Absolutely at the end of my tether. Dog out of control, including biting. Please help

(27 Posts)
Mojitoonthebeach Wed 15-Jul-20 11:02:50

Hi,

We have 2 dogs. One is a rescue who we've had for 18 months and one lab x cocker, who we've had from a puppy.

The rescue is an absolute dream and settled in very well. Asserted herself with our lab and they both know where they stand with each other. They're both almost 4.

Our lab x is an absolutely beautiful dog. She's incredibly clever and can be lovely. Generally though, she is an absolute nightmare and I don't know what to do anymore.

She barks A LOT. Sometimes at us, with a warning growl beforehand. She digs up the garden in a frenzied manner, when she races around out of control. She learns new tricks very easily and does get certain commands, but if I told her to go to her bed, if she didn't want to, she wouldn't. I feel like she believes she is in charge.

Worst of all, she has bitten on several occasions and her bite is very hard. Often breaking the skin and leaving a bruise, sometimes drawing blood. That has always been out of fear/being startled, so we can keep that under control, but still, it's very upsetting. Her trigger is having her collar grabbed or if she is asleep and you went to grab something from underneath her. A remote for example, on the days that she was allowed on the sofa for a cuddle. We've since stopped allowing this, as it's just too risky. She is allowed up, but not on the same sofa that we are on.

We also have a cat and they can't be near each other. If she sees her in the garden, she will absolutely lose her mind and almost squeal to get out. She has already scratched up our new internal door to pieces.

Basically she's just making our daily lives incredibly difficult and I hate to say, as much as we love her, we're just not enjoying her.

The last time she bit was the other day. My dp was trying to keep her away from our cat (ongoing daily battle) and she grabbed her collar and straight away she bit and hard. Dp knew she shouldn't have grabbed her collar, but it was instinct to keep her away from our cat.

We have had a dog behaviourist in who basically said that we need to concentrate mostly on her mental stimulation, which we do, but sometimes we would just like to sit in the garden and relax and not have to constantly keep her entertained with new tricks etc. If we don't, we get barked or growled at. It's also not good for our neighbours, although I hope they can hear that we are working on it and not just letting her crack on and bark on a loop.

Please, any advice would be very much appreciated. We are losing our minds tbh.

TIA

OP’s posts: |
Hoppinggreen Wed 15-Jul-20 11:44:14

My worry is that she is properly biting, that doesn’t sound like a warning snap
You need good, well qualified expert advice, which it sounds like you have tried. Can you have some more sessions?
Sadly she might need to be in a cat free home, I am surprised she is so cat reactive if she’s been living with one since a puppy

Sunnydayshereatlast Wed 15-Jul-20 11:56:53

My experience of a dodg who hated a collar tugged was use a slip lead to move her from a-b. Actually stopped her getting stressed and antsy.. Hand signal her off and used a lead to coax her off. Her attitude greatly changed.
Our ddog was also banished from the sofa.

carly2803 Wed 15-Jul-20 11:58:15

going to be completely honest.
get a behaviourist to work thought it
get a vet involved/look for pain/deafness
if you cannot do anything after the above, put her to sleep

sorry to be blunt. im sick of the"rehome",. dog bites. what if it ran off and bit a child. or escaped and savaged a child

i say this is a dog owner.

sorry OP, shit situation but dont feel awful. Talk to your vet

SoddingWeddings Wed 15-Jul-20 12:00:14

Look for someone who teaches dog training in the Absolute Dogs method. It's force free and based on games - or so the dog thinks.

Mojitoonthebeach Wed 15-Jul-20 12:03:02

@Hoppinggreen, yes, I'm surprised too. When we first got her, we would feed them side by side and initially it was ok, but then our dog would start pouncing, so dp quickly moved our cats feeding bowl away to another area and from then on, the cat lived upstairs and the dog downstairs. I think dp made a mistake here, but it's done now I suppose.

We have tried introducing them again, by having her on a lead and feeding her treats when she doesn't bark at her etc, but it always ends badly. Starts quite well though.

The idea of rehoming either of them is heartbreaking.

OP’s posts: |
frostedviolets Wed 15-Jul-20 12:13:22

We have had a dog behaviourist in who basically said that we need to concentrate mostly on her mental stimulation
How utterly ridiculous!
More mental stimulation isn’t going to stop disobedience like refusing to go to bed, nor is it going to stop biting when held or disturbed, nor is it going to stop predation (going after the cat)

What qualifications (if any!) does your “behaviourist” have?!

