Jump to content
BC Boards

Recommended Posts

I just found this website and I wish I had found it so much sooner. I want to delve in and read all the posts but I have a serious problem and I need help stat.

About 2 years ago my family (my mom, dad, sister, and me) adopted a 1 1/2 year old male short-haired smooth-coat collie (who we named Tucker). He was stray when he was found with no chip or collar. He was picked up 5 counties away from where my family lives so we don't know anything about his history. When we picked him up at the shelter, he didn't even have a name let alone answer to it.

We worked with a trainer (Mark Frederick, if anyone is familiar with him) and I was the one (due to my schedule) who took over training. We also have a female white GSD of the same age (named Dakota) so 2 herding dogs in one house requires A LOT of walks and A LOT of training. Until I got a steady job, we were fine because I was able to devote so much time and attention to walking, training, and playing. Once I got a steady job the training decreased and while Dakota needed extra walks to balance out the lack of training, Tucker started lashing out (for lack of a better term) by biting friends and family. He's mainly bitten people in the butt so there's no broken skin but there's a deep bruise and it hurts for days. The most severe incident was with my sister.

When I lived at home, he would sleep on my bed with me. She was in my room and handing me a charging cable when Tucker, who was lying on the bed next to me, out of nowhere jumped up and bit her in the face/upper lip area. I've noticed a slight trend of biting in the nose area? I don't know, and can't say, if he was aiming for the nose or just her face in general, but he practically bit off half of her upper lip. She was rushed to the ER and required almost 20 stitches. Blessedly, he had just received his shots and was given a clean bill of health so there was no severe danger of infection but she did have to say it was a dog bite for antibiotics just in case.

I know he's on thin ice so I was working with him as much as I could but within the last 7 months, my sister and I moved out on our own and our parents moved about an hour away so for 7 months he hasn't had a real training regimen let alone a walking schedule. My mom does what she can in terms of walks but my dad...he doesn't discipline properly so I don't trust him to train. I don't like how he handles anything with the dogs but that's a completely different issue.

Yesterday my aunt and uncle were visiting my parents and Tucker struck again--he bit my uncle in the butt and tore his jeans. I wasn't in the room so I didn't see what happened. We had double-dosed his anxiety meds (with vet permission) but he still struck. Now I have to deal with the decision of putting him down, which pretty much all my family is on board with. He's bitten my mom in the butt and my sister in the face, two family friends 3 times, and now my uncle for a total of 6 bites, 1 severe. 

I feel like he's paying the price because my parents (especially my dad) aren't willing to put in the work of giving Tucker the physical and mental exercise he needs. Am I biased? Am I reading this entire situation wrong? Is there an option I'm not thinking of? I don't want to put my familial relationships on the line because of a dog, but I feel as if there are other avenues we can take. We can't afford another bite and my mom and sister have said they don't feel entirely comfortable in the house with him.

Literally other than this, he's the sweetest boy possible. We've had him for 2 years and this pattern started about 10 months ago. We can't figure out the trigger so we can't predict when he'll snap. 

380080685_DakotaandTuck.thumb.jpg.3a2e6061a4629ffe5460ca16af0118d5.jpg

This is a picture I took of both dogs as they were getting ready for a hiking trip I took them on. It's the only one on my computer at the moment. I'm rambling now but any help with this would be much appreciated. I will answer any additional questions if you have any.

Thanks in advance!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am so sorry you're having to deal with this. I've not had a behavioral issue of this kind ever, so I can only speak from what I've read or heard. 

Tucker has bitten a lot of people, in several different situations. Two things I can see that you could do differently is have him crated in a different room w/a closed door whenever there is anyone but you around. That's a hard way to live. Tucker might be vocal and bark/moan/howl when shut away from you. He'd possibly be more anxious than he is now. 

The second thing is to try a different medication. Are you able to work with a veterinary behaviorist?

If he gets more stressed when crated and there isn't another med to try, I believe you're faced with putting him down. he is not a dog I could advise re-homing.

Perhaps someone else will have other ideas you could explore.

