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  1. #21
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brayjj View Post
    Today the dog growled at me. I wanted to check his belly to see about a rash the previous owner told me about, and he growled. He did not want me seeing it.
    Ok, so, first up, growling at humans should never be taken lightly or made light of. Having said that... I'll share my experience.

    That 3-legged pyr we tried to adopt a couple of years ago... well, he didn't have the greatest start in life. The people that got him when he was young chained him up in the yard for the first year or more of his life. The neighbor next door felt sorry for him and convinced the people to give him the dog. Unfortunately that didn't last long. The neighbor had to move and couldn't take the dog with him. So he ended up at an all-breed rescue where this very nice young couple fostered him but they didn't know anything about rehabilitating dogs, or pyrs. Pi was very leash aggressive and thus basically they kept Pi at home with zero socialization. Pi was lucky because the all breed rescue reached out to my local pyr rescue and our pyr rescue took him in. When we brought Pi home, we thought he was about 2.5 or 3 yrs old.

    I'm a very hands-on owner, I do brushing, bathing, nails and teeth myself because i don't trust others to do them for fear of my dog getting traumatized. So naturally I started working on Pi soon after he joined our family. Well, not surprisingly, Pi wasn't used to getting worked on like that. He basically growled at me when I did his nails and growled at me when I did his teeth, and probably a few other things (but PI likes being brushed particularly as he only has one back leg, he is unable to scratch one side of his body so he loves getting a nice "scratch" with a brush). But I could just tell that he wasn't growling because he wanted to bite me, he was growling because I was doing something to him that he just didn't understand and he wanted to let me know he was concerned about it. He never tried to bite me for doing those things to him.

    I am by no means suggesting that your boy won't bite, but I can see a reason why he reacted the way he did. First off, I think it's pretty clear and that you guys know he doesn't have full trust in you and your husband yet. So, you said that you wanted to look at his belly. I would imagine that for you to really look at his belly, you probably had to ask him be in a body position that makes him vulnerable. Since he doesn't yet feel safe around you and your place, it isn't all that surprising that he would tell you he had concerns about what you wanted him to do.

    I would encourage you to focus on the positive. LOTS of dogs that are great family companions can turn aggressive when their humans try to work on the fine hair behind the ears. It seems to be a more sensitive area than others. So the fact that your boy allowed you to work on that spot is a very good thing. Also, the fact that he came home after running off is also a good thing. But as he seems to be on the rather high strung side, it's going to take time to gain his trust.

    If this dog is food motivated at all, I would work with him using high value treats to introduce him to the various things you usually expect your dog would cooperate with you in. Approach it in baby steps and reward LAVISHLY.

    I would also suggest you look into learning about calming signals of dogs. You want to know how to recognize those when your dog is exhibiting them so you can correctly interpret what he's trying to say. Furthermore, and this is something most people don't realize, you can actually engage in the calming signals yourself to calm your dog. I've used calming signals on different dogs to diffuse tension or give reassurance and pretty much every time the dog responded positively. One of the first times I used a calming signal with Pi, the reaction was almost dramatic. Immediately I saw his ears go soft and his shoulders relax. It was a pretty cool moment.

    The book on calming signals that the head of our rescue group earnestly endorses is this one:
    On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas
    This is a thin little book, so a quick read/reference. I never did read this book because I learned about calming signals mostly from Patricia McConnell and Stanley Coren.

    I continue to hope that things are remaining as uneventful as the circumstances allow and that all of you, 2-legged and 4-legged alike remain safe.

  2. #22
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Christi's Avatar

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    I just wanted to chime in here as well. I used to have a very aggressive Pyr, and do to circumstances completely out of my control I had to have him put to sleep. We tried to rehome him but with his level of people aggression it was not safe to do so. I got mine as a puppy, there was never any abuse, or mistreatment of him. He was my baby, and I posted here often about my boy. His aggression was directed at strangers, mostly. However he would also growl at me. We did see a behaviorist, however it was very limited what could be done for him. Perhaps I could have acted sooner, and things would have been different. Or if I had access to a better Behaviorist, and the list goes on. The truth of it all, is that is just how he was wired.

