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Dear Your Own Vet’s Behaviorist,
Dogs that bite their owners are a common problem
I have a 22 month year old dog. We got her at 13 months old and she had 2 previous owners in her first year of life. We can tell she has some anxiety issues because when she gets stressed out, she catches invisible flies in the air. She is the perfect dog, we all love her, and doesn’t she know it. She is also very affectionate, especially to me! In my family, I’m the only one she greets when I come home, I am the only one she will cuddle properly. She is BRILLIANT at flyball! She also does obedience and is top of the class. She is perfect except for a MASSIVE problem.
Why would my dog bite me?
She can be quite aggressive. Not with any other members of the family or other people, (she especially loves children) it’s just one time, when I was filling up her water bowl and I put it down next to her, I heard her growl. In shock I went to take her water bowl from her (stupid I know) and she went crazy and started biting my hand, it didn’t hurt and it didn’t draw blood luckily. This is not the first time she has shown aggression to me. She has also bared her teeth at me when I was stroking her a few times whist she was relaxing, I shouldn’t have to be cautious when I stroke my own dog! This aggression isn’t getting worse, but the point is, it’s continuing, and I’m worried that it will get worse.
She’s a dominant dog and I’ve wondered if she’s trying to challenge my position as leader. I don’t know what to do.
Thanks for contacting me about your problem with your dog.
Sadly as you didn’t have her as a puppy, she has come with “baggage”. You don’t know what really happened in her first home and these issues are coming to the fore at yours.
It is very serious when a dog bites you, and even growls at you. Sadly, it can be when you give a dog so much love to make up for a bad past. The dog needs to know that you love her, but you are higher in rank and she needs to respect this. She seems to be treating you as another dog – and this would be the way that she would behave with another dog.
I believe that she has nervous aggression and this can be dangerous as these kind of dogs are unpredictable.
Clicker training can help with aggression
I’m sorry that you don’t live near me here in South Africa as you need to have a behaviourist asses your dog and give you positive advice about how to change the behaviour. It is very difficult to give advice when I haven’t seen the dog.
Behaviour modification using clicker and lots of positive reinforcement will show her the correct way to behave with you and other people.
I would suggest that you try to get hold of a good behaviourist near you and they will be able to help.
Accredited Companion Animal Behaviourist &Professional Dog Trainer