To be quite honest, I would have any dog that bit people put to sleep and like a PP I get very cross at the suggestion of rehoming biters.
It’s not responsible to pass a dog that bites people onto others.
It’s one of the reasons I would never have a rescue dog and would always buy from puppyhood.
I don’t trust people to be responsible.

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Anordinarymum Wed 15-Jul-20 12:15:19

Have posted 3 messages on here and none of them showing up !

frostedviolets Wed 15-Jul-20 12:19:09

And yes I know the ‘problem’ dog is not a rescue and the good dog is a rescue.

GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Wed 15-Jul-20 12:30:16

frosted, the behaviourist's suggestions are not as mad as they might sound. Dogs who are bored and frustrated are much more likely to make their own entertainment and be generally obnoxious than dogs who are occupied and fulfilled.

OP, I'm not qualified to recommend anything except further work with a behaviourist. The biting would really worry me, as would the predation against the cat. If you look up the layered stress model, it might explain what your behaviourist was trying to do.

frostedviolets Wed 15-Jul-20 12:42:04

the behaviourist's suggestions are not as mad as they might sound. Dogs who are bored and frustrated are much more likely to make their own entertainment and be generally obnoxious than dogs who are occupied and fulfilled

I think two things about what you’ve said.

Firstly, lots of mental stimulation doesn’t always calm a dog down, in some dogs it does the opposite.
My own dog is a perfect example.

Secondly, to me (I am not in any way qualified; just another owner!) predation is not caused by boredom or frustration.
Predation is an instinctive behaviour that the dog should have been taught was unacceptable the first time it tried it.

I don’t personally believe threatening barking at people is caused by boredom though the frenzied digging and running might be.
But then I would argue that the frenzied digging and running could just as likely be stress/overstimulation as boredom/understimulation.

I don’t think disobedience is likely to be boredom.

The OP said bites happen when the dog is touched by the collar or disturbed when resting.
Which again I don’t see as being due to boredom.

Listlesspenguin Wed 15-Jul-20 12:52:44

Facebook - dog training advice and support. It's my 'go to' for problematic dogs. They have loads of resources in the group and you can then also post for help if required.

ViperBugloss Wed 15-Jul-20 13:44:09

Unfortunately no one whithout seeing the dog can give very constructive advice. You do need to be able to see the situation in rl.

Do get another behavourist to help you. Motivation is great but for many dogs you need to teach them to chill as much as do tricks etc.

Calm training activities would be better eg scent work and sniffing activities, or kongs and lick mats.

The biting as you describe it does not worry me. If the situation does not occur the dog will not bite so the behaviourist can show you how to manage the situations that cause the frustration and biting from your dog.

However all of what I have said is just guessing - you do need to get a trained qualified behaviourist in to help. The sooner you do the sooner you will be on a pathway to having a dog that is pleaseant to have around.

If you need help in sourcing a behaviourist pm me.

Reedwarbler Wed 15-Jul-20 13:53:35

Just a thought, and not a fix, but...could you take the dog's collar off while at home/in the house, then there is nothing to grab. None of my dogs have worn collars indoors, for various reasons, but I don't know of any dog that likes being grabbed by the collar, not that it is an excuse for biting.
If you decide you can't continue with this dog because of its temperament, please don't pass the problem on by rehoming it. I rehomed a dog privately (40 years ago) which I had put down after it had bitten 2 people. I had been lied to by the previous owners as I subsequently found it had bitten them, which was why they got rid of it, although of course they gave me another reason. They didn't have the balls to do the right thing so left it up to a stranger to make the decision they didn't want to.

ViperBugloss Wed 15-Jul-20 14:03:18

@FrostedViolets It’s one of the reasons I would never have a rescue dog and would always buy from puppyhood

I think it is the dog they had from a puppy that is causing the issues not the rescue.

Again a lot of people are saying you cannot rehome a biter. This may be the case but many dogs will only bite in a certain situation. Many dogs can be assessed and rehomed quite happily in a diffferent situation and never bite again.

If you do choose to rehome make sure you do so through a breed rescue - a labrador or spaniel rescue will help. Your dog is crying out to do scent work maye even professionally!

frostedviolets Wed 15-Jul-20 14:12:13

I think it is the dog they had from a puppy that is causing the issues not the rescue
I know, I was just saying that I don’t think it responsible to put dogs that bite into rescue but I know lots do and I could never have a rescue myself for partly that reason.

Again a lot of people are saying you cannot rehome a biter. This may be the case but many dogs will only bite in a certain situation
Many dogs can be assessed and rehomed quite happily in a diffferent situation and never bite again*
True, but then I know that unmanaged or not managed correctly, aggression escalates, often quickly.
How do you ensure the new owner manages the dog correctly and the problem doesn’t resurface or worse, escalate?

