My dog has now bit my mom and my grandfather. I'm overwhelmed and I don't know what to do.
posted by whalebreath to Pets & Animals (133 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
My dog just bit my mom on the face, drawing blood. This is the second time he's drawn blood, although he's jumped at people's faces many, many times. He's a 2 year old Boxer mix who I love so much, and can be such a sweet dog, but I feel totally overwhelmed and at a loss for what to do with him.
He's a really well-behaved dog, otherwise. He's sweet and really well trained. His two issues center around being protective: protective of me and protective of food. I've worked with him A LOT to try to reduce his aggression, but it just seems to be getting worse.
The most terrifying thing that ever happened was when I was camping with my girlfriend on a sparsely-populated island, her and I and our two dogs. We were feeling a little nervous because we weren't camping in the designated camping spot on the island (it was a soccer field), but chose somewhere secluded where we thought no one would come upon us.
Then, as we were building a fire, a man appeared out of the woods. My dog lost it at the man. He was jumping at his hands and face and snapping and growling. After screaming I ran over and pulled my dog away, completely shook up. The man was yelling that my dog had tried to bite him (I don't know if my dog succeeded - the man was wearing gloves and a coat and stormed off before I could get information from him). After that happened I felt like I couldn't handle my dog's aggressiveness - a bunch of other minor incidents had already happened, and I felt out of my league.
I hired a behaviourist, who seemed optimistic about my dog's chances for recovery. She was impressed with the level of training I had done with him, and thought that as long as I was careful that nothing else major should happen.
But then I went to my grandpa's cabin, which is on a (mostly) deserted island. My dog knew my grandpa and had acted fine around him. I had my dog on leash because I was now too scared to let him off leash, even out on the island. I was helping my grandpa unload the boat. I had my back to my grandpa, and my grandpa reached his arm out to touch me...to balance on my shoulder or something. My dog leapt up and bit my grandpa on the arm, drawing blood. My grandpa was furious and I was terrified. My grandpa banned my dog from ever coming back to the island, which was a hugely devastating (but understandable) turn of events for me. That island is everything to me and I wait all year for our family trips out there. That was last summer.
I figured that these two incidents meant my dog was not good around strange men and strange situations, and started being very careful about that. I also knew he was bad around food and around children, and so was careful about that as well (I'll list those incidences below). I was certain, however, that my dog would never hurt me or my mom, who he lives with. My mom is like, 95 lbs and he loves her to death. So just now, I was cooking his dinner. I was at the counter taking bones out of the salmon, and my mom came into the kitchen. Her and I and the dog were all standing in close, but not snug, proximity to the kitchen counter, although she wasn't looking at the salmon or even in arm's reach of it. He leapt up at her face and bit her on the cheek, drawing blood through two puncture wounds. This scared the hell out of both of us. She no longer feels comfortable around him now since he has showed he is capable of biting her. She's upset that she feels terrified in her own home.
These are not the only aggressive incidents he has had. I will list them now, in chronological order:
-As a puppy, he was very mouthy. He would bite my girlfriend's nose a lot. We really worked to try to remedy this behaviour, reading a lot and trying different techniques (although never alpha rolls or anything like that), and he mostly grew out of it, but still jumps at people's faces. He is always sternly reprimanded, although never physically punished, for this behaviour.
-When he was a puppy he was often around a kid we babysat, so we thought he was alright around kids. Then one day, he was tied on to a coffee shop terrace where my girlfriend and I were having coffee. He was chewing on a bone. A toddler, two year old girl, was kind of playing around him (we should have intervened at this point - naive and inexperienced). He suddenly lunged and snapped at her face. Her father scooped her up immediately and for an agonizing five minutes, while her face was buried in her father's shirt, we had no idea the extent of the damage he had done. Turns out he hadn't made skin contact as far as we could tell.
-He went through some resource guarding (showing aggression when you get too near precious bones, etc.), although never with me, only with my roommates. We all worked together to fix this by having people approach him and give him treats while he had a precious object. Just throwing them at him at first, and gradually approaching closer and closer over time. He seemed to resolve most of his resource guarding, but would still jump at people's faces the odd time. For example :
-I was reading the ingredients on the back of his treats to my cousin (trying to convince him to eat one...), and my dog jumped and snapped at my cousin's face.
-Or, his bone was in his crate, and he was waiting to get in his crate. My roommate's girlfriend got close to crate, he jumped and snapped.
-My friend was feeding him carrots, and another friend was sitting in a chair, nowhere near the carrots. He lunged at her face as she was just sitting in the chair!
-A kid was throwing treats at him from a distance (behaviorist suggested this). He lunged and snapped at the kid, but didn't reach because he was restrained by a leash at a distance.
-A friend dropped a piece of cauliflower on the ground, went to get it, he jumped and snapped.
-My mom's friend was petting the dog, they seemed to be getting along, suddenly the dog jumped and snapped several times at the friend's face (there was no food in this equation, which worried me, because usually there is food or 'threat').
Okay I got out of chronological order here, because it's mixed up in my mind as well. But the attacking the woods-man came before biting my grandpa came before biting my mom.
My mom is crying now, wondering where she will live because she feels too scared to be in the house with him. She says she hates that this happened because they were getting along so well.
I just don't know what to do anymore. I've trained him as much as I can - he listens to me completely and I don't know how else I could curb his aggression. I've stopped giving him bones or things that make him snap, I've stopped letting him around children, I warn strangers if they want to pet him, but I can't stop feeding him! I can't keep him away from my mom if we live in the same house.
It's probably relevant that he has hip dysplasia. I'm not sure how much pain he is in, but that could be contributing to his aggressive impulses. He is on metacam daily, is fed a homemade diet, gets plenty of exercise each day, and seems to mostly not be too bothered by his hips. I definitely can't afford the 5000$ surgery in another province so that's not a solution.
I'm worried too because I want to start a family in the next little while. I want babies and a house full of guests and children. When I got this dog I was so SO certain that I would be committed to him for life. I was completely dedicated to raising a happy healthy dog, I did my homework, and I feel hopeless now that things have gotten this bad. I love him immensely, but if I knew there was a home that would take him where he would be happy, I would give him to them. I just feel so scared for the future and for what might lie ahead since he just seems to be getting bolder/worse, even though in daily life he just keeps getting better - more well behaved and chill. But nobody is going to want a dog with aggression issues and hip dysplasia. I can't give him to a shelter - I just wouldn't do it. I couldn't even leave him at the kennel the one time I tried. The other thing is I can't leave him with anybody because of his issues - if I had a trusted friend who could take care of him while I went to my dad's for christmas (he's not allowed in any of my family's homes after the grandpa thing), then I feel like I could somehow resign myself to him having a restricted but still good life. But I can't leave him with anyone, can't go anywhere at Christmas, can't go to the island. And the one person who could take care of him, my mom, doesn't even want to be in the same room with him anymore.
Can I get through this? Do you think he'll get better or worse as he ages, since I know that age 2 can be a difficult time?
Any insight or advice will be clung to for dear life.