Basset Hounds Forum banner

1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
We just acquired a bassett that had been in "foster care" - meaning he'd been given away, new owners didn't take care of him, and he wandered off. We spoke with folks who found him and brought him home a few days ago. Twice in the last 3 days he's snapped (okay, bitten) our 13 year old son. Luckily, the bites didn't really connect with his skin, but clearly this isn't to be tolerated.

I'm really not sure what's going on here, but we'd heard that he was good with children. Hmmm... We are assuming that he's trying to figure out his place in this new "pack" and he's trying to be dominant over our son. Normally they get along great. The first time our son touched him when he was sleeping and he snapped - okay, I can understand that...first day in our house - scared. Second time was this evening. We were all in the kitchen (yes, food smells) and our son was petting his head and under his chin (which he usually loves) - making playful noises at the dog and kind of leaning over him - but not right in his face. Dog snapped, grabbed his jacket sleeve and hung on growling. We sternly told him NO - okay, maybe yelled - and put him outside for a "time out". When he came in, he seemed apologetic and was just fine with our boy petting him.

What help can you experts offer on how to correct this behavior? We really want to keep this dog, but can't have this going on!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
773 Posts
You could be seeing the behavior that lead to his abandonment. Or it could just be a reaction to his abandonment. In any case, you're right to think that this cannot be tolerated. This can't be dealt with over the internet -- you need hands-on help from a reputable trainer. Where are you located?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Whiles rescues can make for very good pets and have quite a few upsides to choosing one of them over a puppy, one of the downsides is that their abuse by previous owners or situations is typically unknown. Typically when a dogs snaps it is feeling threatened. Usually with a domination issues they give verbal cues first such as a growl or a stare as to train the lower order dog. We have had several issues with Dixie so far that sound very similar to yours. My daughter woke her the other night and startled her, to which she jumped up and stood over her and yelled at her, so Dixie continued to growl at her. She has snapped at my other daughter more than once, and her response was to stamp at her and yell, which caused Dixie to continue to growl menacingly. IN the few instances that I was on hand to witness it the problem was solved by having them get down to Dixie's level and approach her and sternly correct her. My conclusion was that her previous owners probably kicked her and/or yelled at her while hovering over her.

I do agree though, you need to get him to a behavior trainer. It is impossible to decide what his trigger may be and therefore the steps that need to be taken over the internet.

I hope it works out.

Tim
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I'm in Tacoma WA and have contacted the local rescue operation and am playing phone tag. So far, I'm optimistic that we can take care of it, but always looking for insights! Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,947 Posts
We just acquired a bassett that had been in "foster care" - meaning he'd been given away, new owners didn't take care of him, and he wandered off. We spoke with folks who found him and brought him home a few days ago. Twice in the last 3 days he's snapped (okay, bitten) our 13 year old son. Luckily, the bites didn't really connect with his skin, but clearly this isn't to be tolerated.[/b]

If the dogs intent was to bite then itwould have bitten. A snap is a snap a bite is a bite. Does not make the behavior acceptable but in reality a dog that show restraint is more likely rehabilateable than one that does not. When ontacting the rescue I would ask the ages of the children the dog was temperment tested with. The concern is generally with younger childern so it may have not of been tested with a child your sons age and agression with older children was missed in testing. Also testing is not foolproof. Just because a dog did not show signs of agression with a particular child it will not do so with another. While it is obvious you can not leave your son unsupervised with the dog, consider keeping a diary of all the incidents what you remember. What the dog was doing, where, what you son was doing, wearing etc. this can be helpful in establishing a pattern. Also it is imporant to rule out any medical cause. Pain, Endocrine Disease's,( effecting hormone) and neuralogical diseases are just some of the medical conditions that can cause or contribute to aggression in dogs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,947 Posts
We are assuming that he's trying to figure out his place in this new "pack" and he's trying to be dominant over our son. Normally they get along great. The first time our son touched him when he was sleeping and he snapped - okay, I can understand that...first day in our house - scared.[/b]
There is much debate if dogs actual form packs at all, but their is no evidence dogs view humans as members of their pack. There is no indication any animals form interspecies packs with any other animals. Pack, social heirarchy theory, has little application to aggression against humans.

