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Natt

4 month old aggressive biting

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Hi! So I bought my Collie at 8 weeks old from a sheep farm. Mum and dad and siblings were all there, very friendly! Pup has been great - loves learning new tricks (for treats) and can walk for miles over fields without lead, his recall is second to none! But over the last week he has become somewhat aggressive when myself or my children attempt to stroke his back or neck and will whip his head around to nip us. He’s had a recent visit to the vet who said there were no issues with his back area. We’ve never used any kind of aggression towards him and always stay as calm as possible when telling him ‘NO’ or ‘Leave it’, but this evening doggy was sat on my sons bed and as my son has gone to move him, puppy has made an awful grown and bit my sons face! There were two deep holes and a fair bit of blood. I am horrified! We were in shock reacting to this so gave him a ferm ‘NO’ and took him from the room into the kitchen behind the baby gate. While doing this he had also gone for my hand. I understand he must have panicked for some reason and that if it was my hand he had bitten I would see it as a problem but be less shook by it, but as it was my son I’m now worried he may do it again. Any help would be super appreciated! 

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Hi Natt

I think I would like to have a little more information.  How many children do you have and how old are they?  Other information I would ask is where does he sleep?  Where is he kept during the day?  What kind of interaction does he have with the children on a daily basis and what kind of play interaction does he have with the whole family?

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I have no direct experience with dogs and kids. I'd advise that the kids have no direct contact with the dog until you've worked with a trainer, and not a dominance based one. So until you get that trainer in, to evaluate and work with the whole family, adults only in dealing with the dog. That means feeding him, taking him out to relieve himself, playing with him.

Let us know how it goes.

Ruth & Gibbs

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You don't say how old the pup is now, but this is definitely concerning, especially because there's been a bite that broke skin.

I'd book a consultation with either a veterinary behaviorist or an Applied Animal Behavior consultant immediately. I'd be inclined to try the former, who'd also be able to look into possible neurological or genetic issues.

A few years back I'd adopted an 11 week old border collie pup that became so unpredictably aggressive by 10 months old that I returned him to the rescue. They worked with a vet. behaviorist who prescribed meds and extensive behavioral intervention. Despite this the pup's issues worsened and he ultimately became too dangerous and was euthanized. It was a gut wrenching experience but sometimes there aren't any other reasonable options. I don't know what the final diagnosis was, but it wasn't anyone's fault.

Please be careful, and get help. Soon.

Best wishes.

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I will chime in and also suggest you immediately get help from a qualified behaviorist. Make sure it is someone who uses positive training methods (which doesn't necessarily mean no correction at all) and doesn't go for dominance theory, because approaching this with dominance or harsh punishment will make it worse, guaranteed. The younger the puppy is, the better chance you have of training the dog not to behave this way, so don't lose any time in getting help. And I also agree that the children must have no contact with this dog until you have worked to change this behavior. Every time he behaves in this way toward a child reinforces to him that this is an acceptable behavior, and of course it also puts your kids at risk.

Best of luck and let us know how it is going.

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I'm afraid I would not trust that dog around children or as a family pet anymore, even if you decide to get a professional trainer.  He is likely to require a lot of management throughout his life.  

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