My Dog Bit Me! The Story and The Cure

My Dog Bit Me My dog bit me –Please help!   She called our office in tears, emotions flooding out over the phone.  Here’s her story

She put her dog’s food bowl down in the laundry room (that’s where her pup eats her meals) then she left to bundle up a load of clothes to be washed and    returned to laundry room.

She approached the washing machine, when suddenly, with no provocation, and out of nowhere, her dog lunged and bit her on the leg. BAM – like lightening!  Even weighing no more that 20 pounds – soaking wet – it was quite a bite!

She was shocked. Her beloved family dog, the one she’d raised since he was an 8 week old puppy, bit her on the leg for no apparent reason.

Think this couldn’t happen to you?

Unfortunately in some homes with dogs, the dog biting the owner, is replayed at least twice monthly (sometimes more) in varying degrees of seriousness.

It’s not always food bowl guarding either. Sometimes it is space on a couch, a chair or a bed which results in a dog bite.

I’ve been called to help with dogs that are guarding their own personal space on the floor. Or dogs who begin growling at an unsuspecting child who approaches to try and pick something up in the pup’s personal space.

This lady’s 3 year old mutt had grown up in the family since about 8 weeks of age and the owner admitted that she had always been a bossy little dog, from the minute she strolled in through the front door and parked herself on the couch.  With no structure in the home at all for the dog -the family was headed down the wrong path of life with her.  The consequence- the dog bit her.

What We Did
We began by putting this dog on an earn-to-learn program – sitting and downing for everything. All family members participated.

  • There were 4 family members: Mom, Dad and two teenage kids.
  • Each family member began one dedicated 3 minute training lesson of sits and downs each day with their dog, and each picked a time that fit their schedule for this dog  obedience training.
  • Limiting the dog training to 3 minute sessions made it very easy to commit to the training.
  • I then split the family into teams: Mother/daughter and father/son to do one more thing. Each team had to pick a time to do come, sit and down between each team member for only 2 minutes.
  • We used the back yard and the family room at first then began to call the dog room-to-room between team members.
  • This began to give the dog a sense of – who is doing what for whom.  This developed a new awareness of all family members.
  • There was a significant reduction of stress and anxiety.

We added two structured walks each day.

  • Each family member was assigned to a day so as not to give anyone the feeling of being over-burdened. If only one family member did all of this they would be overwhelmed with the task.
  • Next we started a gradual desensitization to family members and people around his food bowl, chew bones and space.

The final chore was to put all of this on a calendar that spanned two months and posted it on the refrigerator. And of course, Mom made sure everyone did their fair share.
I’m happy to say that there is no more food bowl or article guarding and the family could not be happier!

The key to their success
The key to their success in modifying their dog’s behavior was commitment.

The family committed (110%) to working their dog on the program.

It makes me one happy dog trainer to work with clients who recognize that only a serious commitment to working the plan will turn their dog around – and it has!
Consistency and repetition will begin to breed habit, so keeping structure in his life and expectations high is the key. They decided to continue their daily rituals with their dog indefinitely.

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Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are with the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”    [gplus count=”true” size=”Medium” ]

6 replies
  1. Jim
    Jim says:

    You need to hire a positive reinforcement trainer sooner than later to help teach you to teach your puppy the behavior you wants. A big part of that is you understanding how to set him up to be successful

  2. James
    James says:

    My dog bites me regularly while playing. I bought him a few chew toys, but still bites me when he gets bored with his toys. This article does not answer this.

    Also, repairmen alter his routine and he flips out during their time in the house and is overly-energized hours afterward. He is also extremely clingy, he over-reacts when I am away from his view.

  3. leila_admin
    leila_admin says:

    Desiree: dogs do not have the human emotions we tend to put on them, like remorse. Your dog appears to be showing some territorial aggression. You and your son need to

    set “Ground Rules” for your dog so that he understands how to live with you. All of this is done with positive reinforcement. But you have to understand how to communicate

    with your dog in a way he understands. I suggest you take a look at our “Ground Rules For Great Dogs” on our site

  4. Desiree
    Desiree says:

    May 2011: Received black lab from craigslist. previous owner college student couldn’t afford to care for dog. The black lab was underweight with hip bones prominently. He had was beautiful with a shiny black coat. He was being fed green beans from a can instead of dog food. His previous owner went to vehicle and the dog jumped our pool fence. Later that day we figured his leg was swollen. Vet visit indicated sprain. Prescribed pain meds, antibiotics, antidiarrheal.

    5 days after initially receiving the dog from previous owner, he bit me. He must have thought I was going to take a raw hide that he found. He bit my forearm no fracture or break. Significant bite.

    Yesterday, (17 May) he bit my 18 year old son. Dog sitting near table as I ate a piece of steak. Son started petting him. My son and I in conversation. My son was stand behind him petting him on his head. Dog turned looked at him. Looked at me eating. Growled at son and attacked biting his forearm. Bite was on a much smaller scale but did require a doctor visit to get antibiotics.

    He does show remorse afterward. He is loving even to the person he bites.

    What do you suggest?


  5. Victoria Barclay
    Victoria Barclay says:

    Actually, we hired you about 10 years ago to help with our standard Dachshund who suddenly bit me. Once you taught us the “hierarchy”, we saw differences immediately, within 24 hours. She never tried to bite me again. We recently rescued a dog from the streets and a few months after Jim’s help, we now have him playing with all size dogs in our dog park. He couldn’t even be in the same space as another dog before that. He has toy, food and space aggression, all of which are changing dramatically. He is also more confident, secure and loving.

    Thanks Jim!

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  1. […] emotional connection you create with your dog in the very beginning weeks and months of your relationshipwill form how he relates to and interacts with you, other family members, friends and strangers in […]

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