I thought this exchange was worth sharing… Comes from my animal group on AARP.org Dog Blog Group. Original Post:
Need some advice if any of you has had experience with this. Our GSD is 2 yrs old and in the past 3 days has bitten both my husband and myself as we tried to take a bone from her-two separate occasions. My bite was very hard and unexpected-I was taking a beef-jerky bone from in front of her-it was not in her mouth, just on the floor. But her paws were on each side of it. I said “you finished yours-and that one is for Levi”-she barked viciously as I had never heard her before and immediately sunk her teeth into my hand. I had to go to the emergency room to get it washed out, a tetanus shot and was put on antibiotics.
So yesterday my husband tried the same thing-don’t ask me why. He thought he was immune. She did not get him as hard but I heard her same wild bark and knew what had happened. Our trainers said she needs firmer control and possession-aggression classes. My doctor said whatever we do, don’t re-home her (which we would not as we would not want this to happen to someone else). I am waiting to consult with my vet, but just wondered if anyone had other experiences. She has been in training since she was a pup-both obedience and protection and is very well-taken care of.
I think the older a dog gets the more possessive he gets of his food. I was bitten by a dachshund and she was eating a treat I gave her. She was the gentlest dog I’ve ever cared for. However, from that incident, I learned never to reach down or interfere when they are eating or have food within their possession. Just a rule of thumb with dogs, no matter how well-trained a dog might be.
Did something happen or was there some kind of event prior to those three days?
Aas she ever bitten before for any other reason?
Who is levi? Another Pet?
My ex has a huge German Shepherd that’s only a year and a half. Scout was displaying the same tendency your dog is – so I told them not to give him any bones for a while and began teaching him the command ‘Give” .
I wore heavy gloves, held one of his favorite toys – a Ty-Baby cat – and commanded him to sit. He was very excited at the sight of the cat and it took a couple commands. When he sat I told him ‘Good Scout’ and held out the cat. He’d start to lunge for it and I’d command, NO. Then I’d make him sit again. Finally, he’d sit and just watch it. Then I threw it and he brought it back into the room and I would (with the glove on) grasp the cat still in his mouth and tell him “GIVE” as I forced his mouth open and removed it. Then we started all over again. It took several days with an hour training session for him to understand the rules of the game and the commands.
Then, still wearing the glove, I changed the cat to a bone and after about an hour, he was playing the game. Now when my ex or his wife wants to remove something, Scout is made to SIT and if he tries to pick up the bone, he must GIVE.
One good deterrent I’ve found is a large spray bottle with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. If he’s barking and acting up or running around, or jumping on people in his excitement – all they have to do now is pick up the bottle and he retreats to his bed.
P.S. I’m 5 foot 3 inches and when he puts his paws on my shoulders, I have to look UP to tell him to SIT.
Good luck and don’t forget the heavy glove.
I agree with all three of the previous comments. I think the re-training attempt with the glove is certainly worth a try!! …Or perhaps getting some input from a private trainer. It is odd that all of a sudden out of nowhere your dog would become that aggressive over her bone/food for no reason. However, many dogs are aggressive or protective when it comes to food. It is in their nature, especially if you have more than one dog!! Is Levi a second dog?
We have 4 (long story) a pure breed Chihuahua (mom), a Chiweenie – Chihuahua Weener Dog Mix (dad) and two of their pups. The mom, who was always so even tempered has become somewhat possessive with her food and even became aggressive at times, but only with food, after the puppies grew up and stayed. She has bitten me and my husband on occasion when she thought we were going to take away her food and will snap at the other dogs (over food)… but otherwise she is the most easy going dog in the world. And now that the pups know better, she has calmed down. She has claimed her dominant spot as the Alpha Dog among the pack of 4.
I think that some of it is instinct in dogs to protect their food… if you have more than one. And I also think that sometimes it happens if they feel they are not getting their share of attention. We over acknowledged and petted the mom for awhile as she went through this phase and that seemed to help a lot. My husband also turned it into a game. If she starts to growl over a treat… He calls her name and says, “Cookie?? Your Cookie??” in a joyful manner and moves toward her… She then immediately barks and then grabs the treat and the game is over.
I realize that a German Shepherd bite is scarier than a Chihuahua bite, but I would try not to over-react on the negative side. Also, now that you’ve had your Tetanus shot, if it is your own dog and just a nip type of bite… even if it is hard, you shouldn’t need to go to the emergency room or doctor if it happens again. They also often over-react.
Children often go through biting phases when things are bothering them and I think the same thing happens sometimes with pets.
My two cents…
Excerpts from The Ten Commandments for Pet Guardians:
2. Give me time to understand what you want from me. Please don’t break my spirit with your temper, though I will always forgive you. Your patience and kindness and love will teach me much more effectively.
4. Treat me with loving kindness, my beloved friend, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for your kindness and love than mine. Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. After all, you have your job, your friends, your family, your entertainment. I have only you.
7. Please, PLEASE don’t hit me. It hurts me, it confuses me, and it saddens me beyond words.
8. Before you hurt my feelings and confuse me by scolding me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me or making me sick. Perhaps I’m not getting the right food or I’ve been out in the sun too long or my heart may be getting weak or I’m sad because you’ve been gone too long.
She’s in YOUR world and she’s doing the best she can with what she’s been given to work with. But, something’s wrong. Please try to figure it out and help her.
Is there such a thing as too much training?
Posted: Just One More Pet