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Dog had 'red mist' moment and bit DH, AIBU to think that with training this won't happen again?

(198 Posts)
Antalya1 Tue 26-Nov-13 23:03:44

We are a family with DS17 & DS20. About 4 weeks ago we got a rescue dog, he's about 2 ish and a cross between a shitsu and a yorkshire terrier we think. He's a little thing and has been an absolute joy and has brought a lovely new dynamic to our family.

As I was at home more of less for the first 3 weeks the dog has bonded with me and then next I suppose with DS20, we both have spent a lot of time playing and just generally being loving with him.
DS17 is indifferent and DH has been pretty loving also. We all take responsibility for feeding and walks.

As he was so shy and frightened when we first got him, we allowed him into our bed and he's just sort of stayed there.

When I'm working from home, he cuddles up and spends the day with me.

Over the last 10 days or so, the dog has been growling sometimes at DH, especially when DH comes near me, tries to stroke him, or DH tries to get in bed.

This evening I was sat in bed doing some work and DH came up to the bedroom, the dog started growling at DH so I told DH to pick him up and put him out of the room until he stopped. DH picked him up and the growling got much worse and the dog seemed as though he was going to bite DH, so DH dropped him, the dog sprang at DH and seemed to have a 'red mist' moment, jumping up and bit him, breaking the skin 4 times on his legs and stomach.

We were all really shocked. DH is OK and has been to be checked out but is really shaken and upset and talking about getting rid of the dog.

I'm devasteted, first that the dog who is incredibly loving mostly would do this to DH and also really frightened that DH will insist that we take the dog to a dog and cats home.

I've been in tears tonight thinking about this but I know that if there's a chance that he would do this again then there would be no choice. I've persuaded DH to wait until I can get in touch with a dog behavioural expert tomorrow and I'm pinning my hopes that there is something that they can do...AIBU to think about keeping my dog and that there is something we can do to stop this happening again?

Sokmonsta Tue 26-Nov-13 23:10:57

I think the dog reacted to being dropped.

That said, I am not and never will be a dog person. My feeling is a dog who could do that to someone he knows, could easily react negatively to something out of your control and bite a stranger.

By all means see a dog trainer. But please accept that what they do may not work and if your dog bites again, I'd seriously reconsider.

Finney2 Tue 26-Nov-13 23:14:35

Your H was the one that was bitten. If he is shaken and upset and wants the dog to go, then he should have a veto over it, I think. I wouldn't want to live with an animal that had hurt me like that, training or no training.

That said, I'm not a dog person. I place the safety of people way above the safety of dogs and for tha reason I'd never have a dog in my house to start with.

lougle Tue 26-Nov-13 23:16:55

If the dog was growling at your DH, why did you say (and why did your DH) to pick him up and put him out of the room?

Your DH was some sort of threat to the dog. He was telling you that. So your reaction was to unnerve the dog even more by making the person who was threatening him pick him up.

lougle Tue 26-Nov-13 23:18:19

I notice you have 3 adult males and a female (you) in your family. It's quite a big ask to expect a dog to bond with 4 adults in 4 weeks, IMO.

fluffaduck Tue 26-Nov-13 23:19:58

Oh dear. Your dog has a few fixable issues I think.
The biggest is that he now sees himself as the top dog. Hence the attack on your husband. Your dog sees you has his and he is the alpha male therefore will ward off anyone who tries to take your attention.
You need to re-establish boundaries and start treating your dog like a dog. Or it will get worse.

Keep the dog off furniture and beds. That's where the people/alpha (DH) sits. Keep the dog on the floor.
When you or anyone else come in the house ensure you greet DH first and the dog last.
Every time the dog growls or bares his teeth remove him and put him in the kitchen. He will learn this behaviour only leads to him being lonely.

Dogs need boundaries, they are pack animals and need the correct hierarchy to function in a family.

Training will help but only if you are strict with it at home aswell as in the classes.

