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Signs of Loaded Gun Dogs: The Dark Side of Dangerous or Soon-to-be "Red Zone Dogs"

Aug 27, 2008
Here's where your dog's dark secrets will come to light. Experts refer to these dogs as "Red Zone Dogs," "Ticking Time Bombs" or "Loaded Guns." Any way you choose to label them, these doggies are always in need of the immediate help of an expert who has the expertise in dealing with extreme dominance and aggression. You know when a crazy boyfriend or a girlfriend has some red flags that you wish you knew about earlier on, or, you knew about them but couldn't really see the danger in them? It's not much different when it comes to these dogs. Here we go.

Does your dog, or anyone else's that you know of, possess any of these signs?

* Does your dog stop eating or pause from chewing on his bone, a toy or any object he feels like guarding from you by growling and snapping at you as you get near him? You notice a tense posture with hackles up as he looks at you sideways, downward or from a crouching position. You may see him block his dish or a bone with his head in a sudden move. How about eating his food very fast as if it's going to be his last meal and even growling the entire time as he gobbles it down? This indicates a dog that doesn't fully trust or respect you. Don't be surprised if he lunges at your hand or feet trying to keep you away as if you haven't fed it for days. Unless you want your fingers to become an appetizer, don't try anything cute or sneaky on your own.

* Growls and really attempts to bite you when you are trying to restrain him, pick him off the ground, or just to push him out of your way? How about when you move him off your bed, off the couch or even off your lap? Sometimes it could be as minor as bumping into your dog and waking him up accidentally or intentionally. Again, if we could hear your dog talk, we'd hear, "How dare you disturb me you idiot. Can't you see that I was sleeping like a baby?" This also happens to owners who let their lovely dogs sleep on the bed with them or with their kids. In a way, the dog's taking over. You should remember that it is your home, your bed, and your dog.

* Steals something off the ground or off counters and as you chase him to take the object away, or grab a hold of it, he tries to bite your hand off. This also could happen when your dog is cornered, hiding under the bed, or when you wrestle him to the ground trying to get your favorite shoes or your underpants out of his jaw. A dog that fully respects you will NEVER do any of this and will definitely leave your underwear alone!

* Grabs the leash or even your clothes tightly with his teeth and won't let go. Some dogs keep on tugging backward in an attempt to get it out of your grip. Just for fun, they might also growl to intimidate you even more. This is not a tug of war game and your dog knows it! He is basically saying, "Let me jerk you around so you can see how it feels, pal. You stop it, NO--YOU LET GO!"

* Bites at the air trying to scare you. You even hear the sound of those lovely teeth snap shut. If the dog is actually lunging at you, this is an attempt to challenge, scare, or dominate you. Remember, dogs are faster than you'd think and rarely miss. After all, they even catch a fly from the air. Ninety percent of the time, it is just a warning for you to back off, or the next time those canines will dig in your skin and do some serious damage.

* Attacks other dogs or your second dog in the household. Some of these dogs want all of the toys, all of the treats, all of Mommy's or Daddy's attention, and may push your other dogs out of the way. When finally frustrated, they'll take matters in their own hands and do serious harm to the weaker and more vulnerable dog. This always happens when the owner walks in or is somewhere nearby. These are the dogs that could get along just fine all day in the backyard or even inside the house, but the minute that favorite "owner" shows up, all hell breaks loose! You'll notice these dog fights mostly occur around the owner.

* Bites down on your hand and literally hangs on for a few seconds, growling, but doesn't really break the skin. This is not a play bite! It is serious and you feel AND sense the danger. Or maybe it was just a warning. You don't notice much pain or see any puncture wounds, but your dog is warning you: "Look. I could've crushed your bones or took a good chunk out of you if I wanted to, but I let you go this time. Not just yet." This is a dog that always stays the same and gets worse as time goes by!

* Growls and snaps at you when you are arguing with your loved ones. You might notice lots of pacing back and forth, growling, barking and lunging at you or at the other person. It could be your spouse or one of your kids. Basically the dog is trying to get things under control on his own. Sometimes it may be that the dog doesn't even want you to hug or show each other any affection. These dogs will push their way through and jump up on you, nip, growl or bark so you keep your distance from one another. Again, this shows lack of trust and leadership on "your part," so the dog's trying to step in. Who's the control-freak now?

* Literally lunges at you by running up to you in an attempt to bite you. This is all premeditated. It's not like most cases when you can make an excuse for your dog by saying, "Well, it wasn't his fault because of blah blah blah..." This might be because you were trying to correct him from attacking a dog, a child, or just because he was trying to steal food off counters.

* Holds a grudge for something that happened a few minutes ago, a few hours, or worse even a few years ago and bites you unprovoked when you least expect it or when you DO see it coming.

* Snaps at you, at your loved ones or your other dog for no apparent reason. Again, this is just like a bully who thinks he can, and just because he feels like it. I've seen dogs that bit their poor owners totally out of the blue. I've tried to get to the root of the problem, but found no explanation other than the dog just "felt like it." Some of these instances could be a sign of epilepsy, psychosis or other medical problems, but it is very rare. Sorry. You could just have a wacko dog that needs help! Basically you are dealing with a dog that needs an expert who specializes in dealing with extremely dominant and alpha-type behavior.

I've Saved the Very Worst For Last!!!

* And when he finally bites you, regardless of how much you scream, cry or shout out, "NO," " NOOOOOOOO" and try to get your hand out of his jaw, not only does he keep on ignoring you, but even tugs backward and shakes your poor hand like a rag doll. Some of these dogs bite down really fast multiple times leaving lots of puncture wounds in a matter of seconds! These are the bites that require medical treatment and leave a scar that easily lasts months, if not years.

This one is a no-brainer. If you own such a dog, you need professional help―RIGHT NOW! It has gone far the "beyond obedience" factor. You need to hire a professional that actually deals and accepts such cases on a regular basis. I am one of them, but thank goodness not the only one. Unless you start with an expert immediately, these warning signs are only the beginning of your problems. Dogs with such behavior never get better on their own. In fact, they always get worse. I am talking about "the worst-of-the-worst" here.

Look at it this way. Will any of YOUR bad habits go away on their own? Of course not. Psycho dogs are no different!
About the Author
Kevin Salem is considered to be one of the brightest minds in the world of dog training and one of the pioneers in his field. It's hard to paint Kevin's image with the same brush as others, as his unique way of thinking, writing, and philosophy truly makes him distinct. Kevin offers Doggie Boot Camp or House Calls Nationwide. Try his book, hire him in person, or see him put his eyebrow raising skills into action on his award-winning web site: http://ww.DogSecrets.com
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