<a href="http://wcco.com/petcorner/Anne.Hendrickson.Dog.2.373905.html" target="_blank">Being the Alpha
The Truth About Dominance</a>

Dominance
Dominance with Humans

What is interpreted as dominant behavior of a dog toward humans is usually the result of misunderstandings between the family and the dog. These can sometimes be profound, even tragic.

...When a dog is bullied, two undesirable things happen. First, you are acting like a pack underling who wants to move up in the pack. You’re forcing your dog to show you his stuff. Fighting with your dog is not the way! If instead you assume your authority with your dog, establish and maintain it with good training, and show yourself a reliable leader, even a dog capable of dominance will be happy to follow your lead.

The second undesirable thing that happens when bullying a dog is that the dog is taught to be a bully! Let’s say Dad or Big Brother manhandles the family dog. This is the behavior being modeled for the dog as how to deal with those who are weaker. Who in the family is weaker than the dog? The littler children are weaker. You may be teaching your dog to show dominance to your children or other humans when you manhandle your dog. This can have tragic results.[/b]
Guidelines on the Use of Punishment for Dealing with Behavior Problems in Animals from American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior
For the purpose of Position Statement and Guidelines on the Use of Punishment for Dealing with Animal Behavior Problems, we have defined punishment as the use of force, coercion, or aversives to modify behavior because this is what the general public understands punishment to be. The scientific definition of punishment is slightly different

...Punishment, or the ususe of avaversives, force, coercion, or physical corrections in order to change an animal’s behavior (For actual scientific terminology, refer to p. 2: Definitions), is commonly used by the general pet owner and by many dog trainers. Some punishments are seemingly innocuous, such as squirting a cat with water when it jumps on a counter or shouting “no” when your pet misbehaves. Other punishments, such as jerking a choke chain or pinch collar to stop a dog from pulling, throwing a dog down on its back in an alpha roll when it nips, tightening a collar around a dog’s neck and cutting off its air supply until it submits, or using an electronic collar to stop a dog from barking are more severe.

...The adverse effects of punishment and the difficulties in administering punishment effectively have been well documented,1 especially in the early 1960s when such experiments were still allowed.

The standard of care for veterinarians specializing in behavior is that punishment is not to be used as a first-line or early-use treatment for
behavior problems. Consequently, the AVSAB urges that veterinarians in general practice follow suit. Additionally punishment should only be used when animal owners are made aware of the possible adverse effects. The AVSAB recommends that owners working with trainers who use punishment as a form of behavior modification in animals choose only those trainers who, without prompting:

1) Can and do articulate the most serious adverse effects associated with punishment
2) Are capable of judging when these adverse effects are occurring over the short and/or long term
3) Can explain how they would attempt to reverse any adverse effects if or when they occur.[/b]
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
63 Posts
Sorry I can offer no advice really other than state the obvious... please be careful for both your son and your dog's sake... you don't want your son to be bitten nor do you want the dog being labelled as nasty with a possibility of being put to sleep when the reality is he might not be suited to a household with children.
It's hard with a rescue as you don't know the whole story and this dog has probably not known a loving family and is maybe reacting to past treatment...
I hope you find someone to help you with this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thanks all for your thoughts. I also managed to touch base with the local rescue group and had a very nice talk. We think "this relationship can be saved". I'll indicate our approach here just in case someone else can benefit.

1) instead of allowing our son to approach the dog, he calls the dog to him.
2) crate train the dog so he can have a safe place to go when there are multiple boys around, and for dinner time.
3) obedience training with our son as the one on the other end of the leash.

We're hopeful that these will work. Crossing my fingers!
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top