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My dog nipped me. What do I do next?

(32 Posts)
Amaxapax Mon 12-May-14 19:46:03

I have a three year old GSD X border collie. I got him from Dogs Trust in September. He is the perfect dog in the house and we adore him. He has never met a person he doesn't like, is sweet and gentle, patient with children and is often described as handsome and charming.

However, he hates all other animals, especially dogs. We have managed this as best we can for the past several months. We have tried training and medication, but nothing has been successful. I would like to try a behaviourist, but I'm concerned that the cost will be crippling.

On Friday morning, I took him for his 6am walk. The wind blew my hair into my face so I looked down for a minute to push it away, and suddenly there was another dog coming towards us. I tried to go in the other direction but my dog got a bit tangled up so I decided to do my best and try to manage him while the other dog passed us. My dog was clawing at his face to try to get his Halti off and was working his mouth and he bit my thigh. I don't think he meant to. I spoke to his trainer at Dogs Trust and she said it sounded like a classic redirect bite. He was just too overwhelmed. I don't even know if he realised what he did.

I didn't realise at the time, despite my leg really hurting, but he had bruised me badly and drawn some blood.

As you'd expect, I'm now feeling quite nervous about taking him for walks. I'm not worried at home because he simply isn't aggressive. But I know now what he is capable of on walks. We have tried to get him a muzzle, but he has a long, thin nose and we're struggling to find one that fits properly. Everyone clearly thinks we're crazy for keeping him, particularly as we're going to TTC later this year. But I don't want to send him back to Dogs Trust: he's settled and happy and he doesn't deserve to be rejected from a second home. The people who had him before clearly didn't socialise him properly, but that isn't his fault.

At the moment my husband is working away Monday through Friday, so most walks are my responsibility. And the dog looooves his walks. But where do I go from here? How do I get my confidence back and how can I prevent this situation for occurring again?

Oh, and if anyone had any good muzzle recommendations, they would be gratefully received. I've included a photo so you can see his nose.

Ephedra Mon 12-May-14 20:01:12

First of all september until now is no time at all. He may even be still settling in his new home.

What training have you tried?

I have a collie who reacts to dogs (onlead only) and his reaction is to jump up and bite my sleeve while growling. He used to do it all the time but it has got better, I think it's only happen twice this year.

You need to walk your dog, not doing so will make him worse. You need to be super aware when out so that you can avoid other dogs.

Ephedra Mon 12-May-14 20:04:07

Also, we switched to using a harness for walking our dog. It changed his reactions to other dogs over night. He still gets stressed but it takes longer before he becomes overwhelmed.

Pinkje Mon 12-May-14 20:05:37

Could he wear a yellow jacket so other walkers know to keep their dogs away. I've not seen this in RL but (as often the case) read about it here on Mumsnet.

Lilcamper Mon 12-May-14 20:17:49

If you ask for a vet referral to a behaviourist from the APBC your pet insurance should cover it.

Amaxapax Mon 12-May-14 20:18:14

He does get walked twice a day, and that's still happening despite Friday's events. I am generally able to avoid dogs, but some situations are unavoidable. For example, we might see a dog on the other side of a big field and that will be enough to aggravate him.

We had him in a harness for a while, but he pulls terribly. It is actually painful to walk him without his Canny Collar, even though I know he hates it. He tries to claw it off constantly. He's quite intense when we walk: he pulls, looks around constantly, sniffs constantly, walks from side to side, etc. There are no leisurely walks for us.

We went to some trainers who were clearly way over their heads and no help. Other than that, I have tried to do lots of positive training, such as treating when he sees a dog, clicker training, etc. His trainer at Dogs Trust thought his aggression would never be trained out of him. I, probably naively, thought that he would improve once out of an environment where he was constantly on high alert. I now doubt that.

We have looked into the yellow jackets, but I don't think it's terribly well known around here. I am constantly amazed by the refusal of other dog walkers to give us just a bit of space when he is clearly distressed, or even when I ask for it. But I know that I'm the one who needs to manage the situation.