Ruth & Gibbs

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a pretty serious situation.

And my heart goes out to you because I know this is a terrible place you are in with regard to this dog you obviously care about. I am so sorry this is happening.

First, I would like to know what you have done on the occasions when he bit someone. What was your reaction? What training have you been giving him - a) in general, and b) with regard to the biting? 

The second thing I will say is that no matter what, you need help from a highly qualified professional to evaluate this dog and work with him to see if this behavior can be changed. At this point you don't know if it can be changed or not. It is possible that with the correct training, and consistency in appropriate living conditions this can be turned around. But this work with the behaviorist will be expensive and will take a good deal of time. If you are not prepared or able to spend the money and the time to work with this dog very seriously you will need to give him up. Whether this means having him killed or finding him a home with someone who is willing and able to take him on (which is, sadly, unlikely), you would have to find out by investigating your options. 

If you feel that your father is not handling the dog correctly or, even more if you think there's a chance that his behavior toward the dog could in any way be exacerbating his inclination to bite, you must get him away from that influence immediately, whatever that takes, and have him with you. Even if the above is not the case,  it sounds to me as though you need to get him out of that living situation with your folks and bring him to live with you. Even if that means you have to move. You may need to decide what your priority is.

If you are ready to reply to this by saying you cannot do any one or all of these things because of your circumstances, then you need to make a decision. At this point he is a liability to everyone who is in charge of him, and if he gets reported for biting it will probably mean quarantine, fines, and a possible death sentence for him, under poor conditions.  A dog like this cannot just be allowed to continue to live with people who are not prepared to work with him effectively.

I know I sound blunt, but as I said, this is serious. I wish I could help, but over the internet it is not really possible except to say what I have said above. I wish you the best of luck for resolving this and hope you will let us know how it goes.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Both of these were written almost back-to-back so I'll reply to both in this message.

Quote

Tucker might be vocal and bark/moan/howl when shut away from you.

He actually isn't that vocal. He'll bark at loud trucks on the street or when Dakota starts barking, but that's about it. He doesn't howl or moan or whine, which is good.

Quote

have him crated in a different room w/a closed door whenever there is anyone but you around.

Considering I live an hour away and I only get to visit on the weekends as my schedule allows...I've thought about that too. I've thought about crating him when people are over but I fear my dad would take it too far and crate him all the time because Tucker wants to play 90% of the day.

Quote

The second thing is to try a different medication. Are you able to work with a veterinary behaviorist?

It's definitely something we're talking about. We've already dropped at least a grand into training him (and other than this, he's very well trained) so we're working with the vet on medications. The vet did offer to give us the name of a trainer who deals with high-risk cases like him, but how much money do we want to continue spending vs when is it inevitable and we're playing with fire?

Quote

what you have done on the occasions when he bit someone. What was your reaction? What training have you been giving him - a) in general, and b) with regard to the biting?

The instant reaction is shock and surprise and making sure the person was okay. I pull Tucker away and would either put him outside, in a spare room, or in his cage to keep him separate while we're making sure everything is okay. We train on a zapper collar (which he always has on) so I clip on his leash and give him barely enough leash to walk. Then I lead him to the person and in a calm, but firm tone, say "no biting" while momentarily  zapping on 'no'. I'll do this several times and lead him back out of the room. 

General training is on and off leash walking, heel, sit, down, stay, extended stay, stay while someone is moving around, come, multiple commands in a row (sit, down, come, sit, down within 10 seconds and 100 feet). For mental exercise, I taught him the names of his toys, different tricks with catching a ball, putting his pack on him with a water bottle in it so he has to mind the weight while walking. 

Quote

you need to get him out of that living situation with your folks and bring him to live with you. Even if that means you have to move.

If had the option of moving out on my own and taking him with me, I would. I can't afford to live by myself and I certainly can't afford a mortgage if I'm barely making rent with my sister. I also don't want to force her to live with the dog that bit her. I also want to take the GSD with me to give her the proper care she needs so the problem of care isn't specifically just for the collie. It's more of "my parents are older and don't want a lot of responsibility but adopted 2 herding dogs and don't know how to handle it" deal.
I can teach my dad to work with him effectively, it's more a matter of he won't do it. He's almost...70? And to him, he's meant to be watching TV and not taking dogs to the park. That infuriates me to no end but he hasn't changed in 30 years so he's not about to change now. (My mom is a teacher and she totally does some training but not enough because of her schedule).

