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worriedmom

Help! My dog bit me!

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But suggesting a physical confrontation between the dog and an owner who is clearly less than confident at this point is not the best advice. Sorry, but it's not.

 

Worriedmom, I've met behaviorists that charge much less than $500.00 so ask around, talk to your vet and maybe there's one less expensive. Call you local dog clubs, maybe someone can help walk you through the first steps.

 

I'm agreeing with the poster who said to ignore them for three days, tend to their needs but that's it, no petting, no fun, no cuddles, no time at all for your dog to assert her dominance. Attach a long lead to her collar and let her wear it around the house (supervised of course). If she does anything you don't want her to do, a swift jerk on the lead and then back to ignore. Do not get into a confrontation with the dog.

 

It's not easy, at least it wasn't for me as I love to cuddle with my dogs, but it really was effective.

 

Maria

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Just a personal note pertaining to issues I had with Oreo. He began nipping and trying to push my daughter and me around (no issues at all with my husband). One night he trapped me while I was barefoot in our kitchen (nipping, barking, charging). It was THE low point in our relationship - I thought we would have to give him up.

 

I began two things. Our house is too small for a crate but we have an unchewable 6' lead that we use to put him in tie-down. It's time out for him, he can't wander at will and he is in a bedroom totally ignored. He got the idea very quickly.

 

The other thing I did was go back to feeding him by hand. Every meal, every piece of kibble came from my hand. I also made him work for his food by having him "sit", "flat", "leave it" etc. Again he got the idea very quickly that I was the person in control of the food, and thus the person in control of him.

 

As to behavioralists, the place where we train and do agility is run by behavioralists. Their consulting fees run about $150 / hour and worth every bit. They observe the interactions of dog and owner and pick up on things that we can't see because we are in the midst of it.

 

Maybe all dogs are like this to some degree, but Oreo picked up on VERY subtle cues that I wasn't even aware I was giving. For example, while training him to "flat" I began rather unconsciously to raise one eyebrow when he didn't comply right away. I finally realized that he waited for the eyebrow lift before obeying.

 

Good luck! BCs are very smart and I think will learn the rules quickly once you establish what they are.

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I'm sorry, and I'm not trying to be contentious, but I have to disagree that the best way to prove that a dog does not have a physical problem is to prove that it DOES have a behavioral problem. Quite commonly "behaviors" ARISE FROM a physical problem, so addressing the behavior only leaves the root of the problem - a physical issue - unaddressed and unresovled. The classic example is urinating inappropriately in the face of a UTI or urinary incontinence - punishing the dog for the urination does not get rid of the UTI or the incontinence - nor will it get rid of the behavior. If a behavior has its source in a physical problem, it can't really be resolved until the physical problem is resolved. Hence the suggestion to make sure there's not a physical reason.

 

Granted this dog does not have a UTI - but suppose there was a pain issue, a brain dysfunction issue, a seizure issue, a sepsis issue, a metabolic issue (etc etc ad infinitum)? Punishing the behavior will not resolve those, and in my opinion would not be appropriate. To me the problem on the face of it looked like it WAS behavioral - but I can't see the dog, so I'm not going to rule out a physical cause until someone who CAN see the dog has had a look.

 

I know this is not part of most people's experience, but I've seen some SEVERE bites to owners who physically confronted their own dog for biting - one woman has a divot in her forearm that is (I kid you not) three inches wide, 7 inches long and at least an inch deep - not surprisingly, having lost a large portion of the muscle there, she will never have normal use of her hand. It looks like a shark bit her, but it was her own beloved dog, unfortunatley.) This is why I suggested a behaviorist - in order to get a plan to establish an appropriate hierarchy without risking life and limb (well, at least limb). I'll agree that in the absence of a physical cause it would appear that the dog believes it is her right to direct the humans around her and that that is entirely inappropriate and needs to be corrected - but I don't agree that you prove that the problem is behavioral by correcting the dog, and I think someone else pointed out that BCs are FAST - much faster than most of us. They can lay your skin open in a flash. Myself, I'd rather not take the risk. JMO, of course.

