Hey guys, I'm new here and starting to have a few problems with my dog that I can't seem to fix. I've looked into getting a trainer, but unfortunately just seem to be too far from any.
Anyway the background info: Rogue is a 2yr old koolie cross heeler who I've had since he was 8 weeks. For about 4 months after I got him, I couldn't even touch him because he'd just keep biting. I tried encouraging him towards toys, I tried putting him in a time-out to calm him down, I tried squirting him with water, I tried handling him with gloves, I tried smacking his nose, I tried to teach him to 'kiss'.... nothing seemed work and I used to have to wear long sleeves because my arms were pretty shredded up. On top of that he was a massive resource guarder, so I did what I've always done with pups - sat with him every meal, dropping a treats into his bowl so he'd know that hands near his food = more food. I also used to pat him, and things without ever touching his food and within 2 weeks he'd completely stopped that and I never had another problem with that. He was also enrolled into 2 puppy preschool classes and he was really good at them - really gentle with small dogs, a bit more rambunctious towards the bigger dogs but nothing sinister, just 2 pups playing. When I wanted his attention he would give it to me wholly and he wasn't distracted by much.
Fast forward 4 months. He'd settled down a little bit and I was beginning to handle him a bit more. He'd still bite, but it was getting less. He was now in a sort of junior obedience class, getting used to sitting, heeling, staying, laying down etc around other dogs. He'd also had his first go on sheep and did really well - everyone was amazed at how well he could stay, stop and come to me.
Another year passes, we moved towns and started at another obedience club when one day he gets attacked by two maremma's. I take him to the vets and he gets some painkillers and anti-inflammatories, then 2 weeks later requires a course of antibiotics for an abscess that's developed on his back leg. That heals up and all good. Come to obedience and suddenly he's more wary of other dogs. He stands really tall and still if they approach, and his hackles go up but he doesn't do anything. Then one day he lunges at another dog so I pull him back quickly with a 'leave' command. From then on he's reacted negatively to any dog that walks straight up to him. The people at obedience have told me to really pull back hard and sharp on his lead as soon as he even looks like heckling another dog, but it doesn't seem to be working. I've also tried rewarding for no reaction, and it works to a certain extent... as long as he knows I have food on me. He is still really good in his obedience classes (in intermediate now and can sit, drop, stand, heel and do off-lead stays and recalls) but as soon as another dog is right in his face he just snaps.
He also went for my dad, my cousins 3yr old daughter, my cousin and my boss when he's had food and they've gone too close to him. He's still never tried it with me since he was a puppy, but it only takes one serious bite for their to be trouble. I really don't know where I've gone wrong with him, I don't know if I do too much with him, or too little, or maybe the food change or.... I have no idea, it's giving me a headache just thinking about where I've gone wrong This dog is my whole life and I'll never give up on him. Just the thought of losing him makes me so upset and angry at myself that I'm not doing something I should be doing, or doing something that I shouldn't be doing.
Anyway, sorry for the whole sob story, I'm just at a loss and there's not a lot of places I can take him when I leave in such a small rural area. Any help, or ideas would be greatly appreciated.