    My advice to you is to act now. You need to learn body language, and the sooner the better. We found out several triggers, and discovered he was giving us many warning signals that we just didn't pick up on till our VBA pointed them out. Had things not been the way they ended up I would have kept him for his whole life. Well I did keep him his whole life only it was cut tragically short by having no options. I say this not to make you think there are no options, but to show that if you work at it you may be able to get the outcome you desire. So far I think you are making great choices, and have been given excellent advice.

  3. #23
    Road Dawg Brayjj's Avatar

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    Thanks! Things have been going okay on walks but today our dog was left out by accident when I was out with the pyr and as soon as our dog got close, he attacked him. I screamed for my husband. Our dogs hair was literally standing on end and he was growling. I think I may have caused this though. When I saw our dog come running I felt nervous and dogs feel energy right, so I think he picked up on it. I’m working hard to “forget” and not be afraid when I’m walking him because I know he will pick up on that. I’m going to try and order all the books everyone mentioned tomorrow.
    I’ve been watching nonstop videos too by all different trainers and behaviorists and everyone has their own ideas.

    He’s definitely not agggressive without a reason, so I don’t think we will ever need put down. I think if anything he will have to be an only dog home but my husband said we are continue on and will try to prevent that. I’ve not heard back from any rescues or places I emailed and I emailed about 10 of them. Perhaps they can’t give any advice or ideas. A trainer we know will skype with us but it’s 90 dollars for 30 minutes. His speciality is aggressive dogs. So we may do that here too. His basic suggestions were kennel both dogs and keep a strict routine going, which we have been doing. Work on all his skills like walking correctly on the leash etc. waiting for everything. He said he would go into more detail on skype.

    Thanks everyone. I appreciate your help.

  4. #24
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    $90 for a 30 minute session is absolutely insane for a trainer. That’s $180 per hour! To put it in perspective, the Vet Chester sees who specializes in behavior charges roughly $120/hr, and she has an office and assistant as overhead. The Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist charges us a flat rate of $300 for three, 1-hour sessions. She is the one who completed her PhD before being allowed to continue the Certification process. Both our behavior Vet and our CAAB are available via email for follow-up support.

    Having worked with a number of trainer-type “behaviorists” as well, I can honestly say that I have no idea what this person can tell you in 30 minutes that you wouldn’t be able to find on the internet. The point of behavior modification is not to “train unwanted behavior out” of the dog, but instead, to teach the dog to change the underlying emotional state causing the unwanted behavior. While loose-lead walking is an important skill to have, it is useless in teaching an anxious dog not to be afraid. You also want to avoid anyone who uses a one-size-fits-all approach, as different dogs respond to different behavior modification techniques differently. When Chester was going through his Separation Anxiety treatment, one of the most widely used and recommended treatment techniques backfired spectacularly. I talked to the CAAB about it, and we stopped using that technique immediately.

    Especially after the growling episode, I will reiterate the suggestion that you have your vet check him over first. The only time Sebastian was ever reactive toward me, we were on our way home from a trip to the Emergency Vet because he wasn’t feeling well. He didn’t want to get in the car, I forced the issue, and he yelped and air snapped at me. I believe I said something to the effect of “WTF”, but not abbreviated. After I backed off, and let him settle for a moment, he got in the car, and we went home.

    I will also reiterate the suggestion that if you seek help for him, you start either with a CAAB, or a dACVB. If it is at all possible, in your situation, I think that a dACVB may be a better choice, since he is exhibiting this behavior at such a young age. If there is not a dACVB near you, the one in Austin, Texas was offering remote consultations the last time I checked. Yes, it is more expensive than $90, but there is far more value in the insight and treatment they are able to give. If a remote session with the dACVB in Austin is not in the budget, I would talk to your vet to see if they know of any vets in the area who specialize in or at least take special interest in behavior cases.

