I need some heavy duty advice/wise words/help.........(15 Posts)
I posted last weekish about our rescue Cocker Spaniel - approx 16 months old. Well - that issue aside now something rather serious has happened. Last night my son (22) was playing with him, fooling about a bit and tickling his tummy - no rough stuff - and the dog suddenly snapped and bit him on the nose. It was bad enough to warrant a speedy trip to A & E. The skin was broken and bleeding heavily, but the bite didn't go right through. Anyway - they glued it up and sent him on his way with antibiotics.
So - we're all in a complete mess - emotionally and every other way. Son has cracked today and the shock appears to be manifesting itself in tears and a good deal of upset. He doesn't want to give the dog back to the rescue but he says he feels nothing towards him now - doesn't want to pet him or even make eye contact with him. DH and I are absolutely torn. Obviously we don't want to put the dog through another rejection but everything has changed and not in a good way.
Please - any advice? Words of wisdom? What would you do? Thanks in advance.........
Sorry I haven't read your other posts but perhaps your son just caught a sore spot . We have a 2.7 yr old terrier that we rescued at 15 weeks . He's a lovely family dog apart from the odd mad moment . About 3 weeks ago my son(19) was sitting on the sofa with him and was playing with the dogs ears , which I have repeatedly told him not to , the dog suddenly turned and really went for my sons face , which fortunately he missed. I told my son that it was his fault and that I'd have had no sympathy if he'd been bitten . Might not be exactly the same with your son but maybe? My son FWIW still adores the dog , and still keeps messing with his ears !
Thanks Floral - the other post was just about the dog being a little too skippy at night!
I think maybe this dog isn't used to being played with - he seems to not particularly enjoy it! He's only growled once before and that was when DH inadvertently got too near his testicles. He's not neutered yet - that's happening Tuesday. I wonder if he'll be better after that? I am still not 100% sure that we'll all in agreement on keeping him - is it even fair on the dog to go through his life with one person in the family wary/scared of him? I just don't know.
Snowballs, I'm really sorry to hear this has happened.
I think your second post actually has hit the nail on the head. You say the dog "seems to not particularly enjoy it". That to me is the crux of this. Any dog, rescue, pedigree, whatever, will respond if it is put in a position where it feels threatened or uncomfortable, no matter how benign our intentions. To me, it sounds as though the dog has already tried to make it clear that it doesn't like being played with, but a big young man who he still doesn't know very well keeps doing that to him - the dog will have felt that a warning bite was its only method of getting out of an uncomfortable or scary situation. Ironically, your son's decision to avoid eye contact and playing will be very beneficial. Dogs don't like direct eye contact or being stared at - they see this as being intimidatory/threatening. If your son had been doing this as well, this could have made the dog feel even more threatened. You might find this very helpful - it's a video made by a dog trainer which goes through a dog's body language and shows how to tell if a dog is comfortable being stroked or played with. [[http://eileenanddogs.com/2012/08/29/does-your-dog-really-want-to-be-petted/ ]] Having a look at this might be helpful for all members of the family, to try to understand what your dog is telling you.
I can imagine you are all feeling pretty stressed and upset at the moment and I think it's important you just give yourselves some time and not rush to any decision. It may be worth having a chat with the rescue who you adopted via, and asking their views/advice.
Very sorry to hear this too. I think Scuttle's measured post is excellent.
As a society we have beliefs and expectations about what dogs should enjoy and tolerate, but dogs are individuals and vary greatly due to temperament and their experiences. For example, some dogs will dislike petting/playing, even if it is not rough. I don't know the background of your dog but at the very least he has been through a lot of upheaval recently and doesn't know your family well yet. His enjoyment of play might well change in time, but when your dog shows you that they don't like a certain behaviour it is part of good ownership to respect that and not force certain things of them to meet your own needs. It does sound as if signals that he was not comfortable were missed or ignored and therefore he felt it necessary to give a snap.
That sounds lectury and judgy but it's not meant like that. I'm coming from a position of similar experience. When we picked up my rescue girl I had all the conventional ideas of what you do with dogs. Pet them, throw balls for them, cut their nails, walk them whatever the weather. As it happens to begin with she was intimidated by petting, not interested in balls, would growl if I so much as touched a paw let alone cut nails and refused to walk in the rain. I had to learn to respect her as she is and not as I thought she should be. We could then manage her without pushing her outside her comfort zone and begin to work on some of the behaviours, one step at a time. One year later she loves cuddles, balls and will give me a paw. She still hates the rain.
I have had days where I felt similar to your son. I have always got over it though and it's very possible your son will be able to rebuild his relationship with the dog. I agree that all of you learning to read his signals and respect them is important. Once I understood my girl's behaviour better it was much easier to give her space and compassion. For example she wasn't walking her own poo all around the house and growling any time I tried to wipe her paw to be a pain, she was terrified of this strange lady grabbing at her limbs and didn't understand I meant no harm!
