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Biting behaviour

July 4th, 2006, 03:30 PM
I dont have any experience with dog aggression/biting behaviour issues, but as many of you are very knowledgable on this, wondered if I might ask your opinions.

A friend of mine noticed her neighbours' 3 dogs were running loose. The owner wasnt home, her cleaning ladies had allowed the dogs to become free though an open garage door.

She sent her teenage son out to round them up, which he did without incident. Returning them to their back yard, he noticed they had knocked over the garbage can, but when he reached down to pick it up, one dog rushed and attacked without warning, severely biting him in the hand a number of times.

The owner was naturally extremely upset about this incident.
The dog, a 9-year old Golden lab has previously bitten her own young adult son, leaving scarring on his hand. This was also related to the garbage cans, which he has some fixation with. He apparently also has guarding issues with anything dropped.. which now become "his", and has frequently shown aggression with snarling, baring teeth, etc.

He is otherwise a friendly dog.

I dont know what measures, if any, were taken to correct his behaviour, but the owner is now planning on having him put down.

She feels the risk/liabiltiy issues are just too great, that no rescue would take on a dog known to be a repeat biter, and that there is no other recourse now that he's done it again.

Couldnt there still be a chance for rehabilitiation?
As this aggression/guarding reaction has seemingly been left unchecked all this time... is it too late now that he's a mature dog of nine?

Dog biting is serious business, and can have tragic results.. but it seems so sad that he is paying the ultimate price for his improper handling/training, and for issues of containment.:sad:

But, as she no longer wants to keep him.. what could be done?:confused:

July 4th, 2006, 09:34 PM
It really pains me to say this but the dog sounds dangerous and I doubt there is anything you can do. The only possibilities I can think of are (1) to place the dog with a trainer who works with aggressive dogs, or (2) to find the dog a new home in a remote location where there are no kids and the adults understand that the dog is a biter.

July 4th, 2006, 11:13 PM
I've seen a golden retriever like that. He passed through adolescence KNOWING he was stronger and bigger than his owners (he won every challenge). He started biting because of being possessive of anything he could get his teeth on- garbage on the ground, the park water dish, everything. After a while, this twit kept coming to the park even though he had no control and his dog was pretty dangerous to the other dogs and the kids around. So a few of us decided to take care of the situation to protect ourselves and the dogs in the park.

Maybe because we were all women (he was used to men) and we just didn't stand down, we got him to be less possessive. He just needed a really good alpha dog. I think he never bit any of us because he just didn't know what we were capable of but he had bitten his owner a few times...

Anyway, my point is, being that the sons were sort of similar, it's possible that the dog just feels superior to people of that genre. If it's only guys of that age that can't touch the garbage bins, but everybody else is ok in the same situation, maybe going to obedience with a guy that age would help.

Then again, the dog we were working with was still young, so there was still a lot of hope that with the right owner/right training, he'd be ok, but the one you're talking about isn't too young... But then I've never thought you can't teach an old dog new tricks...

July 5th, 2006, 12:25 AM
I'm in the "See a behaviourist/ trainer who is well-versed in resource guarding issues" camp given that the dog is otherwise well-behaved and friendly. It seems a shame to kill a dog like that without at least trying rehabilitation and training.

July 5th, 2006, 12:39 AM
What commonly goes into a garbage can is food waste,
is he usually food possessive? , can the garbage can to a difference location. Is he Neutered? Was the other bite fairly recent? Is this a change is behaviour from when he was younger, if so a vet visit is in order to check him over completely including vision loss, geriatic bloodwork, especially noting changes in T4
Training can be done at any age

Because he has 2 bites under his belt, I would reccommend seeking out someone who is an animal behaviourist as well(not just a trainer)

I have been looking for some in BC not sure how close to you they are

This one would be the best of the two she has a degree in Behavioral Medicine / Health Psychology

If these are too far check with the person in the links to see if they know somebody closer they would recommend, other resources to find one is the vet or humane society.

July 5th, 2006, 07:18 AM
While waiting for the behaviourist, I would also suggest following Jean Donaldson's protocol in the book "Mine" .

Management is also paramount here:

access to the garbage cans must stop immediately. I would also consider a basket muzzle for safety's sake.

July 5th, 2006, 02:42 PM
Thanks for your input in this issue. I will forward this info to my friend.

She wanted to offer some suggestions to her neighbour that might provide hope for a solution to this dog's issues. The owner is going through a bitter divorce, and is pretty taxed stress-wise. This biting incident is more than she wanted to deal with, but hopefully she will consider and pursue other alternatives before such a sad and drastic step as euthanasia.:sad:

OG, thanks so much for those locating those referrals on behaviourists.
I should have been more clear - my friend is not in BC, but actually now lives in N.J.
That is a great idea though, checking with the local vets and local humane society can direct her to qualifed people in her location.

Sometimes, there can be no happy resolution to such issues.. but it would be an awful thing to later regret, if you felt any avenues were left unexplored.
My feeling in this case is that there still are some open.

Thanks again for your thoughts and ideas.

July 5th, 2006, 04:46 PM
A behaviourist will also be able to tell the owners if the problem is resolvable or not, sadly some dogs just are not wired correctly as I had learned myself, but at least having a medical and behavioural assessment done on my dog Hobie did conclude that there was nothing I could do to fix him, so when I helped him crossed the bridge I was not left with doubts or left worry whether I was making a mistake or not, so it made it a little easier to bear.

July 17th, 2006, 09:43 PM
Just to give you an update on this... the dog was put down last week.:sad:

The vet could find no medical reason that might account for its behaviour.
This is actually the third biting incident, not the second. The owner felt she would never be able to trust the dog again, and didnt have confidence that any type of behaviour training would eliminate the risk it posed, both to others and to themselves.

This is a very sad conclusion for all involved. I'm sure the owner is heartbroken, and my friend also hoped the dog could be spared euthanasia.

Her young son didnt suffer any nerve damage to his hand at least - he's had a lot to contend with in recent times. A near-fatal workplace accident left him with facial paralysis, and blind in one eye. (why he didnt see the dog rushing him)

July 17th, 2006, 09:59 PM
:( :sad: Certainly a sad ending.