I wouldn’t trust a previous owner, or even a rescue to be entirely truthful in the first place nor would I necessarily trust any new owner to manage the dog properly.
If the new owner finds they can’t cope then what happens?

What if the dog is rehomed yet again by the new owners but escalates and causes severe injury this time?

I think it’s too risky and quite unfair to dogs that have never bitten aswell given thousands of them are PTS each year for lack of home.

nicky7654 Wed 15-Jul-20 14:20:50

Plenty of exercise off lead will help. My two collapse after a run around our fields and then sleep for ages. If I can't take them out ie rain then they get naughty and look for ways to occupy themselves. But not sure how you can stop your dog going for the cat. Some dogs just don't like them and it's in their genes to chase. Good luck.

Sunnydayshereatlast Wed 15-Jul-20 14:51:03

I would like to recommend YouTube ddog calming music op. Having good results with an anxious dpuppy lately..

Ihaventgottimeforthis Wed 15-Jul-20 14:54:35

Can you keep separate routes for the cat & dog? Ours don't mix, but luckily we have a big house so dog stays downstairs, and cat stays upstairs - she's mostly outside and we make sure she has an exit route that dog can't get to.

Mental stimulation doesn't have to just be training - how about puzzle feeders for her food?
Have you looked at her diet - she seems to be very high energy, stressed perhaps - might a change in diet help?

Birdie728 Wed 15-Jul-20 14:56:40

We put privacy screening on our patio doors, it’s really helped our pup settle, he used to sit and bark at every passing bird/leaf/cat. Just a small idea that might help.

ViperBugloss Wed 15-Jul-20 15:06:41

Frostedviolets experienced dog owners are often happy to take dogs on and work with them. If homed through a reputable rescue the owners will have back up for life. The dogs are assessed at their old home, and in foster home before rehoming. Unfortunately this is not the case will all rescues so careful research has to be done. Trust me rescues never ever take much notice of what the original owners say when evaluating a dog!

They should not of course be rehomed to first time pet home owners.

GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Wed 15-Jul-20 16:15:38

It was the digging and running that made me think the dog was climbing the walls. A lab X cocker as a working cross would benefit from a lot of training and the chance to fulfil some of its working drives.

GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Wed 15-Jul-20 16:20:32

Sorry, that was in response to frosted.

suggestionsplease1 Wed 15-Jul-20 16:37:46

Your dog sounds a bit like how mine used to be OP, and sometimes still is - especially if overtired, so my first suggestion is that she should have somewhere safe to sleep undisturbed at times - eg a crate, or room o her own. My dog when he was younger would never switch off unless he had these forced rests - he was so much better in himself and around others after he had really slept.

The other things you can manage and desensitise a bit. So for example with the collar grabbing I would work between the 2 of you...you could start with her collar off and allow her to sniff it - give her a treat (one holds collar one holds treat), keep this up for a few times and then bring it closer to her or drape it around her neck - treat again - a few more trials. Fasten in around her neck - treat and praise again, unfasten, take it off - treat and praise again (you are only treating for when she responds positively rather than snapping - if she snaps she has gone above threshold - move away, make no fuss, ignore her and leave it to go back to another time the next day perhaps- at the step she last got to without reacting badly.

Continue building up her experience around you handling her collar with treats so that she gets the positive associations. Call her to you to touch it and rub around her neck and treat again. Build up to you reaching for her collar, more treats, and then gently moving her around by her collar - might take one of you to occupy her with treats whilst the other steers her! This will make it easier over time and worked fairly well for me.

However really you would probably benefit from getting reliable responses from her if possible rather than grabbing her collar - ie. getting her to follow an instruction to leave the cat, as even with all this work, although it will improve her tolerance of handling, she is still likely to have elevated arousal levels in some situations and revert to how she had previously behaved. I would also second slip lead suggestion to sort of lasso her without getting too close.

If she's sleeping don't reach for anything under her - order her 'up' and 'away' or 'off' and then get what you need. This puts her in the mindset that she is obeying you, rather than being invaded. If she reliably learns commands you will have to handle her less suddenly which she is reacting to.

I would recommend the book 'Mine!' byJean Donaldson, which goes into resolving body handling difficulties (and object, place and person guarding which often co-occur in dogs experiencing this).

Good luck!

Wolfiefan Wed 15-Jul-20 16:44:12

If grabbing the collar is a trigger then don’t. I often toss a treat where I want the giant pup to move!
You shouldn’t be trying to introduce the cat and the dog. The ideal is for the dog to ignore the cat.

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