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My dog bites.... Can anyone help?

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Vicki356, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. Vicki356

    Vicki356 PetForums Newbie

    Jan 24, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Hi everyone,

    I hope that someone here can help. I have 2 dogs, a cavalier kc spaniel and a golden cocker spaniel. The cavvy is nearly 4 and the cocker nearly 3. They have both been brilliant... Apart from the cockers nervousness, which has slowly been getting better.

    Anyway, this latest and most serious problem is my cocker. He has started biting. The last straw was just now. He was sat on the sofa with me and my husband bent down to give him a stroke and he bit him on the back of the head, for no apparent reason! He doesn't seem to bite hard, it seems to be more of a warning and more noise than anything. However I do have a 3 year old daughter and can't risk having an aggressive dog! I have no idea what to do and need some advise straight away! I hope someone can help!


  2. fluffybunny2001

    fluffybunny2001 PetForums VIP

    Feb 8, 2008
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    1st thing get him checked by a vet,he could have an underlying medical condition.Tyroid problems can cause sudden aggression.
    Make sure he has no acess to you child at any time until this problem is sorted.
    There is a well known condition with cockers,especially golden ones called rage syndrome.May be worth reading up on it.Obviously i`m not a professional so you will need to contact a good behaviourist.
  3. Vicki356

    Vicki356 PetForums Newbie

    Jan 24, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Yes, I have already read up on rage. I don't think he has that, it's not unpredictable like rage is and he definately doesn't appear confused after. More scared of what he has done. I recently made the move of moving them to sleeping in the kitchen with a stair gate, I was sick of the smell of dog lingering in my living room. It seems to have started since then. Could this be related? And having him no where near my daughter goes without saying.

    I'll get him down to the vets though as I have never heard of dogs having a thyroid problem. I'll get that looked into.

    Thanks for the advise!
  4. leashedForLife

    Nov 1, 2009
    Likes Received:
    hypothyroid [too-low thyroid hormones] is very common, known to affect dozens of breeds,
    & CAN affect any dog of any breed or mix - It's just more-frequent in some, compared to others.

    be sure U don't let the vet convince U to "save money" by skipping some portion of the panel,
    nor let the vet tell U that they can analyze the results just as well, & again save U money -
    it's not an accurate statement, in either case. The panel needs to be a full 5-way [possibly 6-way],
    testing T3 & T4 in both bound & free forms, plus TSH: Thyroid Stimulating-hormone,
    & possibly ANA: an Anti-Nuclear Antibody test - as well.

    the BOUND & FREE forms are floor to ceiling measures: U need both to get an answer.
    so Free T3 & T4, Bound T3 & T4, TSH, + maybe ANA... those are the tests.

    a 5-way panel won't do U any good if the analysis is not accurate -
    i recommend that anyone who wants solid answers send the blood-sample to Michigan State University,
    & their vet-labs will read the tests - they have the world's largest database of breed-specific thyroid values,
    it's no use comparing a Boxer to a Beagle, or a BullMastiff to a Boerbel - they're not the same.

    if it's read as borderline LOW, be prepared to ask Ur vet about a short course of low-dose
    thyroid supplement - a few weeks of taking it will show the difference, if the behavior issues improve,
    or go away altogether, that's the ticket. :thumbsup: Thyroid-supps are lifelong, once they're needed,
    but also once the dose is determined, they're blessedly cheap! :wink: Thank heaven for that.
  5. leashedForLife

    Nov 1, 2009
    Likes Received:
    OK, back up a bit, Vicki - let's parse this very carefully. Dogs don't bite for NO reason - there's a reason;
    it may not be human-logic, but there's a valid DOG-reason, we just have to figure out what it was.

    Ur Cocker is a blonde dog, yes? This is called buff, & yes, it's one of the colors that CAN show 'rage',
    as it's a dilute of red - pied dogs are rarely affected, nor are black dogs, only red or buff are usually affected
    by 'rage'. However, as U note, Ur dog doesn't seem "dazed", isn't lethargic afterward, etc - so that doesn't
    sound typical - 'Rage' is often associated with a focal-seizure pattern, & the dog's behavior can be helped
    with medication in that case. It's possible that Ur dog is affected, but the symptoms don't seem a good fit.

    let's go over the precedents: What came BEFORE the bite -
    U were sitting on the sofa; the dog was where, in relation to U? Beside U, with U in a corner,
    and the dog nearer the middle? Beside U, with U near the middle & the dog in the corner?
    On Ur lap? Some other position?

