Hopps just bit my boyfriend

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hoppsmom
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Hopps just bit my boyfriend

Post by hoppsmom »

Ugh... So we were making progress... Hopps and I were with his whole eating problem. He was eating out of my hand the day before and letting me pet him on the head without growling, biting, or anything. So, I asked my boyfriend to feed him the next day at dinnertime. He asked Hopps to sit and wait for his food, and Hopps did, very well, and then he put Hopps bowl down with food, and Hopps was eating. Well my boyfriend, Brian, walked away, and I called Hopps name and took his water bowl and refilled it (which was right next to him). Hopps continued to eat, no problems. I refilled it, and walked away. Well Brian shifted in his seat in the kitchen (my apartment is really small!) and that set Hopps off! He stopped eating and just attacked Brian! Full on growling, baring his teeth, jumping up and biting Brian on the hand. His fur on the back of him was raised... so much he looked like a skunk! Hopps bit, but let go, however, he continued to display very clear aggression until Brian got out of the kitchen, and I got out of the kitchen. My guess is that when he was that aggressive, he was basically seeing "red" and just was attacking anyone that got near his food. Brian's finger got badly bit, and even after I cleaned it well with hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, and bandaged it up pretty good, it was still bleeding really good after an hour. So I finally convinced him to go to the dr, and it turned out okay, the dr just gave him antibiotics since it was an animal bite.

Hopps and Brian get along pretty well, and have known each other for awhile, so it wasn't like they were complete strangers. That is why I thought it would be okay if Brian fed Hopps, but apparently not! Its so weird because if I am in the kitchen while Hopps eats, he showed no signs of giving a darn about it. Hopps was in that "I'm so sorry" stage after the incident, and was his usual loving self around both me and Brian and there wasn't any more issues, but I was just so taken aback about it and frustrated!
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Barb Wright
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Re: Hopps just bit my boyfriend

Post by Barb Wright »

Oh crap ! I hate to say it, but that is strike one :( When a dog resorts to an actual bite you are in dangerous territory....a dog is fully capable of doing severe damage with those teeth, far more than just a bitten finger. You are going to have to continue to be VERY CAREFUL around Hopps where food is present. I would suggest not feeding him in a bowl where there is more food than a mouthful at a time. You are going to have to hand feed him or stand there and dish out small quantities, less than a mouthful at a time. I would also suggest a program of "earned" food which would be doing obedience exercises to earn the food. Sit, down, stay, come, wait, all worked on while you are hand feeding. The only alternative is to put the bowl down and leave the room, period.

This kind of resource guarding is a very serious issue, one you will have to continue to work on probably for a long, long time. Do not let anyone strange to the dog be involved in the feeding....as you see, even someone he knows is not safe. Hate to put it in such harsh terms, but reality is what it is :(
RIP Sweet Cassie 4/98 - 3/13

adele
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Re: Hopps just bit my boyfriend

Post by adele »

oh no! Like Barb said, this is serious and you're going to have to be very watchfull with Hobbs. I can't help with the training issues. Perhaps you should find a good trainer in your area? Someone with experience in agression? How's Brian taking it? I do know from reading that this is fixable - but only from reading. Poor Hobbs, you don't know what happened to him to make him this way. Wasn't he someone's foster before you got him. They didn't say anything to you about this?
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rtropeano
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Re: Hopps just bit my boyfriend

Post by rtropeano »

Oh so sorry. I agree 100% with Barb - be very very careful. At this point, I'd do everything Barb said and also, consider getting a behaviorist to work with you and Hopps.
You really want to get a handle on this right away. I know Behaviorists are typically more expensive than a regular dog trainer - but very well worth it in my opinion - esp. since Hopps escalated to biting someone he knows (and likes).

Also, I don't mean to be an alarmist - but until you get the guarding under control - I'd make him earn everything - i.e. food/Treats & toys. i.e. before you get a toy, you have to sit, etc. That would mean picking up his toys.

At this point, you should control all the resources - No chance he can guard something he doesn't have.