Thank you both so much for your constructive comments. I do feel you're absolutely right and I will take on board what you say. We're going to see how the next couple of days go.
I'm very keen not to make any rash or speedy decisions and since we're going back to the Dog's Trust on Tuesday for his neutering we'll speak to them then and see what they say/suggest.
I think my son will come round. We both think last night's breakdown was delayed shock - the first real reaction he's shown since it happened and once he'd calmed down/had some fresh air and a cup of tea he did say he felt a bit better. Interestingly he said he was struggling with the fact that this dog is so very different from our last one who was really 'his' dog. They were very much 'best friends'.
We don't really know the history or background of this one - he was brought over from Ireland by the Dog's Trust.
Scuttle - I'll have a look at the video - thanks for that.
Partridge - your bit about the weather made me smile. Last dog wouldn't get his pretty little bottom wet for love or money! 13 years we had him and we never did manage to get him out in the rain. This one absolutely loves the outside and so far it's only snow he hasn't experienced.
Anyway - thanks again and I'll keep you posted
It's funny you should say your dog was brought over from Ireland. ANother poster on this forum is fromIreland and said that she is thought strange for not hitting her dog and for keeping it in the house. Perhaps your dog has been used to being hit, possibly by a man and thought that is what your son was about to do. It would be good to see if Dogs Trust have any background information on him Good luck.
They knew nothing of his background little - he was a stray. I don't know if this is true or not but someone told us that in Ireland if a stray or abandoned dog isn't claimed within a certain time (20 days?) then it is destroyed and that's why the Dog's Trust goes over and scoops them up for rehoming here? Don't know but that would explain why they know nothing of his history.
Anyway - good signs this morning - DS has taken the dog for a long walk and said he's feeling a lot better about things and has had a think about what happened and why. He's still wary but it's progress.
Yes definitely speak to the DT as they have behaviour people to help. Hope it goes well. My DH was similar with our girl to begin with. He struggled to bond with her because she doesn't like rolling around with him like his favourite childhood dog did. Now he loves her though and sees she has other qualities, like snuggling up adoringly into the crook of his arm at night!
Re. the rain, I must admit to not having done much work on encouraging her out in it New puppy loves being outside in all weathers though so I better get used to soggy walks!
Hello, I'm the Irish poster little referred to earlier. I can only speak about the area I know, and spaniels are very much working dogs and not pets. So there's a good chance he might not be used to too much interaction and being in the house and it all got a bit too much. Although Dogs Trust is only in Dublin, where there is more chance of him being a pet. But possibly still used to living outside without much interaction.
I think it's also worth reiterating that a nervous dog will take time. One of our greyhounds came to us as v nervous around men and anything like ties, belts etc - he obviously expected to be hit. He took considerably longer to bond fully with DH and is still very wary of men he doesn't know, though loves FIL, nephews etc as they are a well known quantity now. I'd say it took him a good two years before he was really, really relaxed and chilled out. Now he is the soppiest fluffiest marshmallow and adores DH, follows him round looking soppy and frequently climbs onto the sofa with him for cuddles, companionable farting and general doses of man love. There was no way he could have done this shortly after his adoption - it would simply have been too much for him.
Helga - thanks for that. What you say makes perfect sense considering how he is at the moment. When we first brought him home he did seem a bit weirded out by the whole house and affection thing.
You've all be very helpful - thanks again
I don't want to give a bad impression of Ireland. I meet owners every day while walking my dog whose dogs are obviously loved. But I live in a farming community and the majority of dogs are "tools" for want of a better word. And in general the spaniels I know are working dogs. (Although I did meet the cutest 9 week cocker spaniel last week- I really think my next dog will be one)
Is it an just an Irish thing? I do meet people all the time who are horrified that I have dogs in the house
and I haven't told them about all the cats on the beds Then again Helga we are in the country as well. I would guess that many rescue dogs here have never been inside a house.
All the local rescues here seem to have arrangements to send dogs to England where there are simply more people willing to adopt. Dogs in the pounds here have very little time before being pts - and are also unlikely to be adopted less a shelter takes them in.
Back on subject, our rescue pup is only a few months old and we know nothing except that he was a stray. It became obvious very early on that he is very sensitive about having the back of his neck touched, so can only presume something has happened. I am also pretty sure he had never been on grass before, judging from his reaction when I first took him round the garden. So I guess like others have said it just takes time for the dog to work out what is going on, as it does for people to know the boundaries with each animal
I have no bad impression Helga - DH was brought up in the North of England and I gather things are very similar there - or were when he was growing up.
Anyway - the thing is - our dog is here now, and this is how we live, and I think he's going to be fine. I hope he's going to be fine but I do feel a lot better about it all now.
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