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Oh, yeah - and part of the point of a behaviorist is to shake out whether this is strictly a dominance issue, or if there's (for example) a fear issue as well, etc. The protocols for different types of agression are different, and applying them incorrectly can be harmful and perhaps dangerous. Just a BTW, which I forgot to mention in the prior post (sorry! haven't had coffee yet).

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I think the OP should write down all of these suggestions because they are all good. However, none of them are going to do anyone any good until the OP has a sense of pack order, where her place is, where the dog's place is and how it comes together in the dynamics of her "pack"---otherwise, each of the suggestions given here would be like the the components of a recipe--all separate and possibly doomed for failure unless you know why you're doing what you're doing. You have to have a sense, an idea of the end result, the overall picture of what what you're trying to achieve when you're applying any of these methods, something beyond the immediate need to take care of the behavior, otherwise, life becomes just a series of disjointed interactions, good or bad.

 

Some people just have a natural interaction with dogs, some don't.

 

Good books exist for the OP to take advantage of, but with the problem at the stage that it is, I would also recommend outside intervention, someone who could point out to her other ways of doing things & make her conscious of her own behavior.

 

It's time for a crash course in dog behavior 101 here.

 

BTW, I wouldn't pussyfoot around with a dog that tried to take a hunk out of me, or one of my kids. I'll psychoanalyze the dog after I've dealt a well-timed correction for attempting to use it's teeth on me or my kids---but psychoanalyze, I will, so that it would never happen again.

 

 

Vicki

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When I read these kind of threads, here and elsewhere, I'm always left shaking my head. It's as if trying to rule out a physical problem or treating a behavioral issue without strong physical corrections is somehow taking the easy way out. It's not, it's far more difficult to work within the boundaries of their mind than to smack them once and think that you've solved a problem you may not even be able to identify...beyond he growled at me!

 

Maria

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Funny you should mention that Vicki, one of the local training centers here is now offering a workshop in "Dog Behavior 101". I hope the public takes advantage of that.

I agree some people just instinctively know how to handle a dog, where others need to actually think about it. I always laugh when people ask me how I "trained" this or "trained" that...then *I* have to sit and think about it, because it just happened along the way. LOL I never had to train my girl Casey (now waiting at the bridge) ... seemed like she would just read my mind. More than a few people noticed that about us as well. Makes me miss her even more.

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Originally posted by worriedmom:

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.

Without making assumptions as to the cause of the behavior in each of these instances, I would suggest that for the time being, she not be allowed lap priveleges, and that when it is bed time, entice her into her room using something irresistible, or have her on leash in the house and guide her into her room with the leash. This will hopefully keep you out of harm's way while you look into correcting the behavior using the approach that you are most comfortable with using.

 

Some questions:

 

When you put her in her room at night, do you make physical contact with her?

 

When you took her to the vet, how deeply did they look? Did you explain the reason you were having her checked? Did they do any bloodwork, or was it just a physical exam?

 

Now to make some assumptions! :rolleyes:

 

Assuming that you have had bloodwork done and it is determined that your dog is not suffering from any infections, organ dysfunction, hypothyroidism, brain tumors, hormonal imbalances, or other illness that could cause pain and/or grouchiness or behavioral changes, both of these instances seem to me, to focus around control.

 

In the first instance, keep in mind that having her on your lap and petting her may very well be sending her messages in doggy language that you are showing appeasement or submissive behaviors toward her. This would make it acceptable from a doggy point of view (Note: I'm not in any way saying this is acceptable behavior!) for her highness to let you know when she is done being fawned over, and if you don't stop, to punish you accordingly.

 

In the second instance, her highness does not deign to go to her place of social isolation, and according to her higher rank in the social heirarcy, is communicating her wishes to you.

 

I agree with the others that since she is willing to inflict damage, you might want to avoid confrontational methods, unless being bitten is your cup of tea.

 

NILIF is a good start, but you'll probably need to go a bit further, since this dog has proven that she is willing to bite you. I think it would be to your benefit to check out some of the books recommended in this thread.