PeanutPatty Mon 12-May-14 20:21:20

My lurcher wears a muzzle and he is a greyhound x whippet and has a thin long face. I buy them from

SirLurcherLot is very helpful wrt to measurements and fitting so do contact her. Also the racing muzzles allow the dog to pant as the sleeve types do not which obviously mean the dog can't breathe/cool properly if he exerts himself or gets hot.

I'm so sorry to hear that you've been bitten. Another good source of information is a FB group called Dog Training Advice and Support. The admin REALLY REALLY know their stuff and can direct you to accredited force free trainers if the advice they give you online isn't hitting the mark.

Keep us updated.

PeanutPatty Mon 12-May-14 20:23:22

YY to the Yellow Dog Project vest. Word is getting out and dog owners are starting to be aware of it. If only all dog owners put their dogs on lead when approaching other dogs that are on lead and giving a wide berth it would make everyone's life then bit less stressful.

Ephedra Mon 12-May-14 20:29:28

We use a Mekuti balance harness and my dog no longer pulls.

If you do some training before a walk, teach him a new trick or something, it may make him easier to walk as his brain will be a bit tired.

I agree that you need to see a behavourist. The book Control Unleached by Leslie McDevitt is really useful too if you can find it.

Ephedra Mon 12-May-14 20:30:17


tabulahrasa Mon 12-May-14 20:32:44

I was just about to suggest a muzzle designed for a greyhound. If you're already having issues with the collar it's especially important that you don't just put a muzzle on him, but train him to wear it happily.

Honestly though - you need a behaviourist, someone properly qualified who can tell you how to train him.

They are expensive, but that's for an assessment, a training plan and usually email/phone support, you only pay again if you need them to see your dog again. So you're talking paying to see them every few months if needed, not weekly or anything.

I'm assuming that seeing as you've already contacted Dog's Trust - they don't have somebody who can work with you, but you can see if they recommend someone or failing that ask your vet for a recommendation...behaviorists quite often do a cheaper rate for rescue dogs as well btw.

Deverethemuzzler Mon 12-May-14 20:41:25

I had he most passive, sweet dog you could ever meet and he took a chunk out of my calf whilst trying to get at a passing spaniel.

They were both on leads and the other dog was walking past on the pavement.

He run out of the front door and attacked a pit type once. He was 15!

He could chew through a lead and halti in seconds.

It was really stressful

I never managed to sort him out. I just didn't know how to. You do right by trying to sort this out now.

I think the trouble with dogs like this, gentle and sweet with humans, is that you can forget just how aggressive they are until they do it again.

I have learnt my lesson. I worked really hard right from the beginning to socialise my dogs since.

My rescue just sounds like she wants to eat other dogs. She is really friendly. <work in progress>

spinnergeologist Mon 12-May-14 20:50:42


Similar problem here with a GSD cross rescue who hates dogs. We did take him off the nose harness as he kept getting eye infections. We now have him on a harness and collar double lead which is ok. We have been lead training and treat training for 3.5 yrs now and there are small improvements though we are resigned to the fact he will never be comfortable with other dogs. We also struggled with trainers as they didn't seem to know what to do with him. I found he picked up on my stress about walking him so was worse outdoors. I know it is hard but you need to try to stay calm as possible. It may not be as nice but try road walking him for a while until you are confident, that way you are less likely to meet other dogs out of the blue.
We have slowly been introducing him to other dogs in relaxed environments, not the park, as this is where he is the most stressed. He reacts best if we sit our living room with a another owner and their dog, both dogs on leads and just chat. Then he is happy to walk with the other dog. I would look into lurcher muzzles as the standard ones fit GSDs very badly we found.
Lastly you need to pick a technique and stick to it. It will take a very long time, longer than you have had him, for him to settle and start responding to training. It took my dog 2.5yrs to settle. If he nips I do shout bad dog (this is the only time I shout apart from if he manages to bite another dog) as it makes it clear that he has done wrong. Its best to try for positive reinforcement though instead. Try to thing of all the joy he brings to you and stay positive you have done a wonderful thing taking him on and giving him a loving home.

LEMmingaround Mon 12-May-14 20:59:00

Have you tried a "Baskerville" muzzle? they make them specifically for GSDs.