    As far as the growling goes, I agree with everything that Christi and Jewel have said. I also wanted to add that it is important that your family knows never to punish him for growling. While it is easy for us to think of growling as an aggressive act, it is not. It is the dogs way of telling you that he is uncomfortable in the current situation, and would very much like you to back off / stop doing what you’re doing / etc. When you punish the growl, it does nothing to teach him that he has no need to be uncomfortable, it just teaches him not to growl. The next time he is in a situation that makes him uncomfortable, he is more likely to skip the verbal warning, and move to more unpleasant means of telling you to stop, including possibly biting. Yep, this is far easier said than done.
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  5. #25
    Road Dawg Brayjj's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by SebastiansMom View Post
    $90 for a 30 minute session is absolutely insane for a trainer. That’s $180 per hour! To put it in perspective, the Vet Chester sees who specializes in behavior charges roughly $120/hr, and she has an office and assistant as overhead. The Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist charges us a flat rate of $300 for three, 1-hour sessions. She is the one who completed her PhD before being allowed to continue the Certification process. Both our behavior Vet and our CAAB are available via email for follow-up support.

    Having worked with a number of trainer-type “behaviorists” as well, I can honestly say that I have no idea what this person can tell you in 30 minutes that you wouldn’t be able to find on the internet. The point of behavior modification is not to “train unwanted behavior out” of the dog, but instead, to teach the dog to change the underlying emotional state causing the unwanted behavior. While loose-lead walking is an important skill to have, it is useless in teaching an anxious dog not to be afraid. You also want to avoid anyone who uses a one-size-fits-all approach, as different dogs respond to different behavior modification techniques differently. When Chester was going through his Separation Anxiety treatment, one of the most widely used and recommended treatment techniques backfired spectacularly. I talked to the CAAB about it, and we stopped using that technique immediately.

    Especially after the growling episode, I will reiterate the suggestion that you have your vet check him over first. The only time Sebastian was ever reactive toward me, we were on our way home from a trip to the Emergency Vet because he wasn’t feeling well. He didn’t want to get in the car, I forced the issue, and he yelped and air snapped at me. I believe I said something to the effect of “WTF”, but not abbreviated. After I backed off, and let him settle for a moment, he got in the car, and we went home.

    I will also reiterate the suggestion that if you seek help for him, you start either with a CAAB, or a dACVB. If it is at all possible, in your situation, I think that a dACVB may be a better choice, since he is exhibiting this behavior at such a young age. If there is not a dACVB near you, the one in Austin, Texas was offering remote consultations the last time I checked. Yes, it is more expensive than $90, but there is far more value in the insight and treatment they are able to give. If a remote session with the dACVB in Austin is not in the budget, I would talk to your vet to see if they know of any vets in the area who specialize in or at least take special interest in behavior cases.

    As far as the growling goes, I agree with everything that Christi and Jewel have said. I also wanted to add that it is important that your family knows never to punish him for growling. While it is easy for us to think of growling as an aggressive act, it is not. It is the dogs way of telling you that he is uncomfortable in the current situation, and would very much like you to back off / stop doing what you’re doing / etc. When you punish the growl, it does nothing to teach him that he has no need to be uncomfortable, it just teaches him not to growl. The next time he is in a situation that makes him uncomfortable, he is more likely to skip the verbal warning, and move to more unpleasant means of telling you to stop, including possibly biting. Yep, this is far easier said than done.
    That's what we thought too, that it was expensive for that short amount of time. This guy is really expensive. If he comes out to your home, the prices are crazy, but people report good results from him. But I agree. I have children that the "one size fits all" doesn't work for... so I totally understand on dogs. Some of the videos I've watched, I actually laugh. Mainly these are already trained dogs, who they make everything "Look easy", when in fact you have a large dog, it's not that easy.

    For growling we just tell him no. Like when he attacked our dog, my husband tells him No, we don't do that.... just a firm NO, that is not allowed type of thing.
    When he's growled at me, I've just told him No... but is that wrong then? I completely understand your point on the growling. I've read may posts of people and everyone has their own opinions. It seems like with everything.