Hope all goes well smile

DeepThought Tue 26-Nov-13 23:20:26

yes lougle has it

the dog was warning of being uncomfortable and you told your DH to do the one thing that would trigger the dog

I don't think you know dog behaviour very well, dog training might well be useful for you but in the meantime, get the dog out of your bed, get a crate for it to have as a refuge/safe place and be prepared for your Dh to issue an ultimatum

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 26-Nov-13 23:20:34

When you say the dog broke the skin 4 times, do you mean he bit once and four teeth punctured or this was a sustained incident and the dog bit him hard enough to break the skin 4 or more times? The second would really worry me.

lougle Tue 26-Nov-13 23:21:57

I don't think the dog was being alpha hmm

I think the dog felt safe and secure, then the DH walked in and the dog felt nervous. This was compounded by the DH ignoring the growling (the warning sign) and invading the dog's space even further by picking him up. Further compounded by reacting to the growling by dropping him.

5OBalesofHay Tue 26-Nov-13 23:22:30

I an sorry but I would put it down rather than rehome. You don't know who it could bite next.

Slippersandacuppa Tue 26-Nov-13 23:23:28

I agree with lougle It sounds like your dog sees you as his and sees your DH as a direct threat. You let him sleep in your bed (I understand why you did but I do think that contributed to the problem) so he is being treated as an equal. Dogs are much happier/ less stressed when they don't have to do the looking after. He feels he needs to protect you and stop your DH from getting near you. I'm quite sure this happens regularly as we humanise animals and don't recognise that they need different things from us to make them feel secure. No criticism at all! I also think that if you nip it in the bud, it can get better but I'd suggest looking for a reputable dog trainer to help you.

lougle Tue 26-Nov-13 23:25:08

Slippers I don't think the dog saw the OP as 'his'. I just think he felt safe with her. The DH isn't a threat to his possession of the OP. Just a threat to his security and safety.

Slippersandacuppa Tue 26-Nov-13 23:25:12

Sorry, not lougle, fluffaduck

theeternalstudent Tue 26-Nov-13 23:26:06

YES, this can be resolved with some training. Sounds like the dog is overly bonded with you and sees your DH as some kind of threat. When your DH picked him up, it was conformation of his fears. Wrong way to deal with it in my opinion. A bit of training wouldn't go a miss for you ALL to help understand your dog and how to manage unwanted behaviours.

My rescue dog bit someone after just a few weeks of having him. We went to dog training classes and that helped. Apart from anything else I understand my dog better.

Don't get me wrong, there is always the threat of ANY dog biting, especially a rescue dog. I do think that you owe him at least the chance of getting some help and sorting things out. Poor little thing is probably already confused after spending sometime in a rescue.

Middleagedmotheroftwo Tue 26-Nov-13 23:27:07

Get rid of it. What if it had bitten a baby or small child visitor to your home.
I hate dogs for this very reason. You never know when the nicest dog will turn.

AHardDaysWrite Tue 26-Nov-13 23:27:07

Pack theory and "alpha" behaviour has been discredited, fluffaduck. They're outdated theories as we know a lot more about dog behaviour now.

The dog in this case gave a warning. It growled. You ignored its warning and it bit. The whole family needs some input from a behaviouralist who knows what they're doing, but I wouldn't personally rehome the dog.

AHardDaysWrite Tue 26-Nov-13 23:28:00

Pack theory and "alpha" behaviour has been discredited, fluffaduck. They're outdated theories as we know a lot more about dog behaviour now.

The dog in this case gave a warning. It growled. You ignored its warning and it bit. The whole family needs some input from a behaviouralist who knows what they're doing, but I wouldn't personally rehome the dog.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 26-Nov-13 23:29:09

Definitely try to get some behavioural advice before rehoming the dog again - the rescue you got him from may be able to help with this.

I'm not an expert but it sounds like he may be overly attached to you and is now getting possessive. I would hope that a behaviourist can help you solve this problem but I'm pretty sure it will take commitment from all of you, probably mostly your DH.

You might want to post in the Doghouse topic - its a bit late tonight but there are people around who are experts, and/or could recommend good behaviourists (that's the other thing - ensuring you get a good one and not one of those 'pack leader' Cesar Millan types)

This must have been a horrible shock for you and especially your DH, hope you can work through it.

