The dog in the OP did not come from a loving family. She was abandoned in a park and the people we got her from had taken her in. It was a woman and her teenaged daughter. They were trying to find a family for her because they're not home much and they're not supposed to have a dog where they live.
The dog is great with women. She is very protective of them and of children. However, she feels threatened when approached from behind or when crowded. She lunged and snarled at every man that passed us during walks. She acted similarly to women in business suits. She snapped at an 9ish year old boy who tried to pet her on her back. She nipped at my children if they pet her on the back. She didn't bite them, it was very much a warning though.
She does have a lot of great traits. She's very eager to please, at the dog park was awesome about protecting her sheep (us) from the other dogs until she'd determined they weren't a threat. She walks well on a leash as long as there aren't any strangers around. She plays well with other dogs after she relaxes around them. She was interested in our cat but not obsessively and she didn't chase him or try to get him at all. She would be an awesome dog for a woman without small children. The nipping and rear end defensiveness had me wary. My 3 boys are all 5 and under so it's harder for them to understand that they shouldn't pet her back because she feels threatened and nips if they do.
I am not an inexperienced dog owner. I'm not going to go buy some puppy from a pet store and expect it to be a perfect angel. I am very much aware of the amount of training, patience and effort is required. It's one of the reasons I'd much rather adopt a 2-3 year old dog that's past all that. However, having just dealt with a dog who showed signs of previous abuse in her various fear reactions, I do worry about that. Having small children, it would be pretty naive of me not to. Yes, training can help. Of course there's no guarantee with any dog that it will have a great temper. But training a puppy, socializing it well, raising it with my children so that it has positive associations with being handled by them rather than fearful reactions seems to me will have a much better chance of fitting in well with our family.
I am still exploring options for a rescue dog. We've been actively visiting shelters since October with plans of getting a dog since March. This is not an impulsive decision. I'm not expecting to find a dog that's already perfectly trained and well behaved else it wouldn't have been surrendered in the first place. I'm fully prepared to handle housebreaking, obedience, manners, etc. However, fearful aggression is not something I want to take a chance with around my 5 year old, 3 year old and 1 year old.
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Aidan, Ryan and Damon
1 cat - Hansel
and looking for a dog to join our family