    I guess we were really lucky with our other 2 dogs who were rescues. We just put them in the same room together, and everytime they met a new dog, they always met face to face. I told my husband, knowing what we know now, wow... it's amazing there was never a bad meeting. We once dropped them both off at a friends house to watch them for us for a week, while we had to go out of town, they had never met this lady nor her dogs, and my husband said he just walked them into the house, they met everyone and laid down...

    Thanks kindly for your ideas. I appreciate it! There is a trainer up the road from us, she only does positive training, she charges 50 dollars per class, but I've heard her thing is "one size fits all", and a friend of ours who took their dog there for biting people, she wasn't helpful. This dog, is a large dog also, and when people come, if you stop petting him, he bites them. My husband was bitten twice from this dog, and he tore his pants both times... They spent a lot of money on this lady, and she wasn't helpful. That's why I'm leary of these "one size fits all " places too like you said.
    I did look into those people when they were first suggested, but there are no close by. Can talking to someone far away and paying them for "service" really help?
    The vet we use, is an old man, who is a country vet, who deals with farm animals and such. He really has no idea on behaviors and training. The other vets, we had used in the area, didn't either. They just recommended the "one size fits all" trainers, but this situation doesn't seem to be a one size fits all type of thing.
    Thank you for the encouragement. I really appreciate it. Sebastian is blessed to have you as a owner!

  6. #26
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Good morning, my name is Tony, owner of Knucklehead K9 Services out of New Cumberland PA (just a few miles from Harrisburg). I came to this site as I was doing some research on this breed and of course I came across your posts. I haven't read all the posts on here but much of what I have read is a lot of good advice people are giving you. I'm not a certified behaviorist but I am a certified dog trainer with over 20 years experience working with dogs and many of my colleagues have been behaviorists and to be quite honest, we are all very much alike in many ways. I know you are getting pulled in many directions in regards to what to do or what not to do so I don't want to frustrate you any further. But, I'm located very close and I am willing to help you. If you go to Thumbtack and look up my company, Knucklehead K9 Services, LLC or just Google it, you will see my profile and all the clients that I have worked with over the last 3 years since starting my company. My fees are nowhere near that ridiculous price you mentioned and I get great results with my clients. As I think I've seen mentioned, it may be a case of where the dog needs to be the only dog therefore rehomed, I don't know. Most cases, it just comes down to management and all that comes with it which many here have mentioned already such as being able to read a dog, using calming signals to your benefit to communicate, knowing your dog's thresholds and triggers, etc. Gotta run but if you would like to contact me please email me at knuckleheadk9@gmail.com . Thanks. Tony

  7. #27
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Welcome, Tony, I am so glad that you are here doing research on the breed. If you ever have any questions, please feel free to ask us.

    The fact that you are here doing research (which I absolutely love), leads me to believe that you may already understand that Pyrs and other LGDs (Livestock Guardian Dogs) aren’t like the more biddable breeds. While most breeds were developed to work alongside humans in some capacity, LGD breeds were developed over thousands of years to work independently from human guidance or interference. They have an instinctual need to think for themselves and make decisions based on what they think will keep everyone safe - NOT what will make their human happy. In general, LGDs don’t care if we’re happy with the decisions they make, as long as everyone is safe.

    Biddable breeds tend to accept human leadership because we’re the ones in charge of the training tools. With LGDs, it’s not so simple. They were developed to work in partnerships to do a job that at times is very much life-or-death. There is no “Alpha” in their world. The highest status a human can hope to achieve is that of “Partner”, and we do that by earning their trust. They need to know that we can make decisions calmly and rationally, as overly-emotional decision making can lead to disaster. They need to know that we are benevolent, consistent, and predictable. AT times, this is far easier said than done.

