Socialising a fear aggressive young rescue

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sourced from: https://www.reddit.com/r/Dogtraining/comments/i7mw3j/socialising_a_fear_aggressive_young_rescue/

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We adopted our male rescue dog from Romania back in June – we've had him for just two months now and he is now eight months old (we adopted him when he was six months).

In that time he's made incredible progress – he's gone from hiding under a coffee table to spending his days playing in the house, sleeping on the sofa, enjoying his walks, he's completely affectionate and carefree with my husband & I and he's doing really well with obedience training – he's even going to a weekly adolescent puppy class where he meets other dogs and owners.

Our issue we've been having with him are signs of what I think are Fear Aggression. Since his first introduction to new people, he's been very unsure of anyone that isn't my husband or I. At first when a new person came into our house, he would growl and bare teeth, or when someone got close to him on his walks (eg passed him in the street), he'd do the same. I'm not sure if it's worth noting, but he's never lunged or barked in these situations.

We've been taking it slowly and since then he's come along really well. He can tolerate people stopping to chat on our walks, is happy to sit with us in public places such as the pub (even when sharing our tables with others) and only growls and snaps if someone reaches towards him as if to touch him (obviously, we discourage this and explain to all people he's a nervous rescue and doesn't like to be approached, but every now and then it happens). In situations with people he's met a few times (my parents), we're comfortable having him off lead in the garden and he'll play with his toys and run around having fun. Once or twice when he's been playing on the floor, he has snapped at people if they walk too close to him from behind, but again it's worth noting he either does it from a distance of about a foot, or only catches coat tails – he's not made skin contact. These snaps are not accompanied by growls, barks or lunges, and after he's snapped he trots away and carries on with whatever he's doing. We know now to completely avoid other people walking over/around him and to keep him on lead in situations where people will be moving about. He's started to become more inquisitive and has a good sniff of people but definitely isn't ready to be touched by them.

Anyway, I know it's extremely early days with him and although he's continuing to make progress week on week, I just wondered if anyone had experienced anything similar and could offer advice, or even success stories, of dogs like this? I want to do as much as I can in the early days to help him hopefully catch up on some missed vital socialisation.

As a side note, he's not yet been castrated – I wonder if this is something we should do? A behaviourist suggested to wait until he's at least 9 months (currently 8 months old) to let his hormones settle.

Thanks in advance!

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