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Andrea,

 

I didn't say I thought this dog was fear aggressive. I only mentioned my experience to illustrate that there are times when physical corrections are extremely inappropriate and unnecessary, and that it is NOT normal, excusable, or inevitable for a dog with "issues" to be biting the hand that feeds her.

 

The fact is that given the information we have, I don't see how anyone can say what this dog's problem actually is. I do agree that there is something seriously wrong with the poster's relationship with her dog, but I can't tell what it is or where it came from (this is why behaviorists and trainers who deal with serious aggression problems take detailed patient histories) and therefore, I didn't have any specific advice to give -- that would be like trying to give someone step-by-step instructions to build some piece of furniture without knowing what kind of furniture she wanted to build. And when you're dealing with a dog who has already landed a fairly serious bite (going after her owner, breaking skin) I think it's best to rely on advice from people who can actually see what is going on.

 

However, after reading the other posts I have to agree that instituting an NILIF program should be the first step. I'm not a big fan of Susan Garrett's Ruff Love in its original context, because it's basically about putting a dog in boot camp to make him a better sport dog and I feel that, frankly, if you have to keep a dog in a gulag to get him to do agility, it might be a better idea to forget about agility and do something the dog actually enjoys. But, for a dog who needs a major attitude adjustment it seems quite appropriate. Patricia McConnell's booklet "How to be the Leader of the Pack" is excellent as well -- actually, I prefer it. It does provide a sort of cookbook approach that is easy to understand and implement.

 

Any behavior modification program should start with this sort of thing (Solo's behaviorist calls it the "protocol for deference") because it teaches the dog to defer to the owner at all times, and puts a rule structure in place so the dog has a better understanding of how to behave. This is the sort of thing that some people do automatically and understand innately, and that others of us have to learn.

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I agree that McConnel's small book on being the leader is good, but we found that there is a lot more detail on how to teach the dog that s/he doesn't need to worry about being responsible for the pack in Jan Fennell's book the Dog Listener--she uses a lot of similar strategies found in the books that have already been suggested, but she also has a 30-day step-by-step guide. She also describes situations much like the one worriedmom describes (sweet dog suddenly starts acting aggressive, etc.)

 

We've been using her approach with our dogs (14 week old BC pup and 3 year old Jack Russel/spaniel mix) with great success--especially with the older dog who had lots of resource guarding issues that are slowly starting to abate as he (seems to) understand that he doesn't need to be in charge or worry about taking care of the pack--he's even stopped barking at the post carrier!

 

We are on a flyball team and a number of our teammates have also had good success with the Fennell book.

 

 

good luck!

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Whew! There's a lot of food for thought! I am still looking into outside help. I have ordered some of the suggested books. I will check out the websites noted. I have tried several of the suggestions to ignore my dog and guess what? I have not been growled or snarled at for two days now. Mackenzie really, really, really doesn't like for me to ignore her. She's very much looking for recognition from me. It's very, very hard to do, as several of you have noted. I know it is not the complete answer, as I need to find out why it happened and reestablish my dominance, and I will be working on that on all possible fronts and will keep y'all posted. Thanks to all of your for your suggestions and concern - I have been really touched by all the help.

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Wow, that's a lot to "chew on". Sorry for the bad pun. Basically, the biting must stop NOW. Whatever means suggested above, there may not be time to read a book, though if Jazz took a chunk out of me or worse, the wife, I would have to use one of those books for the immediate response, then actually read it to find how to modify his behavior for the long term... :rolleyes:

 

Jazz actually snapped at me when he picked up something I thought he might choke on, and proceeded to take it out his mouth, mind you it was an almost playful kind of "snap", nevertheless, against how we trained him to be, let's say, cooperative. I just grabbed him by the loose fur/skin on either side of what would be human cheeks (yes, on the face), pulled him real close to my face, and in the gruffest marine corps growl I could muster, let him know that his "snap" was uncool.

 

That was in November or so, after he'd just turned a year and the cutie hasn't had to have that behavior modified again.

 

Jazz's pal and occasional behavior modifier,

Kevin

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