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Hi there


My 6 year old BC (Tasman) was limping today and I asked my father to help me examine his paw. My Dad suggested that I put Tasman on his back so it would be easier to have a look, I held Tasman's mouth while my Dad had a look, then Tasman yelped and wrestled free and tried to bite my fathers throat.


I'm not sure if he was really trying to bite his throat but my Dad had a scratch on his face. Tasman has snapped at the vet in the past without making contact and so I hold his mouth when I examine any injury.


The only other behaviour like this he has exhibited is snapping at a child that lunged at him about 4 years ago. We do not let small children interact with him because he seems quite fearful of them.


I don't really know what to think, was it a bad idea to examine him on his back? Or has my dog got a serious aggression problem?


Any thoughts would be appreciated.



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Dear Doggers,


I wasn't there.


That said: A dog whose unused to being put on his back may well resist and may panic and resist. He is utterly helpless, forced into a submission position w/o any of the prior cues dogs offer before insisting on submission. It's as if you were - without prior warning - to find yourself being strapped into an electric chair.


Snapping in Border Collies rarely means an aggressive dog. Usually the dog is afraid.



Donald McCaig

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To put a dog on its back and restrain it like you did is doing something that is *very* anxiety-provoking to the dog. And, since the dog was also hurting in some way beforehand, that just made things worse. Your dog has already shown signs of being fearful and reacting in certain circumstances with what he perceives as his only defense, which is a threat to use his teeth on the person that's frightening him.


If your dog would have allowed it, it would have been best to try and look at his paw with him either standing, sitting, or possibly lying on his side - all positions that he *should* have felt more comfortable in.


Unless he had something like a thorn in his paw, examining it yourselves probably would not have told you something that you could do anything about. I'd suggest you let him take it easy a day or two to see if it improves. If the limp does not improve with reduced and gentle exercise, then maybe it would be time to see the vet, where the professional staff *should* have the skills to deal with restraining and handling him (although that's not always the case).


Good luck with this. I am sure others will give much better advice.


PS - I sincerely doubt he was trying to bite your father's throat but rather was snapping at his face which is not an uncommon reaction when a dog is fearful and trying (in his mind) to protect himself and drive off the one that he perceives as a threat.

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Agreed with what others have said. But, I also wanted to say that you might want to invest in a simple mesh muzzle for times when your dog needs to be examined and might bite. It's more secure and probably less scary than you trying to hold your dog's mouth shut.



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What everyone else said. ;) Turning an injured dog on his back is counter to every instinct he has. He panicked. And he wasn't going for your father's throat, he was just biting out of FEAR.


If I have a dog with a sore paw, I just pick up his paw the way I would a horse's foot. Or if it's a front paw, I'll have the dog sit and then pick the paw up. A dog in pain is already a dog under stress. A dog on his back is a dog under further stress. Double the stress = double the fear. If Tasman has a history of being a little fearful under intense situations, (vets, small children) then for goodness sakes, don't put him in fearful situations.


Dominance has NO place when dealing with an injured animal. The animal is not thinking, it's just reacting, and your dog panicked. End of story. That's not aggression. To a dog, it's instinctive self-preservation.


Don't do that again, and it won't happen again. Next time look at his injuries while he's in an upright position. You can always set him on a bench or table if it's too awkward to bend down.


Hope he's doing okay, now. :)


~ Gloria

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Hello again and thanks


Took Tasman to the vet and he used a muzzle (which I now have) while inspecting the paw. He couldn't find a lot so we got anti-inflammatories and pain relief.


He is on light duties for seven days, walking on the lead only. He is not limping much this morning which is a huge improvement.


Any suggestions for how to keep a BC from going nuts while he's on light duties?

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Mental stimulation. Invent games; like hide and seek with his toys, or with you, teach him simple tricks, like picking things up and placing it elsewhere.

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Hide-and-seek is a good game. There are also interactive toys that you put his kibble in, and he has to figure out or work at the toy to get the food out. Also good chews like raw bones, which help him be busy and keep his teeth clean at the same time.


You can fill a Kong with kibble and yogurt (or other combinations) and freeze it. It will take him a while to lick it clean but do that in a crate without a pad or you may have a real mess on your hands!


You can play a version of the shell game with small paper or opaque plastic cups, using a tasty treat for the prize. You start out showing him that you hide the treat under just one cup and teach him that he can knock over the cup to get the treat (or you can just teach him to touch or nudge the cup). You gradually add other, empty cups. Eventually, you do the whole game like you would with a person, including moving the cups around so he has to find out which one has the treat (this is best done with a dry treat or he will be confused by the scent trail left by a moist treat like chicken).


Good luck with this!

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