Quote

I know I sound blunt, but as I said, this is serious. I wish I could help, but over the internet it is not really possible except to say what I have said above.

No, I need blunt. I need someone with no personal attachment to the situation to look at this and help me point to what's best. In a perfect world we could figure out his trigger and avoid it or he wouldn't bite at all. But it's not so I have to deal with this. 

Of course I'll keep you guys updated. I have fallen in love with collies and no matter how this situation turns out, I will be adopting another :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
43 minutes ago, jonesgirl88 said:

We train on a zapper collar (which he always has on) so I clip on his leash and give him barely enough leash to walk. Then I lead him to the person and in a calm, but firm tone, say "no biting" while momentarily  zapping on 'no'. I'll do this several times and lead him back out of the room. 

By zapper collar, do you mean an electronic collar? After he bites you leash him and take him the person he bit, then you shock him several times then take him out of the room? 

If that's a fair summary of what you've been doing, IMO, you've taught this dog to fear these people. You take him to them, on leash, proceed to shock him while he's standing close to them, and then walk him away.

Sweet Jesus, I'd be biting whatever was in front of me, too. It seems to me that there's an excellent chance that he's biting those folks because he associates pain with being close to them. And keep shocking him? He's never, ever, ever gonna biting if that's what's happening. Please, tell me if I'm mis-reading this or you can explain it more clearly.

R & G

Link to post
Share on other sites

Like others, I really feel for you in this situation.

You say this started about 10 months ago -- before you got the full time job and than later moved away, right?

The first question then is what changed or happened 10 months ago? Among other things, did he get any vaccinations, especially rabies, at that time?

1 hour ago, jonesgirl88 said:

We train on a zapper collar (which he always has on) so I clip on his leash and give him barely enough leash to walk. Then I lead him to the person and in a calm, but firm tone, say "no biting" while momentarily  zapping on 'no'. I'll do this several times and lead him back out of the room.  

By "zapper collar" do you mean a shock collar? If so, when did this begin?

Shock collar training can cause aggression all on it's own. But the way you're using it is almost guaranteed to create an aggressive dog. Ruth's post came in as I was writing and I can't stress enough how correct her remarks are.

This of this what things look like from the dog's point of view: Dog does something "bad" (I say this because the pattern most likely started well before there was any biting involved). Then there's a pause while you assess the situation -- IOW there are no immediate consequences for the dog. Following that, while the dog is doing nothing wrong, you leash him up, force him to approach the person he just had an issue with, and then attack him with a "bite" from the collar . . . not once, but several times? You've effectively taught him that people are unpredictably vicious and he has to defend himself from them by biting first.

You've just demonstrated exactly why shock collars in the hands of people who don't know how to use them can become a death sentence for the poor dog. IMO, there are very few instances of appropriate uses of shock collars to begin with and this is perhaps the most egregious example of their misuse I've ever seen.

So, where do you go from here?  You've got a badly traumatized and damaged dog with a serious bite history living with people who don't know how to handle him. Hell, there wouldn't be many people who would be capable of safely handling him. For a number of reasons you can't take him out of the situation, and even if you did with your training methods you'd almost certainly make him worse and not better.

If you take him to a shelter he'll be euthanized because of his bite history. Very, very few rescues (if any) would be able to take him in for liability reasons. And there's no way that you can conscientiously give him to someone else and risk their ending up being hurt, maimed or worse (and if you knowingly give the dog to someone else without disclosing his history you'll be legally responsible when -- not if -- he hurts someone else). That leaves you with one alternative.

You said you want blunt. From where I sit it looks like your family took a very nice dog in and ruined him. You created his triggers and as you put it, now he's going to have to pay the price.

My heart goes out to this poor boy.

