risha: (Sad Batman :()
[personal profile] risha
So, I've reached complete failure as a dog mom. I just bought a heavy duty muzzle.

About three to four weeks ago, something apparently went "twang" in Duncan's brain, and he decided that he needed to full out attach Zach. I have no idea if there was a previous incident that I had missed, or if Duncan had decided he was tired of being the pack outcast, or if he just decided that Zach smelled funny. Seriously, there was no warning - I happened to be looking in that direction when he threw himself off the couch to rush an unsuspecting Zach from across the room. I tore them apart, getting a hand bitten in the process.

(Zach is not the easy choice of a victim, by the way. He's a 45+ pound Basset Hound/Pit Bull mix. He once took down an attacking Mastiff at the dog park - threw him up against the fence and put him on the ground, teeth at throat, in a matter of seconds. No dogs were harmed in the making of this anecdote, but it did mark the first time I'd been bitten by a dog - not Zach.)

Duncan spent the next few days going into a (not literal) frothing fury every time he saw Zach. The other two dogs? The four cats? Me? All fine. Zach on the other side of a pet gate? Full on freak out. As a consequence, he spent the next three days in the laundry room, and then a couple of more in the hallway behind my new heavy steel pet gate. At least there he could see the others so he wasn't completely isolated. Finally he seemed to calm down, and was released under careful supervision. Nevertheless, later that week - repeat. (And bite #2, this time to the arm.) And repeat the week after that. (No more bites! Heavy leather gloves are your friend.)

So far I'm the only one who's actually been injured in all of this. But it's been several days since Duncan has been permitted to be around the other dogs except under very specific conditions, and that's not going to change anytime soon. All this isolation cann't be helping him mentally, though, so a couple of days ago I bought a mesh muzzle from PetSmart. He is a miserable, miserable, curled-up-ball-of-sofa-misery, but he's out with me and among the other dogs for the evenings at least, and there's nothing he can do to attack Zach.

Poor Zach does jump now when Duncan starts a growling fit, though, which he's still doing a few times a night. D:

I've tried everything I can think of, so I'm going to be calling in a professional - I was just waiting for today's paycheck to make it possible. I've been shutting him down the instant any growling starts, and coming down like a pile of bricks in general for any infraction. (And I'm usually laughably permissive.) He knows I'm in charge, and that I'm mad at him, and he shows every body language sign of being completely cowed. He gets that he's stuck in the hallway by himself during the day and in the muzzle in the evening and not allowed to sleep with mom at night like everyone else, and he hates everything about all of that. Until Zach's in the room and he's freaking out and apparently can't think of anything else.

But a mesh muzzle isn't meant to be worn for long periods of time, and absolutely never unsupervised. Even if the professional mystically fixes him in a day (...a pleasant thought, but highly unlikely), it's going to be a long time before I trust him unmuzzled around Zach. So: the wire muzzle of nighttime-only permanentness.


on 2011-07-30 01:37 pm (UTC)
zellieh: Country landscpe, rolling hills, sunny day; text : Peace (text: peace. peaceful landscape)
Posted by [personal profile] zellieh
I strongly recommend "Don't Shoot The Dog" by Karen Pryor. It's a small book about training using positive re-inforcement, the approach that came out of modern psychological studies of animal behaviour and Skinnerian behavioural conditioning, that led to clicker training.

It's a great book! it might be written by a PhD professional animal trainer, but it's not a scientific textbook, just an easy-to-read guide that debunks some old myths about animal training and human and animal psychology.

I'd also like to warn you against The Dog Whisperer. Cesar Millan's heart is in the right place, but he started out as a dog shampooist with no formal training, and a lot of his philosophy is old-fashioned and/or just plain wrong.

More to the point, when you're dealing with a dog that bites, all his nonsense about 'pack behaviour', 'pack alpha', and 'dominance' can actually be dangerous. There's a reason the TV show warns people not to try Cesar's methods at home -- training based on fear and physical coercion can make frightened/stressed/aggressive dogs worse. Cesar's able to take these risks because he has decades of experience, but he's still been bitten several times, and dogs have been injured on his show.

Here's a post that explains this: http://www.4pawsu.com/dogpsychology.htm It also has a lot of other links there, if you want to do more reading.

There's also this article at the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sophia-yin/experts-say-dominance-bas_b_204482.html

I strongly recommend Dr Sophia Yin, here: http://drsophiayin.com/

Sorry this comment's so long, but this a hot-button issue for me. Dogs that bite aren't bad dogs; often they're ill, or misunderstood.


risha: Illustration for "Naptime" by Martha Wilson (Default)


Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 19th, 2017 08:29 pm

March 2015

2223 2425262728