    In this case, there are a few complicating factors that lead me to believe that a true behavior expert is going to have the best chance of helping him. The first is his age. This boy is just over a year old, which in terms of cognitive and emotional development, would make his closest human equivalent a middle-schooler. While yes, dog-aggression is somewhat common among the LGD breeds, it typically doesn’t manifest until the dog has reached emotional adulthood - at somewhere between two and three years old (which, by the way, is when a good many cases of anxiety-related behaviors begin to become apparent).

    The other complicating factor here is the dog’s breed mix. This dog has not only Pyr in his mix, but Akbash and Karakachan as well. In general, both of these breeds have temperaments that are at the sharper end of the LGD temperament scale, with the Pyr generally having a temperament that would fall more at the sound end of the scale. If this boy inherited his personality from his Akbash/Karakachan side, that could spell danger later on, particularly if the family were to use the wrong techniques in trying to treat the behavior.

    Please know that I mean no disrespect when I say that this boy and his family need more help than a trainer can provide. I feel strongly that this boy’s issues may not be entirely behavioral - that there may be an underlying medical condition causing or contributing to the behavior. I say this having one dog of my own whose issues are largely behavioral, and one whose issues are largely medical.
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  8. #28
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Brayjj - So I went to the website for the dACVB in Austin, and it appears that he is now only doing remote consultations for veterinarians.

    I know it’s a drive, but is there any way that you might be able to get your boy to this clinic?
    http://www.reisnervetbehavior.com

    I do think that if it is all possible, the best course of action would be to have him evaluated to see if there is an underlying medical cause, and also to see if he is a good candidate for medication. My Chester is on medication, and while it was not a magic cure-all for his behavior, it did help to regulate his brain chemistry in a way that made behavior modification possible. I have no idea whether or not medication would be helpful in your situation.

    As far as the growling goes, if it were me, I would try to remain calm and simply stop whatever it was that I was doing that elicited the growling. Think of it not as an aggressive act, but as a form of communication. If you have to say something, instead of saying “no”, try something along the lines of , “okay, I’ll stop doing that. Thank you for letting me know.”

    This boy is so lucky to have you and your family. I am sending you all a bunch of good energy!
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  9. #29
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Default Thank you for the welcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by SebastiansMom View Post
    Welcome, Tony, I am so glad that you are here doing research on the breed. If you ever have any questions, please feel free to ask us.

    The fact that you are here doing research (which I absolutely love), leads me to believe that you may already understand that Pyrs and other LGDs (Livestock Guardian Dogs) aren’t like the more biddable breeds. While most breeds were developed to work alongside humans in some capacity, LGD breeds were developed over thousands of years to work independently from human guidance or interference. They have an instinctual need to think for themselves and make decisions based on what they think will keep everyone safe - NOT what will make their human happy. In general, LGDs don’t care if we’re happy with the decisions they make, as long as everyone is safe.

    Biddable breeds tend to accept human leadership because we’re the ones in charge of the training tools. With LGDs, it’s not so simple. They were developed to work in partnerships to do a job that at times is very much life-or-death. There is no “Alpha” in their world. The highest status a human can hope to achieve is that of “Partner”, and we do that by earning their trust. They need to know that we can make decisions calmly and rationally, as overly-emotional decision making can lead to disaster. They need to know that we are benevolent, consistent, and predictable. AT times, this is far easier said than done.

    In this case, there are a few complicating factors that lead me to believe that a true behavior expert is going to have the best chance of helping him. The first is his age. This boy is just over a year old, which in terms of cognitive and emotional development, would make his closest human equivalent a middle-schooler. While yes, dog-aggression is somewhat common among the LGD breeds, it typically doesn’t manifest until the dog has reached emotional adulthood - at somewhere between two and three years old (which, by the way, is when a good many cases of anxiety-related behaviors begin to become apparent).

    The other complicating factor here is the dog’s breed mix. This dog has not only Pyr in his mix, but Akbash and Karakachan as well. In general, both of these breeds have temperaments that are at the sharper end of the LGD temperament scale, with the Pyr generally having a temperament that would fall more at the sound end of the scale. If this boy inherited his personality from his Akbash/Karakachan side, that could spell danger later on, particularly if the family were to use the wrong techniques in trying to treat the behavior.

