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My girlfriend and I adopted a rescue dog like 4-5 months ago, we don't know the breed for sure, but we think he is a Treeing Walker Coonhound based on his looks. The vet thinks he's around 5 to 7 years old and told us that he looked like he had a rough go at it, as he was malnourished, a bit mangy and has a couple small scars/bald spots, but he has been as sweet as he could be since we've had him.

We play together a lot, rough house, I made weird sounds at him, and he always loves it. Last night, we were playing and I was scratching his belly, and then I did a little raspberry type thing (like when you vibrate your lips on a baby's stomach or something like that, I hadn't heard that term before my girlfriend said it), but didn't blow hard or anything, just made a weird sound and vibrated my lips. He aggressively snapped at me when I did that, and I backed away. When I re-approached, he started growling very aggressively. The hair on his back was standing straight-up, and he was just petrified of me after that - hair was straight up and he was shaking for hours.

He is fine with my girlfriend, but so uncomfortable with me. He has taken treats out of my hand, but goes back to being very aggressive and growling after that just towards me. My girlfriend and I walked him this morning, and if I was ahead of him, he wouldn't follow me.

I've been trying to act normal today, and to kind of ignore him - not in a mean way, just a "going about my day" type of thing, and not petting him or getting super close. He still is just staring me down with this piercing suspicion. Anyone has any suggestions/thoughts? He has always slept in our bed, and did so last night, but stayed on my girlfriend's side, and I had a pillow between me and him so I wouldn't accidentally jostle him with my foot or anything.

Any thoughts? I was considering going to a behavior specialist or something like that? But I'd be curious if anyone has some thoughts or has gone through a similar experience with a dog. Will he hate me forever? He does seem a bit better today - in other words, hair isn't standing up and I'm in the same room with him without getting growls, but he still does NOT enjoy my presence.

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I would give it time. It can take a long time for a dog to built trust. For my dog it took more than a year for her to play with us at all. You probably scared him and he has no idea what you "did to him" in that moment so naturally he's not so sure if trusting you is a good idea. Ignoring him is definitely the way to. A few other suggestions:

  • Go on walks. Dogs bond through walks and going out into open space with him will make it easier for him to be close to you. If you can't put him on the leash at this point ask your girlfriend to do that or just go on walks together.
  • Be involved in feeding times. Food is a big deal to almost any dog. If you are "the source" of food he will connect you with that.
  • Do pet the dog, but only on his own terms. When the dog comes to you try to pet him if he seems comfortable. If he backs off that's fine, leave him space and don't force it onto him. I suggest petting his chin and chest rather than on the head etc., as a hand coming from above can be intimidating for him.
  • be calm, don't add excitement to the situations. For example I wouldn't try for play time until the dog trusts you again.

Overall, I think it's important to give your dog time and space. He needs to learn to trust you again and forcing anything on him won't be very helpful. He'll do it in his own pace and that can take quite a while. If the situation doesn't improve a dog trainer of some sort should be a good idea.

Edit: I just reread the question and I want to emphasize that even tho your dog "aggressively snapped" at you he probably is not aggressive in general or has aggression issues of any sort (people are fast to judge that). To my eyes your dog drew a clear line of what is ok for him and what is not. My dog shows the same behaviour when people (especially strangers) touch her in a way she doesn't like. And that's perfectly fine with me personally seeing as she backs off right after snapping and has never seriously attempted to hurt someone. Which is what your dog did as well. (At least that's the way I'm reading it.) I am aware that this is personal preference/a matter of how you want to train your dog but I will always allow my dog to voice disagreement when people touch her. It is the dog's personal space after all. (That goes for people touching the dog or similar only. Listening to me is a whole different question)

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    Thanks - yeah, the snap was aggressive, and he was aggressive with me for about 36 hours straight, but hasn't been aggressive with anyone else, and I don't consider him to be aggressive. He's a rescue who was abandoned and has some baggage, so I'm guessing something just triggered him. Fortunately, I have a relative who lives nearby so I was able to go stay with them last night so give him a breather from me. – user2928701 Aug 11 '17 at 21:29
  • That's the right way to see it. Some people are so quick to label dogs as aggressive so felt I should point that out. I hope you'll be able to regain his trust, good luck. You're doing the right thing giving him time and space. – Sambovi Aug 12 '17 at 14:19
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One thing to keep in mind is that for dogs the baring of their belly is no small thing -- it's their most vulnerable area, so they only do it with people/other animals that they trust and feel safe letting their guard slightly down with, or in the case of a dog goading someone/thing to play, when they want to show they mean no harm.

It's possible that whatever sensation you caused on your dog's stomach made them uncomfortable/unsure and you unwittingly breached that trust. If this is the case, your buddy is just going to need the time and gentle exposure to you to get past it.

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