Hope this helps.
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hoppsmom
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Re: Hopps just bit my boyfriend

Post by hoppsmom »

yeah... the foster said that when he was at the spca he was one of the dogs that didn't get to eat much because the other more aggressive dogs ate all the food. so hopps did develop some food issues as a result of that, so they just fed him by himself in the kitchen. however, i did not know it could be that bad.

Brian felt bad for hopps because clearly hopps was worried brian was going to steal his food lol. Since then, I have worked with hopps some on using food as a reward and that seems to help, although he doesnt really seem to care about me being near him when he eats anyway, just other people (even people he knows and likes!). I so far havent had anyone else feed him, I dont think we are there yet.... baby steps right?
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adele
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Re: Hopps just bit my boyfriend

Post by adele »

Well, yeah! for Brian. Keep us posted on Hopps progress.
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hoppsmom
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Re: Hopps just bit my boyfriend

Post by hoppsmom »

so its been awhile, but now Hopps and I are in obedience school and... I can now safely put my hand in Hopps' bowl and he doesn't even stop eating! Its a slow start, I know, but we are getting there! Now it is just a matter of sneaking behind him without him caring, petting him without him being upset, etc.
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Cindy
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Re: Hopps just bit my boyfriend

Post by Cindy »

Sounds like you're off to a good start - now it's just time, repetition, and patience.
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adele
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Re: Hopps just bit my boyfriend

Post by adele »

Good for both of you! Its satisfying, isn't it. Communicating to the dog that he doesn't need to get upset about something and actually having him understand.
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rtropeano
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Re: Hopps just bit my boyfriend

Post by rtropeano »

Small steps - you'll get there - you're making great progress.
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hoppsmom
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Re: Hopps just bit my boyfriend

Post by hoppsmom »

Just to give you all a quick update...

So its been awhile and Hopps and I are on week 5 into our training... so far he has made huge improvements!

First of all, I rarely feed him in his bowl anymore, I've been getting him used to a crate so I've been feeding him in there, as well as just dropping piles of food on the floor (about half on one spot, half another spot). For some reason, seeing another pile of food while eating the one really helps him to feel more relaxed, maybe since it is pictorally clear that food isn't scarce to him, so no need to protect it. Also, Hopps has learned to share his rawhides! After a quick reminder of share, he will happily chew on any size rawhide on one side, while allowing me to hold onto the other.

And for the negative...

I haven't taken Hopps to the dog park in probably 3 weeks. But the last time we went, Hopps got a little defensive about the dog park water... guarding it, and even bit (warningly, the owner wasn't mad, other dog was fine, thank god) another dog on the nose. I promptly took him out of the park, and because of safety and legal reasons, we have not returned. That particular day was very hot and I forgot to bring his own water, which are probable reasons, but I am not going to risk it happening again. He doesn't HAVE to be a dog park dog afterall, and he gets plenty of socialization and fun with other dogs that I know personally.
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Barb Wright
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Re: Hopps just bit my boyfriend

Post by Barb Wright »

Good thinking :!: Always keep in mind that Hopps is a "guarder"....there doesn't have to be need for what he is guarding, he just feels the necessity to protect resources. Once you figure out all the things that he considers "important" then you can be up to speed when to pay particular attention to what is going on at any particular moment, wherever you are.
RIP Sweet Cassie 4/98 - 3/13

adele
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Re: Hopps just bit my boyfriend

Post by adele »

Its good news that he's come so far! So, there is still some work to do.. big deal. He's making progress and that is encouraging. You are obviously committed to helping him - that is what's important. I had trouble with Lola reacting to other dogs years ago. She has come so far and is almost like a different dog (I have to say "almost" because some big dogs still get a reaction. I know it, I'm prepared for it, and I know how to deal with it.). This is going to take a while and --- according to the books I've read --- there will be some backsliding, it happens and you have to be aware of it and not let it discourage you. So celebrate the victorys and just learn from the mistakes. Give Hopps a big hug.
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