    Please know that I mean no disrespect when I say that this boy and his family need more help than a trainer can provide. I feel strongly that this boy’s issues may not be entirely behavioral - that there may be an underlying medical condition causing or contributing to the behavior. I say this having one dog of my own whose issues are largely behavioral, and one whose issues are largely medical.
    Thank you. I agree with most of what you have said and think much of the information that you have been providing is very sound. At the same time, often times what you hear is not what you see which is why I always do a "Boots on the Ground" assessment. This very well may be a medical issue and this is always something I consider advising in my protocols if need be and as I had stated, I really just wanted them to know that there are professional trainers close to them that have a great deal of experience in both training and assessing behaviors, who also have compassion and are not looking to pad our wallets. I honestly give away more of my time in helping dog owners than I probably should (from a business point of view) but that is a moral code I live by with regards to my business.

    Thank you again for your kind welcome and your insightful information. In the end, I hope this family is helped and a resolution is found.

    Respectfully,
    Tony

  10. #30
    Road Dawg Brayjj's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by SebastiansMom View Post
    Brayjj - So I went to the website for the dACVB in Austin, and it appears that he is now only doing remote consultations for veterinarians.

    I know it’s a drive, but is there any way that you might be able to get your boy to this clinic?
    http://www.reisnervetbehavior.com

    I do think that if it is all possible, the best course of action would be to have him evaluated to see if there is an underlying medical cause, and also to see if he is a good candidate for medication. My Chester is on medication, and while it was not a magic cure-all for his behavior, it did help to regulate his brain chemistry in a way that made behavior modification possible. I have no idea whether or not medication would be helpful in your situation.

    As far as the growling goes, if it were me, I would try to remain calm and simply stop whatever it was that I was doing that elicited the growling. Think of it not as an aggressive act, but as a form of communication. If you have to say something, instead of saying “no”, try something along the lines of , “okay, I’ll stop doing that. Thank you for letting me know.”

    This boy is so lucky to have you and your family. I am sending you all a bunch of good energy!
    Thanks for the encouragement. He is actually part Maremma, not the Akbash.

    Each day as we have him, I seem to learn more and more. I found out he likes sticks. He won't play with anything else, but tried a stick while outside, and he was chewing on it. My son got near him with the stick and he growled at him too. When he did that all I did was say his name. He knew he did wrong, because he put his head down and looked at me, but now I have to be on guard for that as well.

    I did look into that vet. I'm going to call her, to see if she knows of any resources closer to our area. Right now, I can't travel there as I have a child that we are going to lots of hospitals for that has health issues, so traveling far, for the dog right now, needs to wait a little bit, plus, I am unsure to how he will act for a long trip. When we took the dog on, I honestly had no idea things would be this difficult. We are making it work right now, as an upstairs and downstairs dog, but long term not sure this can work, but for now we are doing it. We were thinking putting wall hooks into the house walls, and getting our dog used to being hooked to it on his dog bed. Then bring the other dog, up, and get him used to being on his dog bed, tied to the wall... then slowly, put them in the same room, they will both be tied, in seperate locations (our home is really small), but then they can see eachother in the home, each have their "own space". With having small children, I think that may be the best solution with getting them both to the same floor. Everything is real baby steps.


    I contacted many rescues, and ones near us that work with dogs who have aggression issues, but no one emails me back. I'm a little surprised by that, but I am sure they are very busy.

    I talked to his previous vet, and she didn't seem to think he had any health issues. I am going to make him an appointment soon (there is a vet that travels, and I think it may be best for them to come here, instead of me taking him to the vet right now, because honestly, I don't know how he would react around other dogs, or people...) He's due for his vaccines mid November, so I was trying to wait to do everything at once, and not have to go and come back again. That's why I called his previous vet to get all his information. Since he's now our legal responsibility, I need to keep in mind about others around us too. I never once had to worry about a dog biting someone, I don't think he would bite someone, but I am not trusting him at all currently.

    Thanks!

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