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Ok we have a problem.

A little background, we rescued our boy Rufus in September. He was an owner surrender due to no fault of his own.

Soon after we got him he snapped at the girls a couple of times, seemingly for no reason. One of the times he caught Ellies ear quite badly making it bleed. This worried me but after speaking with a trainer he said that often dogs who have had little contact with other dogs can forget how to 'talk dog' and so can snap out rather than giving a warning growl first. We gave it some time and have now gone about 3 months without incident that is until tonight.

I was on the sofa with Rufus asleep beside me when he suddenly snapped and bit my leg; there was no warning growl, he just snapped out of nowhere. He didn't break the skin but it did hurt. I obviously got him off the sofa but he seemed completely oblivious to what he'd just done. I'm not sure whether maybe he snapped out in his sleep as that's what it seemed like.

Since we've had him he has shown absoloutly no aggression other than these episodes, although they almost seem more like a reflex than an aggressive response. He is such a gentle loving dog, he is very calm and obedient but the fact he snaps without warning really worries me. We don't have children ourselves but have friends who do and we also regularly have friends round and obviously I would hate for him to hurt someone else.

I just wondered if anyone else had experienced anything like this? I just don't know what to do.
 

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Ask your Vet about doing some heart 'tests'.

I know of a few dogs whose first 'symptoms' of DCM were of the dog snapping/biting, no warning growls or change in body behavior.
I was petting one of them once and just before he snapped out I did feel his body go 'tight' and I saw his eyes instantly get a slight glazed look to them. Within 2 minutes the dog was back to normal.

Lately I have heard of quite a few dogs whose thyroid levels were out of whack and it affected their usually steady temperment and some did get snappy too.

So maybe a thyroid test would be a good idea.

Very dangerous when a dogs behavior is unpredictable.

Be careful around this boy.

I hope you can get it all figured out. Hugz to you and yours.
 

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I was on the sofa with Rufus asleep beside me when he suddenly snapped and bit my leg; there was no warning growl, he just snapped out of nowhere. He didn't break the skin but it did hurt. I obviously got him off the sofa but he seemed completely oblivious to what he'd just done. I'm not sure whether maybe he snapped out in his sleep as that's what it seemed like.
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What did he do after? Did he continue? Was there growling?

I would definitely seek a vet's opinion on possibilities (thyroid, seizures) and if nothing comes up, seek a behaviorist.

For now, I'd be very safe. Maybe not let him sleep on you or sofas. Or wake him up from afar with a voice command.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
What did he do after? Did he continue? Was there growling?
Thanks for your replies. No growling at all either before of after the bite, it was literally just a snap out of the blue. He didn't hold the bite it was a snap and release straight away, it almost seems like he didn't know himself he was doing it. Afterwards he just behaved as normal, as I said it just seems so strange as there doesn't seem to be any aggression behind it, it's almost like a reflex or twitch.
 

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First of all, I'm sorry! It can be unsettling for sure when a loving and sweet dog snaps without provocation.

We've got the story on him snapping at you but...

When he snapped at Ellie what was the situation? Where was he? Where was she? What had each been doing? Time of day? I'm just wondering if there are any similarities in the situations.
 
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When he snapped at Ellie what was the situation? Where was he? Where was she? What had each been doing? Time of day? I'm just wondering if there are any similarities in the situations.
When he snapped at Ellie it was a different situation, I was in the bathroom and Rufus was sat outside. When we first got him he was extremely clingy to me, and still is although not so badly now. As Ellie walked past him he just snapped out at her. With the situation as it was then both myself and the trainer I spoke with thought it seemed as if he was guarding me having formed such a strong bond. He also snapped at Ava in a similar situation. He did however snap at our friends male lab, although again it was very soon after we had got him and we put it down to him being unsettled (I wasn't there that time)

The only time he has ever broken skin is when he caught Ellie's ear and I think that was just because ears are so delicate and bleed so easily.

I thought we were getting somewhere as over new year our friends brought their very excitable husky over and Rufus actually wrinkled his nose to warn her to leave him alone when play got to much for him. So I thought he had learnt from my girls to warn first and only bite if really pushed.

Thanks for the replies, I think I'll take him to the vet this week for some tests. I really hope it's something that can be sorted out :(
 

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Frank doesn't like his nether regions touched when he's sleeping. He will do a similar thing without the bite. You can poke, prod and grab him when he's awake but if he's sleepy, he will get up and go elsewhere. I have a feeling his rear/legs got tripped over or stepped on when he was a pup.
 

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Aggression

Safety comes first with all dogs and training. I would call the rescue and explain his behavior. They really need to know what he is doing in his new home. In my area, there is a discount for obedience classes and even personal trainers for rescues with issues. I would make sure that you protect guest and other people until you have this problem resolved. It maybe a long slow process and you have to determine the amount of time you will spend, the possible safety of keeping the dog, and the commitment you are willing to give to the dog. Many may overcome this, some may not.

I would not allow him on the couch or bed to sleep until you have answers to his aggression....especially if sleeping is a precurser to his bites.

Having health testing as suggested is a good idea, but I'd contact the rescue on suggestions and get help with a trainer today. Your safety and the safety of those around you come first! If there are injuries, word travels and other rescues may not be adopted. Get help and notify the rescue. A doberman bite can be a very serious injury. Dont let this continue without a plan and staying safe.
 

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First of all, I'm sorry! It can be unsettling for sure when a loving and sweet dog snaps without provocation.

We've got the story on him snapping at you but...

When he snapped at Ellie what was the situation? Where was he? Where was she? What had each been doing? Time of day? I'm just wondering if there are any similarities in the situations.
I was also wondering what type of snap it was, if it was in play like dogs do with eachother. Mine nips when he is really excited playing. We've gotten to recognize when he is too excited and tone down the play and so far that works well. Also, I wonder if he takes treats from the hand gently.
 

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Thanks for your replies. No growling at all either before of after the bite, it was literally just a snap out of the blue. He didn't hold the bite it was a snap and release straight away, it almost seems like he didn't know himself he was doing it. Afterwards he just behaved as normal, as I said it just seems so strange as there doesn't seem to be any aggression behind it, it's almost like a reflex or twitch.
I wonder if he could have been dreaming about a bug or thought he one on your leg?
 

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When he snapped at Ellie it was a different situation, I was in the bathroom and Rufus was sat outside. When we first got him he was extremely clingy to me, and still is although not so badly now. As Ellie walked past him he just snapped out at her. With the situation as it was then both myself and the trainer I spoke with thought it seemed as if he was guarding me having formed such a strong bond. He also snapped at Ava in a similar situation. He did however snap at our friends male lab, although again it was very soon after we had got him and we put it down to him being unsettled (I wasn't there that time)

The only time he has ever broken skin is when he caught Ellie's ear and I think that was just because ears are so delicate and bleed so easily.

I thought we were getting somewhere as over new year our friends brought their very excitable husky over and Rufus actually wrinkled his nose to warn her to leave him alone when play got to much for him. So I thought he had learnt from my girls to warn first and only bite if really pushed.

Thanks for the replies, I think I'll take him to the vet this week for some tests. I really hope it's something that can be sorted out :(
One other possibility, since he has been clingy with you, is jealousy. Had you paid attention to the kids & dog he snapped at just before?
 

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The OP hasn't been on the forum since 2012.
 
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