Link to post
Share on other sites

After rereading that, I phrased that horribly. Sorry, I'm emotionally drained and it's coming out in poor wording. 

After a bite, we separate Tucker from the person. He would stay in my room/his cage/outside and I take him there by leash and let him calm down away from the commotion. After the person leaves I lead him back to the site where he bit and by body language, he remembers what happened. That's when I zap him and then lead him away. For example, one time he bit in the kitchen so later that evening, I led him back into the kitchen and zapped him before taking him outside to work off energy through a training walk.

And I say "zapper collar", that's the term my mom came up with ages ago and it stuck for our family. It's a training collar by Garmin on one of the lowest settings where we use the 'nick' or 'momentary' button. The only time I've ever used continuous was on accident.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

All he knows from this is that you take him to the place where he's already been stressed to the point that he felt the need to bite. Then, while he's doing absolutely nothing -- actually he's already telling you by his body language that he's already frightened -- he gets zapped again. Now the location and any memories associated with it make it an even more fearful place. It is, as I said before, one of the most egregious misuses of an already extreme and punitive training method I've ever heard of.

Nothing you've said in your follow up changes my previous assessment. You created this dog with your aggressive treatment and now you -- well, actually your dog -- have to face the consequences.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

The first question then is what changed or happened 10 months ago?

For the past year and a half, my parents have been in the process of selling the house, I got a stable job a year ago, my sister and I moved 7 months ago, and they moved about 3 months after that. The only thing that changed was the amount of training he was being given.

Basic timeline (I don't know if this helps):
Stray for a year and a half (born about 08/2015 if my backwards calendar math is correct)
Adopted in 02/2017
Started training in 02/2017 (within a few days of adoption)
Stable job 01/2018 (training decreased)
First bite 05/2018
Sister bite 06 or 07/2018
My sister and I move out 09/2018 (training and walks decrease more)
My parents move 12/2018
Most recent bite 03/2019

Quote

By "zapper collar" do you mean a shock collar? If so, when did this begin?

A training collar? It could also be called a shock collar. We've been training him and the GSD since day one with it. We hadn't had a problem with Tucker for over a year (after taking him to multiple parks and populated areas) and we've never had a problem with Dakota. The first and second bites we didn't really correct, we told him 'no', but nothing more than that because we thought it might have been instigated. Then the bite with my sister happened. 
We've never zapped either dog for something they can't control or something we haven't trained them not to do. We've owned 4 other dogs, all of whom we've trained (with help from the trainer mentioned above) with a zapper and never had this problem. At this point, it's more of a "oh, I'm wearing this so I have to behave". We vibrate it more than anything to get them to gently break concentration in the yard (they both have a thing for chasing cars).

Yes, zappers can be dangerous in the wrong hands. I understand where your fear of us creating the triggers is coming from. I want to say it's unfounded but I will sit back and look and talk with my family to see if this was something we created. The only reason I want to say we didn't create the triggers is because the problems didn't start immediately, they started several months after I had to stop training as much.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Now the location and any memories associated with it make it an even more fearful place.

But that would mean he would be afraid of that one particular location and he's not afraid to return to the couch or kitchen or other locations. Even if we go broad, he would be fearful of the old house in general. But with the latest bite, he was in a completely new location so there couldn't be any fear of discipline, yet he still bit.

In every situation too, there's no loud noises, no sudden movement, no one bothering him. No one has ever pulled his tail or ears or hit him (as much as we know since he was stray) so he has no reason to retaliate. People are standing around talking and he has plenty of room to maneuver--he has to go out of his way to bite. 

I know zapper collars are controversial because they are so easy to misuse. That's why we don't discipline when we're angry, we never use excessive punishment, and we always use the lowest setting. It's also why we work with a trainer. We found him through a friend and when we saw the effectiveness of zap collars as he trained with them and how they are a tool in the arsenal of training, we agreed to try it. We've also used flat leash training, choker collars, and clicker training along with a zapper collar as a whole approach. 
If what you're proposing is true (that we misused the zapper collar and created fear), then he would be scared to be around anyone who's ever corrected him (which would be mainly me) or any place he's ever been corrected and that's not true. He slept in my bed until I moved out (and continues to sleep with me at my parents house when I visit) and I jokingly call him "my shadow" because when I'm around he follows me like a shadow.