    Both U & the dog were on the sofa before Ur hubby approached - Yes?
    Hubby comes over, speaks to U perhaps, speaks to the dog, bends over the dog, & his hand
    comes up to lower onto the dog to stroke him -

    bending over the dog is called "looming", & is a very-common trigger for a fearful dog to bite.
    U have already said that this dog has been nervous or timid since he arrived, altho he's better than he was;
    SCARED DOGS are more-likely to bite than the genuinely very-rare 'confident, aggressive' dog -
    that classic 'dominant' dog, which BTW is a mislabeling. A confident dog will rarely bite, they will signal
    their intention to bite very clearly, & expect the other individual to back-off & then they need not bite.
    spooky dogs are often living on pins & needles, don't have time to signal their intention except minimally,
    & 'go off' on a hair-trigger; it's not their fault, AND IT CAN BE IMPROVED.

    to go back to Hubby - he has bent-over to pet the dog; Did he pet the dog's head, body, shoulder, or chest?
    petting the dog's HEAD is for some reason, a human-favorite - it's the least favorite point for the dog:
    they can't see what that hand is doing, it's way-too close to the classic "grab the collar" maneuver often
    used for punishing a dog, especially as pups during housetraining or in their chewing stage, so it's a point
    of tension & past bad-experience, & it's not comfy unless we are very conscious that their skull
    is thinly covered by tight skin - there's no padding, & if we 'pat' as opposed to 'pet', we thump
    their head uncomfortably... Stroking firmly on the dog's head WHILE supporting their chin with
    the other hand, can be very nice - Pat, Pat, Pat,... on their brain-case unsupported is not nice! :eek:
    [it feels good to US - not to the dog.]

    petting the shoulder is another potentially-loaded area: Close to that doggone collar, can't see the hand,
    can't be sure of intentions [friendly? angry?...], & shoulders are where dogs T-stand to act bossy -
    or put their paws on another dog to be bossy, & so on.

    petting the dog's CHEST is the least-threatening place:
    the dog can see the hand clearly, it's a soothing place to rub or pet firmly, it's well-padded with muscle,
    & they can avoid the contact by ducking, or WARN by air-snapping [no contact], growl, freeze, etc.

    U also mention Noise: what noise did the dog make?
    a growl, a growl-bark [one segues into the other], a snarl, a sharp bark, a yelp?
    what was it?

    and last, U note that they dog's sound & snap both appear to be WARNINGS -
    this is very significant, as dogs have exquisite control over their teeth, pressure, direction,
    contact or no contact, etc; if he meant to hurt Ur hubby, he WOULD have.
    if there was no blood, he did not mean to hurt, but to get some distance.

    dogs use air-snaps or light-contact bites to ask others to "move away!" If he was scared & felt crowded,
    that's a legitimate reason to bite. Humans don't like the idea of justified bites, but they exist.

    a justified bite is one where the dog had good reason to bite: Pain, fear, threat to one's pups,
    threat to one's people or property, turf-wars [intruders], teasing, feeling trapped, are all valid -
    the vet will not commiserate with U when U report in indignant tones thart YOUR DOG bit U,
    when U tried to separate the dogs in a dog-fight, pick-up Ur dog after they'd been hurt, or in other
    high-stress, crisis situations - instead, the vet will wonder why the H*** U thought the dog could be
    picked-up after being run over by the body of a truck! Even if s/he is not hurt, they've just been
    scared witless, & are not acting or feeling like themselves, at the moment.

    to get back to hubby & the Cocker - What happened afterward?
    did the dog hop off the sofa & flee, hide under the bed, crawl behind U, flatten to the sofa,
    cringe, duck & blink, stand-up & growl while staring at hubby?... What?

    What did hubby do?
    Yelp in surprise, curse, yell at the dog, yell at U, feel wounded & sulk, what?

    What did You do?
    Scream in fright, gasp, smack the dog's butt, push him off the sofa, carry him to his crate, what?

    Where was the child at the time? In the room, in another room, on the sofa, not at home, asleep?

    if U answer my questions, i think we can come up with a B-mod program for the dog AND the hubby,
    AND the child, AND U... which will allow the dog to be much-happier & less scared, & to keep his home.
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