Flossy is in ‘Last Chance Saloon’. She has bitten her male owner about six times – once so seriously he had to go to A & E, and last week she suddenly attacked the lady for the first time. She has never bitten anyone else though.
She is a very nervy dog, and in the name of love and kindness the family are feeding into this by over-stimulating her. Her stress levels are permanently high – topped up by two walks a day where she is so scared before leaving that she shakes, by excessive excited ball, tuggy and chase games – mostly initiated by herself as she will pester till she gets her own way, and by adult family members who wind her up big time.
In this heightened state, she will much of the time be ‘ready to go’. Nearly all the biting occasions are when a hand has suddenly gone down into her space. Humans don’t see it like that – they think they put their hand down to pick something up near her, or to tuck a cover in, or to wipe something from her nose – but to Flossy it is merely a hand coming quickly into her space. It may follow her having been denied something she wants, or told to do something like get off the sofa.
The very kind gentleman behaves like Flossy’s hand-maiden. While the relationship is like this she will have no respect (we are not talking about love here). A respectful dog would never growl or bare her teeth which have been regular occurrences from the start, let alone bite. The lady has escaped being bitten till now because she is stronger. The gentleman is devastated at the thought that his beloved dog will need to be put to sleep if she bites again. Unintentionally, though, he is killing her with kindness. Despite all the hand-feeding, large tub of treats, enticing, playing, petting and obeying Flossy, she is not a happy dog. She is a stressed and scared dog in need of her humans to be her ‘rock’.
Such a big change in the humans’ behaviour is needed that I hope they can manage it. The only way a dog’s behaviour will change is if that of her humans changes. She is not a bad dog. She is misunderstood, she is highly strung. Her start in life was bought from a gypsy for cash as a puppy with nothing known about her past, and she may have inherited some instability. She needs different treatment from a normal stable dog. I shall be there to help them all the way.