Jump to content
BC Boards
Sign in to follow this  
worriedmom

Help! My dog bit me!

Recommended Posts

My 2-yr old spayed female bit me today while I had her on my lap and was petting her. I had been petting her for several minutes when this happened. She started snarling and growling at me and I told her to stop and she bit me on the hand, breaking the skin (and barely missing my face). She did not seem to mind the attention prior to this behavior. She has also started growling at me at night when I put her in her room. I don't know what to do. I have several children and although she has not bitten them I do not want to put them in jeopardy. Until recently she has been a good dog and I have had a good relationship with her. Help!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When the dog started growling and snarling, did you back off whatever you were doing? Usually growling, snarling, barking is the way the dog says "Stop it! I don't like that!" and that is your warning to find out what is making the dog unhappy.

 

When my dog growls at me, usually it is because she is unhappy or confused or irritated. Usually if I can figure out what is making her upset, I can desensitize her a little bit at a time, using food or her favorite toy to reward her for the calm behavior I want.

 

Sometimes Tess will growl or snarl at me over something I think is ridiculous, but it is important to *her* so I have to respect that and try to train her accordingly by rewarding for calm behavior or tolerance of the loathed activity (like being rubbed dry with a towel). It is slow going, but definitely better than being bitten.

 

I sure hope someone besides me posts on this thread.

 

Allie & Tess

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With our two growling and snarling at me are not acceptable at all under normal circumstances. Could your dog possibly be ill? Ear Infection, something hurting her. I would check with the vet and find out, especially if this in not normal behavior for her.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

She has also started growling at me at night when I put her in her room

 

HI with that statement i understand.. one of my bc is 5 years old.. and once we have done the evening routine.. he is down for the night. and will growl at anyone in the family who wants to pet or play with him.. now this is 9pm at nite and he has gone full blast all day too.Also he is usually sleeping or almost asleep at the time.As well as gone to his sleeping area.

 

As far as the biting.. i would make sure there isnt anything wrong with the dog? sore ear neck or something to cause the pain.Also did a child walk up towards you durning this time?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad to know I am not alone...I was by myself with her in the room when it happened...she also made a second attempt early evening with kids in the room, but I seem to be her target and not my kids or husband (for which I'm extremely thankful). I will make an appt with her vet to rule out any illness (she seems fine but maybe it's not something obvious). I am trying to avoid putting myself in situations where I cannot back away from her and give her space if need be, but I also can't be afraid of her. I'm encouraged a bit since she did come to me since the last incident and we interacted without any problems. Thanks for your help and suggestions!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How long have you had this dog? In the past has there ever been any other fearful or aggressive behavior? This sounds serious; be careful!

 

charlie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No matter what others may have experienced, do NOT think it's normal for a dog to snarl, growl, or bite at a person. Sorry guys, this should not be an accepted behavior. You're doing the right thing by taking her to the vet. I'd also suggest consulting a local trainer and/or behaviorist to help you with this serious problem.

 

-Laura

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have had her since she was 8 weeks old. She has exhibited a strong herding behavior towards my children but has never hurt them. With other dogs she comes on strong and tends to scare them away by trying to be too friendly. She plays with a neighbor's cat without incident. I'm just at a loss to figure out why this behavior is occuring now, and why towards just me, her primary caregiver.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First, any dog that has a sudden change in temperament should be examined by a vet and at least a thyroid panel run.

 

Also, your dog, at two years old, is not a puppy anymore but getting to be a serious adult and expecting to be treated like that and evidently demanding it.

 

Are you sure that she knows her place in the pack and there have not been signs lately that she was asserting herself more and more?

As many people find out, once their dog is grown, the dog may change and become a different dog than the happy-go-lucky one so many are as puppies.

That is when all the previous work training a dog pays of, as the rules and limits have been established beforehand.

 

Since your situation is serious and may get someone hurt if not handled carefully, to ask your vet for advice and maybe have a veterinary or trainer experienced with agression check the situation over, like it has been suggested, would seem the safest way to proceed.

 

Hopefully it will be a simple case of a sore spot or such that can be resolved easily.

Even so, she should not have been in a position to needing, having or wanting to defend herself like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi there

Is this your first BC? I ask because BC body language can be quite a bit different from "regular dog" body language, and it's possible your dog has been warning you for a while that she thinks it's her job to tell YOU what to do, not the other way around, and you just missed it because her signals don't look the same as another dog's might. The thing about growling at you when you put her in her room is a red flag for me, and my definition for a dominance-agressive dog includes "will bite the owner".

 

That said, though, BCs are the bossy-boots of the dog world, and it may just be that she's unclear about what her job in your house is and who's telling who what to do. As a control freak (which most BCs are to some degree :rolleyes: - after all, they're bred to control stock), she may in part just be using her inclination to control things inappropriately. Hence, I would first take her to the vet to see if there is a health problem (an excellent suggestion from a number of posters) and if not, do a behavior consult with a veterinary behaviorist (another excellent suggestion made by several here).