I don't mind bluntness, I do appreciate it, but when what's happening doesn't match up with what you're saying should be happening then we're having a failure of communication or a failure of understanding. I have received wonderful ideas of what to do (switching meds, talking with my parents about training and increasing mental exercise) and how to go about that. I'll definitely update on what happens.

Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, jonesgirl88 said:

For the past year and a half, my parents have been in the process of selling the house, I got a stable job a year ago, my sister and I moved 7 months ago, and they moved about 3 months after that. The only thing that changed was the amount of training he was being given.

No. Just no. The HUGE thing that happened is his pack broke apart, and comes together again, unpredictably. That's very, very big in a dog's life. So, the pack breaks up, he lives with your parents, (and your dad isn't capable of handling him correctly) and sees you intermittently. When he does see you, he likely gets shocked. Is your dad shocking him when you're not around? And there's all the flurry of putting the house on the market, selling, then moving. There's so much uncertainty and fear there for a dog it's horrendous.

You said it in the above post "The problems started several months after I had to stop training so much.' So, it's a kind of slow build of stress 1) You move away, leaving him with someone you say doesn't handle dogs well. The time goes by. 2) He sees you infrequently, and you're likely splitting your time between him and your parents. You're not there enough to provide any sort of continuity for him. 3) Things continue to be chaotic. I've worked for people getting their houses ready to sell and then while the house was on the market. It's incredibly stressful. The dog picks up on all that chaos and stress for months. 4) He starts to bite. You start to hurt him. 5) At some point, he got moved entirely from his home to the new home.

This kind of situation is an absolute nightmare for any dog who bonds strongly with 1 human, but doesn't get to live with that human. It's not a matter of having less training, it's a matter of 1) he lives with someone who very possibly doesn't treat him well, and 2) the human he might have bonded with is unpredictable at best, as there is pain/fright sometimes when she leashes him up.

B collies have a very strong tendency to bond strongly w/one human. I had one who LIVED to say hi to strangers, he just loved meeting new people. At the end of the day, though, he was my boy through and through.  

You should seriously consider euthanizing this dog. He's not going to get better, only worse. At this point he might not be capable of being less reactive. If he's still living with your parents, they could have a lawsuit on their hands if he bites. The entire situation makes me really, really sad.

Ruth & Gibbs

Link to post
Share on other sites

I just read your post that went up as I was typing mine. Even if all of what you say is true, this is still a dog who bites unpredictably. And he's gone at someone's face unexpectedly, Nothing you have done has changed that, he seems to be getting worse. 

We could analyze it all for days, and he'd still be a dog who has bitten several times. Euthanize him. 

Ruth & Gibbs

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

11 minutes ago, urge to herd said:

No. Just no. The HUGE thing that happened is his pack broke apart, and comes together again, unpredictably. That's very, very big in a dog's life. So, the pack breaks up, he lives with your parents, (and your dad isn't capable of handling him correctly) and sees you intermittently. When he does see you, he likely gets shocked. Is your dad shocking him when you're not around? And there's all the flurry of putting the house on the market, selling, then moving. There's so much uncertainty and fear there for a dog it's horrendous.

You said it in the above post "The problems started several months after I had to stop training so much.' So, it's a kind of slow build of stress 1) You move away, leaving him with someone you say doesn't handle dogs well. The time goes by. 2) He sees you infrequently, and you're likely splitting your time between him and your parents. You're not there enough to provide any sort of continuity for him. 3) Things continue to be chaotic. I've worked for people getting their houses ready to sell and then while the house was on the market. It's incredibly stressful. The dog picks up on all that chaos and stress for months. 4) He starts to bite. You start to hurt him. 5) At some point, he got moved entirely from his home to the new home.

