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Looking for Advice - Biting Male. . .

3407 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  barrel browner
Hello, I am new here and I am desperate for any advice, good or bad.

My family and I are the owners of a 6yo male V, neutered. He is very much dad's dog and responds well to me and even my 12yo daughter, not so much my wife. When we got Max we had 1 child (she was 6 at the time). Since that time we have had 2 other children and he has had no problem adjusting to their presence and sleeps with my 5yo boy on a nightly basis. Max goes everywhere with us as we camp quite frequently. We have a nice yard for him to roam, a 8x12 kennel when we are out of the house for a short period of time. I have worked very briefly on hunting training. We don't get out as much as he or I would like, but when we do he's fine. Once he blows off some energy instinct takes over and he does well.

May 2008 - I was out of town on a 2week business trip. Max was in our yard and we have plenty of neighbor kids that run through and around the yard all hours of the day. My son was out with his friends without supervision. I don't know how it happened but my neighbors son ended up with a bite on his rear end and it did break the skin. My wife took max to the vet that afternoon to make sure he was up on his shots. Max did need a booster and he then bit the vet in the process of receiving the shot. It was a pretty vicious bite and traumatized my wife.
July 2009 - While camping a group full of neighbors came by our campsite to socialize. Max was on his leash, but had gotten tangled up around a picnic table in all the excitement of company coming to visit. A friend of the family (complete stranger to Max) attempted to free max and reached at Max's neck to undo the leash and untangle him without me around. Max did bite this individual and it did require stitches on one finger to seal the wound.
August 2009 - Just this past weekend while out camping with friends at their cabin Max had another incident. While visiting this site (we've stayed here 3 times in the past 2 years, not a completely unfamiliar place) Max is generally un leashed as are all the dogs in the area. The neighbor dogs (Mini Shelties I think) would come into "Max's" territory without incident. The first time the owner came over and asked if Max was "friendly". I stated that he is with dogs that he knows, but since he didn't know these dogs I thought he should probably get them out of our hosts yard. However, it eventually happened where I was out of reach when the dogs came back the 3rd time. We were down on the beach enjoying the lake with our 3 kids and our friends 2 children, Max by my side or in the water fetching a stick. Max did not appreciate this and responded violently. One of the shelties had to have stitches to close the wound on his rump.

I do not know where to go from here. I feel as though I may have failed Max as an owner. He is a very good dog and loves his family and his family loves him. However, his biting has become a liability and I am growing more and more cautious of bringing him places with us. These incidents cause my wife and I a great deal of stress and we need to watch Max very closely while out.

Has anyone else faced a similar situation?
Is euthanasia the only option?
Is Max a candidate for adoption to an owner who could better handle these situations?
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How do you feel about a muzzle when he is out ?
Muzzle is on my mind. I fell OK about it, but not so sure how others would view it, seeing a dog with a muzzle in the neighborhood.
I personally do not care if I see a dog with a muzzle. If he's muzzled he's less likely to get his teeth on somebody.
You don't want it to get worse.
Maybe he is being over protective, maybe some more socializing with car of course.

Good luck.
This sounds like fear biting to me. Of course, without knowing the details regarding your neighbors boy, it's hard to say, but it is possible (and likely) that a young child can induce fear in a a dog due to rough-housing, erratic kid behavior etc (not blaming the victim here, just theorizing). The nip on the butt would be a good indicator for this as well. That carries over to the incident with the other dog. The two bites on the adults are classic fear bites.

I would definitely look into a muzzle, then try to identify situations where the dog displays fear (tucked tail, ears back etc). When you recognize them, let them pass, leash and muzzle up, then slowly try to duplicate the situation(s), while being mindful that you MUST correct the fear behavior and that the dog knows it is unacceptable. One trick for doing this before a physical correction is necessary is yawning at the thing that is causing the reaction.

I would also consult with a trainer that is well-versed in dog behavior, particularly aggression. It can be fixed, and I don't think euthanasia is necessary, but I'm not a professional.

Good luck and keep us up to date with Max!
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Please accept this post for what it is, and that is a similar story.
I had a high powered male Vizsla in the 80's, an incredible hunting dog, and just the best all around companion dog a person has a right to ask for. At about 5 years old he changed and started to get pretty aggressive with strangers and dogs, biting, snapping, etc. I couldn't figure it out. I contacted the breeder multiple times to see if any of the other puppies from his litter were exhibiting the same symptoms, after awhile he got "better" and I thought it was just a phase. When it started up again he also wasn't eating right,so off to the Vet he went. The end result was that inspite of yearly blood tests and full exams, and all boosters and shots, He had contracted a Tick borne illness that wasn't picked up on the lyme titers until it was too late.

Right now we're going through something similar with a 16hh Thoroughbred. Until a few months ago a 4 year old child could safely handle him, not so much lately though. He's getting a lot better now since he's been on antibiotics for a few weeks. He tested borderline low on the lyme titer test

Get you're guy to a vet for a full blood work up, looking specifically for tick borne illnesses if you haven't already done so.
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Thank you all! Very good information, just what I was looking for. I will keep you posted on the outcome. I am going to call our vet for some advice and to look at setting up an appointment for bloodwork.
Update -

I have spoken to the Vet and he recomended Obedience class first and bloodwork second. He said that Thyroid conditions can cause temperment problems, but there are a couple other symptoms missing that would suggest Thyroid problems. Also, there are more Tick borne illnesses that can be linked to temperment. I am going to talk it over with Mom (my wife ;) ) and see what our next step will be.
good luck lets hope its just a blip and you will come through it with some great advice to other V owners who are experiencing similar problems.
all the best
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