 

Very importantly, I would second the caution of other posters in saying be careful not to get bitten while you are figuring this out. If retraining is in order, I'd suggest you get the input of the behaviorist before you start - they should be able to give you protocols for deference (the dog deferring to YOU, I mean, not the other way around! :D ) which would not involve confrontations that would allow a bite to occur. There are a zillion ways to get a dog to defer to you without directly confronting it, which tell the dog in subtle but unmistakable ways that YOU run the show, thanks, and your leadership is strong and competent and can be trusted, so it is not necessary for the dog to try to run the show, nor will such a course be successful or tolerated.

 

Good luck with this, and I wouldn't wait on it - the sooner you get this behavior under control, the better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You might start by not letting her sit in your lap and 'herd' your kids. :rolleyes:

I will not tell you what I would do because it would ignite a firestorm. In any case, as many have pointed out in response to my previous diatribes, you'd just end up getting bitten for real.

Get someone to describe the NILIF system to you, maybe that will help.

[Above premised on no physcial problem (not that I would allow a dog that excuse, but anyway.)]

A.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing you can do to "put her back in her place" just a bit, is put her on ignore. You'd be surprised at how many things that we find endearing and cute are actually attempts to dominate, from walking in front of us to nudging our hands for a cuddle.

 

My female is especially good at this, so good that I actually consulted with a behavorist to work through some inter-dog aggression that seemed to have no reason that I could discern.

 

One of the first things he asked us to do, was not to pet or cuddle them for 4-5 days and to basically ignore all their advances. It was hard, very hard actually, but I saw an immediate and big change in the whole pack dynamic.

 

Whatever route you choose, just don't let this go as it will only worsen.

 

Good luck and I hope you keep us updated.

 

Maria

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had to laugh at your post Andrea. I started to post and express my opinion about what to do when a dog growls at me for any reason and thought better of it too.

 

Kevin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My BC/GSD-X Bailey growled at me once when he was about 5 months old. The operative word in that sentence is "once". I immediately taught him a lesson about what happens if he growls at me. (Hint: a section of the kitchen floor ended up cleaner and the back of his neck ended up dirtier.) For him it was a learning experience that he didn't care to repeat because he has not growled at me since (8 months later). Once was enough for him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hector is dead-on here. If one of my dogs growled at me they'd be pinned to the floor with me breathing down the muzzle before the growl ended.

 

You probably have not established yourself as Alpha, but need to do so in a hurry if you don't want this to become a problem.

 

PR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! Thanks for all the suggestions! I did take her to the vet today and everything checked out physically. The vet (a bc owner herself) said something must have happened to trigger a dominance issue, but I am at a loss as to what. There's been no change in our household. She suggested a behaviorist, but I have done a preliminary check and it is around $500, which is $$$ I don't have right now. As the problem has continued (although I have not been bitten)to some degree, has anyone found a book or another way to do it yourself? I know that is not ideal, but it is better than having to give my dog up and I am willing to give it my best shot. To answer one question - I grew up with a bc, although not the same as actually owning one yourself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You might want to check out the agbeh yahoo group...they've really helped me w/ my dog's dog aggression a lot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found the agbeh group to be useless for addressing problems of human aggression, although they discuss dog-dog aggression a lot. The type of moderation and level of anality on that list also drive me batty. But, to each her own.

 

To worriedmom, I really don't think this is an issue that can be solved over the Internet or in a do-it-yourself fashion. I would also strongly counsel against physical confrontations, particularly since you have already been bitten. Putting a dog that lifted a lip at you on the ground is one thing (although personally I would not do this), but tackling a dog who has already shown itself willing to bite you is, in my opinion, just asking to get hurt, badly, unless you are VERY good at reading dog behavior and VERY fast -- and even then, I'd question the utility or efficacy of this approach. I am not faster than a Border Collie. When dogs get into fights with each other, they are invariably much faster and more skilled at reading and dodging each other than I could ever be, and they still get bitten.

 

One of my dogs is fear aggressive, and he has never growled at or threatened me, with one minor exception. That was when he was due a bath, and didn't want to get into the tub. He came when called, sat in front of me, and said, in a tiny voice, "gr?" I looked him in the eye, asked him what the heck that was was all about in a firm manner, and he apologetically turned and jumped into the tub full of water. I have never tackled this dog nor laid a hand on him to discipline him beyond grasping his scruff gently to get his attention on rare occasions. I don't think you have to develop wrestling skills to have a good relationship with your dog. With my particular dog, I am dead sure that if I had employed strong physical discipline, I would have been badly bitten by now because he would not trust me. Since he trusts me, I can do anything with and to him and he accepts any kind of handling easily.

