Welcome to PetForums

Join thousands of other pet owners and pet lovers on the UK's most popular and friendly pet community and discussion forum.

Sign Up

Help - my 3 year old labrador just bit someone...

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by hannah141, Aug 18, 2018.


  1. hannah141

    hannah141 PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2018
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    1
    I'm completely shocked and confused.
    My 3 year old Labrador has just bitten someone we know in the village having never shown aggressive behaviour before.

    He runs around outside a lot during the day (in a very excitable manner, he's an overgrown puppy) and we have a gate at the bottom of the drive that is set back from the road. When we're around, we invite people to say hi to Archie through the gate with cheers of 'oh he's fine, he's just very excited and over friendly, he just wants to play.' This again happened today and when the person came to the gate, Archie's tail stopped wagging, and then a very quick growl and a bite. It took a fair chunk off the knuckles which makes me think that he approached with a fist. I didn't see this but this is a report from my Dad who was there.

    It is very out of character for Archie and we're shocked and upset that this has happened. We're not worried about liability or anything like that - my first reaction to this kind of thing is not oh God we're going to get sued but, is the victim OK, and what the hell do we do about our dog and prevent this from happening again?

    1. There was a short growl before the bite. This means it was not a misjudgment/accident by an overkeen dog that still behaves a bit like a puppy
    2. He's has never shown aggression before
    3. He was not shouted at at the time because Dad was just in complete shock and attending to the victim so Archie has gone unpunished. Any telling off now would be unassociated.
    4. The visitor did not approach in any kind of threatening manner - we can't work out why he lashed out like this.

    I guess my question is, what the hell do we do now? Is this a blip? Or do we have to take measures because our dog has had a fundamental change in behaviour?
     
  2. kimthecat

    kimthecat PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Messages:
    15,755
    Likes Received:
    19,710
    I'm sorry this happened . It must have been very upsetting for you all and the person who got bitten .
    Its good your dad didn't shout or punish him . It's sounds like Archie felt the need to defend himself .

    To be on the safe side I would stop people from approaching him over the gate . You need to prevent this happening again .
    You were lucky the victim didn't report it to the police.
    Do you have 3 rd party insurance for him ?
     
    #2 kimthecat, Aug 18, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2018
  3. lullabydream

    lullabydream PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2013
    Messages:
    14,788
    Likes Received:
    22,376
    Unless a fist as been used in a way to hurt Archie to be honest he shouldn't find it threatening. Yes humans find this threatening it's our perception but not dogs unless shown otherwise and as you say the man approached no different to others.

    From now on it would be wise to not let Archie have free reign like this in this area and not let people approach him. Just say he's contagious.

    If you have been continuously inviting people over to him it might be that he's not actually that happy about it and today warning growl back away the man still stood there and so he went to bite. There would have been subtle signs previously before on interactions but they must have been missed.

    I know you say you are not worried about liability but you should be. Archie actually has broken the law so people can and some do complain. Putting in plans now to prevent it happening again will look favourable.

    On walks I would also advise to muzzle training him. It's a good idea for most dogs anyway. Then start walking him with the muzzle so if you end up walking close by another person he doesn't suddenly lash out because he feels overwhelmed again
     
    Burrowzig, Sarah H, lorilu and 3 others like this.
  4. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    23,399
    Likes Received:
    34,023
    Definitely don’t punish a dog for growling or biting as that will make things worse.

    Sounds like Archie has been exposed to strangers/situations which have made him anxious and his signals have been missed.

    As suggested, protect him from these interactions and work to desensitise him to the things that set him off with distance and praise/rewards.

    Don’t give him access to the front gate/fence.

    Getting him happy in a muzzle (careful training is required) would also be advisable and not letting him off in public because if he is reported and/or it happens again you and he will be in serious trouble.
     
  5. Jamesgoeswalkies

    Jamesgoeswalkies PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 8, 2014
    Messages:
    4,980
    Likes Received:
    12,155
    I would think it's probably this to be honest. I certainly wouldn't invite random strangers to pet my Labs or any of my dogs 'through the gate'. I can't see why my dogs would need or want this. I suspect there have been occasions in the past where your dog has felt his space 'invaded' by people leaning over and maybe this man just didn't look or smell right or came in too fast or whatever.

    In actuality it doesn't really matter why but it is something that will from now have to be controlled.


    As an owner of Labs I don;t do the 'overgrown puppy thing'. Mine are great with people and dogs and by three years old they are maturing and no longer 'overgrown puppies'. Maybe work on his training and exercise routine and also his ability to calm down, as over arousal can also be a reason for this sudden behaviour.

    J
     
  6. hannah141

    hannah141 PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2018
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    1
    Sorry, by not being worried about liability, I meant that it wasn't my top priority in the fact that I was more mortified about my dog's behaviour, and the health of the poor man that was bitten. If it were to happen then I would respectfully follow it through - I take full responsibility for it but when reading other forums it seems to be the first thing people think of - omg my dog bit someone, am I going to get sued for damages as if that's what matters the most! As dog owners, we hold the responsibility for this not to happen.

    I think we're going to have to put a sizeable sign on the gate telling people not to approach him.

    The fist was presented to him as we are all taught to as children so as not to get fingers nibbled. Ironic. It was not an aggressive move at all, quite the opposite.

    I think this is seeming more and more likely. It's the problem with trying to apply human logic to animal behaviour. It could have been something as simple as 'didn't smell right'. Something wasn't right and something upset him.

    Thank you so much for your advice everyone.
     
    Jamesgoeswalkies likes this.
  7. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    23,399
    Likes Received:
    34,023
    Putting a sign up won’t necessarily stop people touching him over the fence - it might even encourage some idiots.

    But it might suggest that you know your dog is “dangerous” which could leave you and him open to being dealt with under Dog Law if someone complains he bit them (or scared them). The wording could be important. Being in his own garden will not be his defence.

    He now “has history”.

    The only sensible thing is to prevent him accessing the gate and fence.
     
    #7 Lurcherlad, Aug 18, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018
    Burrowzig, Twiggy, Sarah H and 2 others like this.
  8. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2009
    Messages:
    17,804
    Likes Received:
    13,529
    I am not sure I agree that signs make you more liable. I think they show that you are taking some care but if you have been encouraging people to fuss him you are now going to have to make sure that he cannot reach the gate.

    I have some friends that have a lab that runs loose so to get to the door you have to go through the gate. My husband had a nasty bite from it and they swore it was always friendly. I went there for the first time with it running loose and went to open the gate and that dog was not going to let me in. It really meant business. They are still convinced it is friendly and it certainly is if one of them is around but no way would I attempt to open the gate, it would have had my hand off before I could have got the catch undone. I think it can be easy not to notice what signs your dog is giving off and then be surprised when it does bite.
     
    Jamesgoeswalkies likes this.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice