I wonder who would ever say that a dog bite could have been a good thing! This time it may have been so.
The elderly couple have had two-year-old Millie for just a couple of weeks. They wanted company for Wirehaired Pip, age four; the two dogs get on famously.
Very rarely would a dog bite with no warning at all. Usually there will be a subtle signal at least – if you know what you are looking for. Not so with Dachshund Millie.
This is what happened.
They had her in another room with Pip until I had settled at the kitchen table.
The dogs were let out
Millie made no noise. She rushed into the kitchen. Without even stopping to look or sniff who I was, she flew up at my arm and bit me. Because the elderly couple couldn’t catch her quickly enough, she attempted another couple of quick bites to my legs.
I always wear tough clothes just in case, so my legs were protected. It’s too hot however to wear a thick top. Just a bruise and a nick on my upper arm. Entirely my own fault because I was there on account of Millie having bitten the daughter who had walked in the door. The lady had been standing, looking down at the new rescue dog.
That won’t have been a dog bite without any warning – there would have been signs if you knew what to look for.
Usually if a person is sitting and already in the room and ignoring the dog, it’s a lot easier on the dog. I took what I thought was a calculated but very low risk.
A dog bite a good thing?
In a way it’s a good thing it happened! Someone else would undoubtedly very soon have been bitten who probably wouldn’t know how to react. It could have been the grandson. Now at least we know exactly what were are dealing with.
She now sat on the lady’s lap, lead on and her harness held tightly. She reacted aggressively when I moved and would certainly have bitten me again if she could. Meanwhile the lady was trying to pacify her which I feel could be perceived by Millie as anxious rather than calming. She would be transmitting her own feelings to the dog.
I’m pretty sure Millie is being increasingly protective and territorial. Possibly this is partly genetic – maybe her mother or father had been the same. Apparently she had previously lived in the middle of a confrontational relationship that had broken down and there may have been some violence.
I took refuge on the kitchen table
That was a first! They had shut Millie out of the room for a while with something to chew and wanted to let her back in. They had removed the lead.
Not quite sure that she wouldn’t wriggle through the gap in the door before they could catch her and fly at me again, I took refuge on the table!
Becoming increasingly protective suggests fear of losing something. Unsurprising, as in her short life she’s had four living situations already. She has lived with the original couple before they split, then with the lady alone, then in rescue and now with my clients.
She’s a lot more protective of the lady than the man as a little experiment demonstrated. He took the dog and I moved about and she didn’t react at all.
It looks very likely that with each day she’s with them this guarding and protecting will intensify, unwittingly encouraged by the lady. Instead of encouraging dependence, they should consciously break some of the ties that are growing. She won’t let the lady out of her sight, for instance. Everything possible needs to be done now, before any more time goes by, to stop her increasingly feeling she must guard her new humans. The same applies for her new territory.
A muzzle and a gate
There is little they can do about the actual biting itself, apart from management. They will physically prevent anyone receiving a dog bite by muzzling her. This they will introduce gradually. They will also put a gate in the kitchen doorway. This way anyone coming into their house will be safe.
Any biting, particularly a dog bite without time to see any warning, needs to be dealt with at source. We need to deal with the state of mind that causes her to do it. She was certainly not scared of me. She had very confident body language.
They still don’t really know what they have got with Millie. Things tend to surface over a period of weeks as the new dog settles in.
The very worst scenario is that she will continue to be affectionate with the couple in her lovely new home and a great playmate for Pip. When people including family and grandchild are about she is either muzzled or behind a gate. She would be muzzled when out also.
The best scenario is that, with work on their part, she can let people into their house. That they could walk past people when out – though they may not be able to invade her space.