With regards to the incident, i think that you may have inadvertently caused it. You reacted to the other dog by trying to take your dog away from it, giving him the message that there must be a problem with the other dog. The trouble is, of course you have to react to prevent a fight, i think a muzzle MIGHT help, so long as he doesn't feel disadvantaged wearing it because that way you can not react when you see another dog, so no shortening of the lead, or pulling dog in other direction, allowing him to approach the other dog (if you are strong enough to pull him away if he kicks off) or the other dog to approach him and try and be really relaxed about it. That is worth a try, although, i wouldn't promise it would work if he is set in his dog aggression. He is a gorgeous dog, i imagine he i very intelligent, what sort of training do you do with him?

LEMmingaround Mon 12-May-14 21:00:51

I do that with my little bastard JRT, who is dog aggressive but not with all dogs, so if we meet another dog i let him approach etc and try not to send any messages down the lead. Of course the difference is my JRT weights 10kg and i can hoik him out of trouble if he kicks off.

Amaxapax Mon 12-May-14 21:08:00

Thanks for all your helpful comments. I'm going to work on getting a behaviourist referral from our vet and I'm very interested in the Mekuti harness. I'm also going to look into the lurcher muzzles, which look much more appropriate for his nose.

I used to walk him along the road but he has developed aggression towards buses and lorries. He barks furiously at them. It's hard to know what to do for the best sometimes.

Unfortunately, the Dogs Trust where we got him is over an hour away, so they didn't seem to know of any trainers or behaviourists in our area. However, I'm starting to think we will need to look further afield anyway.

He does bring so much happiness into our lives. I'm desperate to make things at least a bit more bearable because I hate seeing him so worked up and unhappy when he sees other dogs. I feel like he's missing out on so much.

Ephedra Mon 12-May-14 21:11:25

You need to make sure that whoever your vet refers you to is experienced with collies.

The way you describe how your dog acts during a walk, his nipping and chasing anything that moves are all collie traits.

Amaxapax Mon 12-May-14 21:17:13

Thank you, LEM. He is very handsome. He's clever at home. We do lots of training with his toys, so he plays hide and seek and other games. He does tricks before he can eat, which he loves and is very cute and funny. Everything at home is very positive.

We don't have any other friends with dogs, which is kind of a shame because it means we can't have any low-key interactions. Because he's reasonably big and has the GSD look about him, other people tend to be wary when they see him starting to react.

I completely agree that I caused the incident. I shortened his lead so he couldn't go after the other dog, and that, combined with his Canny Collar, must have made him feel like he had no defences left. I think he might be less aggressive off lead, but of course, I just don't think we can risk that unless in a very controlled environment.

LEMmingaround Mon 12-May-14 21:17:15

I agree with ephedra - it all sounds very collie like, you don't say how old he is. He may well calm down as he gets older, i assume he is castrated.

PeanutPatty Mon 12-May-14 21:20:51

One of the admins on the FB group I mentioned has 12 collies. She knows the breed really well.

Amaxapax Mon 12-May-14 21:24:23

He just turned three and he is castrated. He was a stray as a puppy and then was adopted by a family from Dogs Trust. They took him to a puppy class where he nipped another dog and was not allowed to go back. I think they stopped trying after that. Although we didn't like the trainer we tried, she said he was clearly a dog that hadn't been walked or socialised, which I think is right. I think they just decided he was too hard. Eventually, after a year or 18 months, they took him back to Dogs Trust saying they didn't have time for him.

The collie features are interesting. Most people seem to focus on his GSD characteristics.

Ephedra Mon 12-May-14 21:26:46

He sounds very very collie to me. That will make training both easier and harder!

Amaxapax Mon 12-May-14 21:30:44

I'll have a look at that Patty. Twelve collies! The very idea exhausts me.

Aked Mon 12-May-14 21:39:25

Well the trainer who turned him away from puppy classes can give themselves a big pat on the back can't they?!

No advice I'm afraid, but wanted to say he is beautiful. I hope you manage to get some help with him as he sounds like a wonderful dogsmile

Amaxapax Mon 12-May-14 21:52:47

Thanks, Aked. He's currently alternately staring at a ball that has rolled under the TV stand and giving me evils because I haven't retrieved it for him yet. He has personality.

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