About 6 weeks ago, when Loki was 14 weeks, he bit me very hard (enough to draw blood and cause a permanent scar on my knuckle) when I took a bone away from him. He showed no other signs of aggression. He did not warn me vocally – no growling or baring teeth - but looking back, his body language was definitely “this is MINE!” he had his paws on the bone and when I approached, he turned his body away from me, hunched over. It was extremely upsetting, but me and my fiancé had signed him up for puppy classes the week that it happened so we decided to seek advice.

The trainer was really helpful, and since we hadn’t noticed any aggression in him other than the bones, she suggested that we play the trade game with him and teach him the drop command. She also recommended only hand feeding. He was a really quick learner, and picked it up quickly. We never let him have the bully stick completely, we always have it in our hand when we ask him to drop. Then he gets a new one. Fun things happen when hands and people are around! I thought everything was fine.

Yesterday, while I was at the gym, my fiancé calls me and tells me that Loki bit him…twice. Not hard enough to break the skin, but it was definitely a bite and not his usual mouthing (he’s about he’s teething right now). My fiancé had decided to give Loki some food in his bowl, take the bowl away when it was empty, add more, rinse and repeat. Loki bit him twice, both times when he went to take the empty bowl away. The second time was hard enough that my fiancé got scared.

When I came home, I decided to recreate the scenario, as Loki definitely views me as more of a leader than my fiancé. Sure enough, he did the exact same thing – he lunged and tried to bite me when I removed the empty bowl.  

Of note, I sometimes feed him kibble out of a bowl during lunchtime (I work a 9 to 5 job, and am usually in a rush to get back to work – this way I still have time to take him for a walk during lunch) and hand feed him breakfast and dinner – he gets about 2 cups + treats spread throughout the day. Of note, he WOLFS his food down when it is in the bowl.  

I’m completely heartbroken, cried for probably the remainder of the day. Worst Valentine’s Day ever.

We are contemplating re-homing him. We are also in the process of contacting our trainer to ask if she knows of somebody who can come to our house and figure out what we are doing wrong.

The kicker is, nobody believes us when we say that he’s food aggressive. He’s the sweetest dog EVER to everybody. But it is now we are scared as we cannot even tell if he’s being aggressive with his toys (he does some of the same posturing with his toys - paws on them, runs away with them, but he’s always loved being chased and when I do work up the nerve now to put a hand on a toy, he totally lets me and will drop it if I ask) and we are becoming afraid to even take toys away from him. I'm also annoyed that his tail is docked, we literally cannot tell if he's happy or not, even when he is happy (saying hi to people) he NEVER wags his nub.

I’m completely heartbroken, doing my best not to sob while typing all this out…  and while I know the best thing to do is get a professional, I’m really not sure if we can deal with this.

Some insight or if anybody has similar stories to share, I would really like to hear them. Thanks for reading if you made it this far. 

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Hi everybody! 

I'm happy to report that Loki is doing SO, SO, SO much better! We got the advice of a trainer and have been working with him on his aggression. He no longer gulps down his food (still will around strangers, but we're working on it), and he actually looks forward to people approaching his bowl because it means he gets a yummy treat or more kibble! :) 

We learned we were doing a LOT of things wrong which led to the food aggression - whenever he would find food on the floor, we would take it away from him, random items (edible and not) he finds on his walk? Panic and take it away. Eating grass? Fish it out of his mouth. No wonder he was food aggressive, eh? It was definitely a "duh" moment for us. We thought we were being good pup parents by preventing him from getting ill, turns out we created another problem!

So now, we don't take anything away (except for the time he tried to nom on some dark chocolate), and just ask him to drop. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't. He will ALWAYS "leave it" though if I see whatever it is that he is interested in, but sometimes I don't always catch him in time. He's a cheeky little devil!

Anyway, I wanted to share the outcome in case somebody else comes across this thread with the same issues that we did. You are not alone! Thanks to all for the helpful advice.

I am so happy that Loki is doing better and that you are happy with the progress he is making!  Good for you. 

I am very happy to hear Loki is doing better! And your most recent post is a perfect example of why online advice is helpful, but does not take the place of real-life help for more serious problems.

We had no way of knowing you had been taking other food from him, you wouldn't have thought to mention it because of course you didn't realize the two might be related, and so we would have never thought of that as part of the problem.

Glad he's doing better, and it sounds like you found a great trainer who really knew what to look for.

Loki is well named - shapeshifter (changing personality) and causing trouble for the Gods (you and your fiancee), and shaking your world up.  lol....

I commend you also for facing up to your problems and recognizing you need help. Instead of internet armchair quarterbacks, find a good trainer or behaviorist to help you all thru this. Loki need to learn how to be a dog, how to behave, and that you are the pack leaders. Not him.'

Congrats on the good luck so far.

I'm going to add my 2 cents with no claim that it's even worth 2 cents.

1.) We used to have a dog that would bite us.  We did everything we could throughout this dogs life to modify his behavior but essentially all we were actually doing is removing triggers.  We had several incidents when the dog was a pup and from 1 to 10 years old there may been 8.  Things got worse after that.

My advice to you would be IF you have another incident (and let's hope not), unless you want to be dealing with these kinds of things for the whole life of the dog (nothing wrong with that but understand it), find it a new home.  

I only make this comment so you know sometimes these things can go on for years - removing triggers are good but it may manifest itself many months or even a couple of years down the road.

2.)  You can believe whatever you want about your dogs attitude - but never ever let children or strangers around your dog when they are eating.    

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