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Thread: Bit by a dog - not sure what to do now

  1. #1
    Elite Member GRuser1's Avatar
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    Default Bit by a dog - not sure what to do now

    So... a few months ago I broke up with my partner of 15 years and now I am temporarily living at my parents' place while I sort out my finances and stuff. (Hopefully, this won't last long. They are awesome, but I need my space).
    Anyway - they have a fairly big dog, mixed breed, rescued, that they didn't train very well. He is an anxious dog, to begin with, and they spoiled him to the point he rules the house.

    A couple of days ago, I got close to him while he was sitting on his bed (he wasn't asleep) and when he started to look nervous I decided to see if I could get close and calm him down - but it didn't work.
    I know he is possessive and I know this was totally my mistake - though I think this type of behaviour should have been corrected years ago with good training.

    The problem is that now I am incredibly anxious around the dog and afraid to get closer to him.
    On a rational level, I know I shouldn't. He is still the same dog as before, and the more nervous I am around him, the worse this will be. But I can't just tell myself "stop being anxious" and magic my fear away.

    So... if anyone ever even comes to this section of the forums... any tips?

    Note that my father especially is as nervous and as grumpy as the dog is and he is an extremely unreasonable person, so telling him "Let's get a professional try to re-train the dog" won't work. I have tried before when I noticed things were not being handled very well.

  2. #2
    czb
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    Elite Member czb's Avatar
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    In your post you did not say when the dog bit you. Was it when you tried to calm him? Did the bite break skin?
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    No advice regarding dog training, but be really careful with puncture wounds from animals if that bite broke the skin. Teeth can drive bacteria deep into the skin where the wound is not easily cleaned. If you haven't already gotten medical attention, definitely do if that shows any sign of getting worse.
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  4. #4
    Elite Member Nevan's Avatar
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    How old is the dog? What breed (even if mixed)? A lot of times, older dogs cannot be retrained from a behavior that has gone unchecked for a long time. You can go to a trainer (if having a trainer come to your house is undoable) and have them teach you how to handle dogs, but it's not as effective if the dog isn't also being trained. If it's impossible to get any chance of training with him, I would take notice when he gets upset. Some dogs are food aggressive. Some are aggressive about their "den". My two rescue dogs are spoiled too but they know better than to show aggression to humans. I had one purebred dog that was highly trained ... sweetest dog ever and loved everyone, but god forbid you walked up to him with a baseball hat on, he'd go ballistic. We had had him since he was 7 weeks old and I don't remember any incidents with him regarding baseball hats. Those kind of aggressive/fear driven traits are much harder to retrain out of them.
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    Bronze Member Banshee's Avatar
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    For a dog who is nervous with people, having one force themselves upon him in his safe place (his bed) isn’t comforting, it’s pushing him over his threshold to where he doesn’t feel that he has options. So, respect his signals- recognize when he wants space and give it and work on building his comfort with you.

    You want to build trust and with dogs being the bringer/giver of good things goes a long way. Ask your parents if you can be the one who feeds him. Dogs love the feeder! When you walk past his bed when he’s on it, drop a treat and keep going. Go along when your parents walk him until he’s comfortable with you there and then ask if you can walk him without them. Dogs love the walker as much as the feeder!

    If that goes well, start working on simple training with him- googling positive reinforcement training will get you plenty of videos to watch. Training is great not because it really matters overall if the dog knows how to give paw, but because it is a way the dog and the person communicate and dogs love knowing what is wanted from them and it teaches them to look to you for what to do.

    Good luck!

  6. #6
    Elite Member Novice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banshee View Post
    For a dog who is nervous with people, having one force themselves upon him in his safe place (his bed) isn’t comforting, it’s pushing him over his threshold to where he doesn’t feel that he has options. So, respect his signals- recognize when he wants space and give it and work on building his comfort with you.
    Totally!

    And has this been my house & my dog I would have probably told you that I didn’t blame the dog.

    Dogs pick up on feelings & stress so he will know that you are stressed (by the whole split & $ thing) but won’t know why & this will make him (more) edgy.
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  7. #7
    Elite Member lindsaywhit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banshee View Post
    For a dog who is nervous with people, having one force themselves upon him in his safe place (his bed) isn’t comforting, it’s pushing him over his threshold to where he doesn’t feel that he has options. So, respect his signals- recognize when he wants space and give it and work on building his comfort with you.

    You want to build trust and with dogs being the bringer/giver of good things goes a long way. Ask your parents if you can be the one who feeds him. Dogs love the feeder! When you walk past his bed when he’s on it, drop a treat and keep going. Go along when your parents walk him until he’s comfortable with you there and then ask if you can walk him without them. Dogs love the walker as much as the feeder!

    If that goes well, start working on simple training with him- googling positive reinforcement training will get you plenty of videos to watch. Training is great not because it really matters overall if the dog knows how to give paw, but because it is a way the dog and the person communicate and dogs love knowing what is wanted from them and it teaches them to look to you for what to do.

    Good luck!
    This is great and practical advice.
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  8. #8
    Bronze Member Banshee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lindsaywhit View Post
    This is great and practical advice.

    In real life I run an animal shelter- we spend a lot of time helping folks help dogs!

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    Thank you for your work and time with animals.
    See, Whores, we are good for something. Love, Florida
    #fingersinthebootyassbitch

  10. #10
    Bronze Member Banshee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SHELLEE View Post
    Thank you for your work and time with animals.
    Nah, I have the best job there is! I’m lucky to get to do it everyday.

  11. #11
    Elite Member GRuser1's Avatar
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    Hi everyone,

    sorry for only going back to this thread now. I have been away from home and didn't have my laptop with me, so I couldn't reply sooner.
    I appreciate all the great advice and the time you have taken to look into this.

    I definitely do not blame the dog - it was my fault for ignoring his nervousness, though when he bit me I was trying to calm him down (it didn't work, clearly).

    The dog is of mixed breed, picked up from a shelter that regularly takes puppies away from horrible situations (so he might have been abused prior to being adopted by my parents). He is very anxious in general and very protective of his territory. He is now 6 years old.

    My parents are not capable of hurting a fly (literally, it's the type of family where insects get taken outside, never killed), so the dog has never been hit or dealt with using brute force since he is with my parents - which is definitely good in my book, though my father is too soft hearted to even punish him non violently when he misbehaves.

    I can work on building trust with the dog. Right now I am trying to get over the fact that I am scared of him, and I find the advice you sent me here extremely helpful! It's time to always keep some treats in pockets so I can use them for positive reinforcement.

    What I can't do, unfortunately, is ask for my parents cooperation: the dog is spoilt rotten, especially by my father who basically lets the dog control him.
    (Also, my father is very nervous around the dog or when the dog is around other people, and the dog picks up his anxiety).

    My mother had tried working with a trainer in the past, but anything they did to improve the situation has been undone by my father's attitude.
    My father isn't a bad person, but he is completely unreasonable and does not talk (he has two "modes": silent and angry) so he's a bit of a lost cause when it comes to working on his behaviour and his way of handling the dog.

    Re: the wound wasn't really deep, thankfully - he only punctured the topmost layer of skin, so very low risk of infection and tetanus (against which I had been vaccinated as a kit, but I never had all of the required follow up vaccines, so I am at slight risk from deep wounds).
    Most of the pain came from the pressure of his jaws on my muscles and that has gone now too.
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