AdmiralData Tue 26-Nov-13 23:29:51

I'm sorry that you're going through a hard time OP. My border collie bit me three times when I was a young child resulting in skin punctures and visits to the hospital but I refused point blank to let my mum rehome him as he was mine and loved me, and I him. He was spoilt rotten which didn't help. I think training could really be a good option if your husband is willing to give him another chance. The dog may think you are his (as my dog did, he just got confused) or may not have liked being dropped. Please tell your DH to think carefully.

Alisvolatpropiis Tue 26-Nov-13 23:29:54

Dogs aren't pack animals, they've been bred to want to be with humans more than other dogs. That's a common misconception though, mostly taken from studies done in the 70's on captive wolves who were in man made "packs". Their behaviour bears no resemblance to domestic dogs nor wild wolves really.

There is no need to keep the dog offfurniture etc to assert "alpha" status.

Has your husband spent less time with the dog than you have? It's only been a few weeks and it may just be a case of the dog bonding with you more and becoming possessive as a result. Perhaps your husband could spend time with the dog, doesn't have to be a lot of time, being the one who puts food down for example would be enough to build a bond.

It does sound like a red most moment and as he's a rescue it's difficult to know what is background is. Positive reinforcement works much better with dogs than punishing them/hitting them.

I do think the problem can be fixed, as long as your husband is willing to give it a go. Best of luck.

Slippersandacuppa Tue 26-Nov-13 23:30:12

Sorry lougle crossed posted there! I can see what you're saying but the fact that he was cuddled up on furniture and started growling before OP's DH went near him (is this correct OP?) sounds more like aggression than being defensive? It sounds to me as if he sees the DH as direct competition - a bed is a special place and he knows it. I agree with getting him a nice, safe crate, no attention if he's being demanding and rewarding good behaviour.

fluffaduck Tue 26-Nov-13 23:31:38

Just my opinion as a long time dog owner AHard.
Not an expert one just my take on the situation.
No need to poo poo my suggestion twice I read it the first time wink grin (joke as I know my I pad sends posts twice as well)

DrinkFeckArseGirls Tue 26-Nov-13 23:40:16

Sorry but you and your DH caused it that situation. The dog was feeling threatened and you suggested and your DH carried out the worst action in that situation. Carried dogs bark and snip more as they feel out if control. Not to mention being dropped hmm.

Are you sure you are suitable family for that dog? Your stupid behaviour made the situation worse and put the dog in danger of being put down.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Tue 26-Nov-13 23:41:04

You have committed to taking on a rescue dog - your husband is being grossly unfair to want to rehome him at the first hurdle. Ask him if he wanted to send your kids back the first time they caused a problem! (or not if he would have!!)

This was a human handling error not a dog problem, it can be fixed, but you both need to gain some understanding of dog behavour.

DeathByLaundry Tue 26-Nov-13 23:45:12

This dog views you, and possibly your bed, as a resource OP. You provide security and comfort. He may be seeing your DH as a threat to his resources - has your DH moved him off the bed before? To remove a dog from a space it may defend you should call him off, entice with a treat or distraction, but never forcibly lift.

This is very probably fixable and there are lots of good things in your post. This dog is new and settling in. It gives lots of warning, and only bit when those clear warning signals were ignored and he felt he had no remaining option. It is loving and you are getting on well otherwise.

I urge you to firstly put any ideas about dominance, packs, alpha males or a canine sense of responsibility and the like out of your mind. None of that holds water and I can guarantee you these events are unrelated to any of those ideas.

Secondly, don't try to manage this on your own. If you get prompt help you'll have a great chance of sorting this out. A behaviour counsellor will be able to diagnose what went wrong much better than we can, and they will be able to help you prevent this occurring again. You and your family will benefit from being given better insight into your dog's motivations. If you fail to get help immediately then this may well become a repeated event and the dog will quickly learn that growling is no good and he will start to bite more readily. So don't put it to the back of your mind, make a point of seeking help right away.

Start with the APBC whose website has a listings page, and once you've found a member locally make an appointment with your vet to refer you. APBC membership is vital as it is your assurance of quality. There are numerous ill informed charlatans out there.

Good luck and don't panic. smile

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