We are temporarily taking on a two year old male GSP (neutered) who has shown some aggression to joggers in his past. The past two incidents involved a bite that punctured the skin. The owners can no longer keep him and he would have been destroyed if they could not find a home. In all three cases the individual attacked was a jogger in dark clothing, once on the beach and twice near home. The owners made serious attempts to keep him leashed in public spaces and any time he was outside of the yard, but he managed to dash out the front door for the most recent event (any GSP owner will understand that keeping GSPs under control 100% of the time is pretty much impossible, so not looking for any naive suggestions along this line).
We do not want to keep the dog long term and are hoping to find a hunting home for him where he would be giving a positive outlet for his hunt drive as well as kept away from joggers. Does this seem reasonable? Are there any suggestions for how to train out this behavior? Since it has been triggered by a specific situation, I am thinking that we could recreate the stimulus and apply some level of correction if he responds aggressively. Something I will talk about with a animal behavior expert before undertaking of course.
Happy to entertain any reasonable suggestions, preachy or overly opinionated responses will be ignored.
You have an e-collar, correct? My first thought is to set up a similar situation (with a volunteer willing to take a risk) and hit him hard with the collar. I'm sure there are folks that will disagree and I'll be the first to tell you that I don't know a thing about dogs with aggression issues. Only an idea - but desperate times call for desperate measures.
So there are two triggers that you described in your post: running person and dark clothes. How does he behave with a stranger just standing in dark clothes? How does he respond to someone running in light clothes? I am trying to clarify if it is the combination that is the trigger or if it is two separate triggers, or only one trigger. You need to isolate the trigger first. Once you isolate the trigger, then you can work toward correcting the problem. I would definitely use a behaviorist for this one.
The ecollar approach may actually work in reverse in this scenario as it may confirm for the dog that the running person in dark clothes is dangerous/scary and now it hurts too.
Desensitization & Counter Conditioning in dogs. Here are some links. You can use google to try to find some other articles re: desensitization and c/c.
http://www.bcrescuetexas.org/Training/ATM_Desensitization.pdf - although this one is for dogs that are fearful of the vet it is the same idea.
Having a runner turn around and confront the dog is probably not a good idea. Not unless that person wants to get bitten. No reprimands either.. the dog already hates runners he doesn't need another reason to hate them even more.
And if you can't fix the dog.. the nicest thing you can do for him (and the people he is determined to bite) is to euthanize him. No person deserves to be bitten by a dog.. especially not one with a history of biting.
Somer, thanks for the link to the IAABC, I have contacted a local behavioralist listed on their site. Thanks!