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Ben started off being ultra friendly with everyone including visitors - canine and human - to the house. But we have had a couple of surprising instances.

1) I was chatting with someone who was out walking her two (male) dogs and he suddenly lunged towards one of them. Fortunately they were all on a lead though he did manage to nip the end of the other dog's tail

2) Out walking again and met an elderly neighbour (male) who stroked Ben under the chin and Ben growled back

3) In our garden and chatting with a neighbour (with her female dog) over the wall and he growled.


I must add we have bonded really well and he is usually very well behaved and responsive. Since this didn't happen at first and it has only happened when I have been chatting with someone, just wondering if it is 'resource guarding' - me being the resource!

Interestingly the postman chucked a load of mail through the open door when Ben was sitting there one day. Despite getting a bit of a fright, he didn't as much as growl! But of course I wasn't interacting with the postman.


If we do meet people, I now put myself in front, between him and them. Supposedly that conveys to the dog that you are in charge and handling things. It hasn't happened again recently but I don't give it much chance - and I am asking people not to stroke him. Plus I always have a pocket full of treats or a squeaky ball to divert him or to build up good associations with us meeting people.

Is there anything else I should be doing?

I understand you shouldn't reprimand a dog for growling because you could end up just removing the warning sign that he feels defensive..

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I think you are handling it well - keeping Ben separate from people and 'protecting' Ben so he feels safer, and continues to build his trust in you.


I really don't know if he is resource guarding or if he doesn't yet feel safe. I can not tell from an internet description so will just say that both are a possibility.


BUT - From my experiences in the rescue dog community, it is not unheard of for a previously friendly dog to start growling, lunging, nipping etc. in situations in which he previously seemed OK. What that means is that he has been pushed too fast and too far. He does not YET trust you to protect him 100%. He may be 50% or 80% or XX% there, but he can't tell you except with his actions. And from your previous posts, you are very observant and will take appropriate action.


Sooo, if he is still not fully confident and needs to build a bit more trust in you, continue to protect him from well-meaning people who want to pet him. Also, by slowing down the situations and experiences he is exposed to, he should come along with his confidence.


Just an anecdote: I volunteer for a rescue that a few years ago had to put down a dog that finally ended up having to bite a couple of times because the owners, although well-meaning and loving, were clueless as far as canine behavior. From my understanding of the situation, they adopted a 1 - 2 year old dog and were so proud of their new family member that they brought it everywhere, introduced it to everyone both at home and out-and-about, invited all sorts of family and friends to meet him, etc. At the start, the dog was very friendly, but after a month, he had become so overwhelmed with all the activity, that he became nervous in situations where he was previously comfortable and finally ended up nipping/biting one or two people that were trying to pet/play with him. [And unfortunately, a dog with a bite history can not be adopted out to the general public for liability reasons.]


When I have fostered, if I hear that the new adopters want to bring their dog out and about and invite people to their house, I strongly impress on them to slow it down and wait a few weeks to let their dog get comfortable in their new situation.


Each dog is different. Some are very confident right out of the gate, whereas others will take a long time to become more confident with new people and situations.


I think you are on the right track by dialing it back a bit. There is never any harm in reducing pressure on a dog.


Good Luck.

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His vision issues may not help, either. We had a very well-socialized dog who lost most of his vision when someone shot him. He remained an excellent dog but could be less predictable in certain circumstances as he got older when he felt he might be vulnerable.


So, as stated, Ben needs to feel confident that you have things under control and that you are not moving him ahead faster than he can handle things.


It sounds like you have a very good grasp of the situation already.

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I live in a quiet rural area and we only see others occasionally - the visitors were an unexpected once in a blue moon event. As opposed to the example cited - too much too soon - I have been wondering if the opposite might apply to us - ie he hasn't actually had enough encounters with others and the more time we spend 1:1, the more anyone else might be perceived as a threat/intrusion. Someone who works for a rescue organisation told me this can happen with rescue dogs.

We have actually been restricted in getting out and about because he doesn't like the car and we have been doing all the usual conditioning play with a mostly static car!

As you say, his poor sight doesn't help.

My old girl could be a bit possessive - if that's what this is - but only with other dogs. If I started paying attention to another dog, she would try to get between us to see the other dog off (but no growling or snapping). And if that didn't work she would start trying to get my attention with a toy.

I could probably do with co-opting a few people into some controlled scenarios. The other day I resorted to asking someone out with her dog to ignore us so that we could walk past without paying them any attention. Nothing to see here Ben..... :rolleyes:. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to get people to drop some treats...

Apart from this niggle he is an awesome dog. He just wants to please and looks chastened if he thinks he has done something wrong - as only a collie can...

Edit: Small car ride today and he wasn't poorly. Woohoo! Means I can get him to the vet and have a full blood panel/health check done. Can't rule out that health issues might be causing any behavioural changes.

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