This kind of situation is an absolute nightmare for any dog who bonds strongly with 1 human, but doesn't get to live with that human. It's not a matter of having less training, it's a matter of 1) he lives with someone who very possibly doesn't treat him well, and 2) the human he might have bonded with is unpredictable at best, as there is pain/fright sometimes when she leashes him up.

B collies have a very strong tendency to bond strongly w/one human. I had one who LIVED to say hi to strangers, he just loved meeting new people. At the end of the day, though, he was my boy through and through.  

You should seriously consider euthanizing this dog. He's not going to get better, only worse. At this point he might not be capable of being less reactive. If he's still living with your parents, they could have a lawsuit on their hands if he bites. The entire situation makes me really, really sad.

Ruth & Gibbs

I was just typing the same thing.  Routine can be huge to a BC.  Your parents had their house on the market for a year and a half.  That is very stressful.  My Mum has had her house on the market for three months and she is a wreck.  Don't think Tucker didn't pick up on that.  Plus cleaning for inspections, strange people coming through the house, it is all difficult.  Added on top all of the changes with his beloved person going away and coming back irregularly.  His routine completely out the window.  Who knows what is happening with the collar when you are gone.

Look up trigger stacking.  That is what has happened here. 

I am not a fan of zapper/shock collars.  Fortunately, where I live in Australia, they are actually illegal.

I never want a BC to die.  I think you have no choice. And my heart bleeds for both of you.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think its going to be very hard to determine 100% exactly why Tucker is biting. There are likely many factors. Just because the problem started after you went to work full time it does not mean that is nessecarily the cause or main cause. If I eat some applesauce every day at bfast, suddenly stop, and develop the flu it has nothing to do with my diet. This is a classic falacy of "correlation is not causation" So, the responses on the forum arent far fetched by any means.

In terms of the shock collar it's really hard to know what Tucker assoicates with a shock. Punishment works when it is immediate (occurs during the bad behavior). That isnt really happening here. For all we know Tucker lives his life not really knowing when he will be zapped, which sucks. He could be associating any number of people, places, smells, or I objects with it. 

So theres only a few things we really know here:

-There have been a lot of changes in his life

-He is being and has been improperly trained with his shock collar

-He has reduced mental stimulation since his training sessions have been greatly reduced. 

-He has started biting people in a very serious way that is not readily predictable by the members of the household.

This is a very sad story and I don't envy you as this must be a huge stress point for you, Tucker, and your family.

I think that sometimes we push more than we should on dogs. Think of no kill shelters and the attitude that all dogs can be saved and if you cant fix them youve failed. None of that makes sense for the welfare of dogs and people. If you euthanize him dont let these kinds of people and attitudes make you feel like a faliure or a bad person. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/21/2019 at 2:54 PM, GentleLake said:

Nothing you've said in your follow up changes my previous assessment. You created this dog with your aggressive treatment and now you -- well, actually your dog -- have to face the consequences.

I agree with this 100%

On 3/21/2019 at 2:55 PM, jonesgirl88 said:

We've never zapped either dog for something they can't control or something we haven't trained them not to do.

This is not true. You have taken the dog from a room where he was doing nothing and made him go to another room and then shocked him for, from his perspective, no reason at all. This trains the dog to be fearful that at any random time for no reason he may be shocked. You think your dog has "body memory" of what happened in that spot (ie: biting) but he does not. He has no way to associate the shock and pain of the electronic collar with the bite and only thinks he is being randomly harmed. No wonder he bites.

On 3/21/2019 at 2:55 PM, jonesgirl88 said:

Yes, zappers can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

Your hands are the wrong hands. This is very clear from what you have written.

On 3/21/2019 at 3:35 PM, urge to herd said:

You should seriously consider euthanizing this dog. He's not going to get better, only worse. At this point he might not be capable of being less reactive. If he's still living with your parents, they could have a lawsuit on their hands if he bites. The entire situation makes me really, really sad.

I am very sad as well, because I agree that you and others in your human family have ruined what was probably a perfectly good dog, and now he is probably irredeemable. This is tragic. Maybe from this you can learn something so that another dog doesn't suffer the same consequences at your hands.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...