 

I cannot more strongly suggest getting in-person help with this problem. You may find a behaviorist who is able to do a phone consult or a video consult (you fill out a detailed history and send video of the problem behavior) and that would probably be cheaper, but in the end not as useful. If you can find a good trainer who is skilled at dealing with aggression issues that may also be cheaper and still effective, but trainers who advertise their ability to deal with aggressive dogs vary widely in quality and methods. The fact that this behavior seems to be sudden onset and that you cannot identify consistent triggers (can you?) is worrisome and I would consider a second opinion from another vet. At any rate, I very much believe that if you love this dog and want to make things better, a good behaviorist is the way to go. I'm not sure that there's a time or place for half-measures, when you have already been bitten and there are children in the house.

 

That said, Jean Donaldson and Patricia McConnell are good authors to read if you want to understand more about canine motivation; they also address aggression. Without understanding the reasons why your dog is doing what she's doing, it is impossible in my opinion to recommend a specific course of action, because the appropriate course of action depends on the reasons why the aggression is occurring. I'm not willing to try and give you advice that may get you or someone else badly bitten.

 

Good luck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Multiple posters have advised Worriedmom to get in-person professional counseling, but the cost of that appears to be prohibitive. As an alternative would some phone counseling by an expert dog-behaviourist be useful? It is hard to fully explore a complex situation by means of BB posts. Perhaps a few phone discussions would be beneficial to Worriedmom, if she and an expert are open to that approach. If there are no qualified experts on this BB, perhaps someone knows of an expert who would be willing to donate some phone time. Just a thought.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Melanie,

There is no indication this dog is fear aggressive.

Not every dog is Solo.

Not every person can afford to go to a behaviourist.

Give her something practical she can do.

A.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Leader of the Pack" is a short inexpensive book by Nancy Baer and Steve Duno. It explains how to take back the leadership position in subtle positive ways that are simple to implement. I also attended a seminar by her last year and she suggested that for dogs with serious leadership issues that you do a "three day cleansing". You basically ignore the dog, attending to their basic doggie needs such as feeding and pottying, in a nonchalant way. Don't be unkind, but don't pay any more attention to them than what is required to get the job done. (even if it means crating them away for awhile) If it takes less than three days for them to be begging for your attention that's fine. At that point you start with the idea of NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free). If you do a search on these boards, there is a link somewhere.

 

Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

worriedmom,

 

Where do you live? Perhaps someone on the boards knows someone local they can refer you to for some in-person help that won't cost $500 (wow! that's outrageous!). If it is a dominance problem, many trainers have had success dealing with this and there might be one locally. I would also do an internet search, as was suggested, on the "Nothing in life is free" (NILIF) attitude-adjustment program and follow it. Ask questions about it here if you don't understand it, as I'm sure plenty of people here have used it before. Some people have also used "Ruff Love" with success...a book available through any dog book source (I know www.cleanrun.com carries it, www.dogwise.com may also). It's a more strict NILIF program, but the book details every step.

 

In the meantime, if you're hesitant around this dog, and no one blames you for being so since you were bitten already, whenever you work with the dog, put her on leash (yes in the house too). That will help put you back in control. Also, use of a head halter (Gentle Leader works best) will give you further control. Follow the instructions that come with the head halter for introducing her to it; having her wear it 48-72 hours straight will help her accept it. I would also suggest crating her when you are not present and 100% supervision around your kids as well.

 

Keep a written log of the circumstances of each and every time she ever bit or growled at another person. This will help you identify her triggers so you can work through them.

 

I'm sure some will disagree with my suggestions, which is fine. Many people here could nip this problem almost instantly by letting the dog know in no uncertain terms that that behavior is NOT allowed. Yes, all that works, but you have to understand what you're doing and be confident enough to do it swiftly and purposefully. Most importantly, no one here wants you to get bit again, so what I suggested is a more careful approach. yes, it'll take a bit longer to re-establish yourself as the boss, but it may be worth not getting bit. And since this problem has already developed, expect it to get worse unless you take action now.

 

-laura

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another really great book is by Brenda Aloff. It is called Agression in Dogs....title has more parts but you can find it at www.dogwise.com or other type site. This book is very easy to follow. Ms. Aloff is based in Midland Michigan and will do phone consults. And her rates are well well well under $100!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jennifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dogs are pack animals and until worriedmom establishes clearly to this dog that she is the leader of the pack the problem will continue.

 

It seems to me that some of the advice given on this thread is backwards. First people suggested checking for something physical, then for something behavioural.

 

The best way to eliminate the physical cause was to establish that it is, in-fact, something behavioural. And the best way to do that is to let this dog know - RIGHT NOW - that you are the leader and if she steps out of line there are serious consequences.

 

You can talk to your dog, go to a behaviorist, and worry about some physical cause all you want. Until you establish a solid pecking order all you are doing is wasting time and money.

 

The little so-and-so needs to understand that she is at the bottom of the household totem pole.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...