::



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