Concerned about Sherman - pushiness(?)/bit me

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Postby HappyPuppy » January 27th, 2009, 12:59 pm

So, we've had Shermz for 3 months now. Our grassy yard side is sort of cordoned off with flimsy 3-ft fence mainly to protect the lawn from dog pee when we're not watching with a watering can. Sherman cannot stand to be excluded (either on the outside when Ruby is inside or vice versa). He will try to go thru or over this fence to get in/out. In doing so, he will also get up on his hind legs and lean on the fence trying to push it down. In the past, (while saying 'no' and 'off') we have either pushed him off by the chest or swatted his nose but it's like he's aware of what he's doing and he keeps pushing it. We stopped ALL physical corrections in that situation as he cleary dislikes being corrected (duh). He will target our hand(s) and anticipate our reaching down/or swatting (which we stopped) and try to bite at our hand. When it first did it, he didn't bite but said to DH 'I think he was going to bite at me.' He gets this look on his face and will watch your hand anticipating and coil up to get ready to jump....

Last nite - he bit me pretty hard on the underside of my arm. Same scenario again with Ruby inside the lawn fence with a ball. I had started phasing out his even seeing her in there because it's a hassle to get him off the fence and I don't l ike him breaking it. But I was the one at the gate this time and used NO physical corrections. (BTW - Ruby is 100% responsive to my verbal commands/correction and that is the basis of my experience). So, I'm standing there and he's jumping up on to the fence and sort of jumping at me so I put my knee out to block him in the chest. He kept at it and I'm standing there like WTF because I did not want to use physical corrections and he didn't back down. I think he did make one swipe at my hand and missed. He then, as I was talking to my husband, pogosticked up toward my face and I just saw the 3-Dness of his nose going back down to the ground. I could sell he was getting ready to jump again - the entire focus of getting into the gate turned into attention on me. He was watching my every move and ended up jumping up and biting me on the underside of my arm (the soft fleshy part) and made a bruise with a red and white bulls eye center not quite breaking the skin. I didn't get scared/concerned until afterward - mainly was just WTF while this was going on and trying to figure out non=-physical corrections/commands that he was totally ignoring. My husband was right there and he grabbed his collar and took him into the garage but it seemed like was going to come at me again (while DH had his collar) - he sort of lunged back in my direction on 2 legs as DH was leadign him away. < this could be my paranoia but I thought that's what I saw -maybe he was just trying to get back at the gate...

He is very different than Ruby and we are obvioulsy still getting to know him. He's pretty quiet in the house and responds well to my daily commands of going outside and coming inside and the NILF we practice. I primarily feed and play and train tho DH is also involved but less so. We NILF for most things - he sits and waits for food but they do play pinball sometimes with me to get out the door. No couch privileges unless someone is sitting there and we're not there very much, so it's been minimal. Bed privileges have only been an occasional few hours in the morning but not consistently.

I'm not really worried about Sherman as a whole but this targeting me was pretty unnerving. He has done this several times but usually backed down in the end - it's like he was intentilnally pushing AFTER being told no like he was just going to do it any way and anticipating the human response of punishment/stopping .... I have seen a change in his facial expression during these times and he clearly and obviously is watching your hands and coiling up to go for them. But last nite DH and I were sort of assessing the situation as it was happening and he jumped up for my arm when I was not even looking at him or bending over him tho my body I was halfway facing him....

We will discontinue his visual presence when playing wiht Ruby there (we've been just doing one dog pretty much anyway) - I had just played with her and then him and this happened when I let him back out but she was still in there and I reflexively threw the ball another time or two since she was asking for it - guess that was my mistake.

Seems another time, when I went to grab his collar, I saw the same 'look' and he was eyeing my hand all the way down to his collar - I remember half expecting him to nip at me then but he did not - (BUT I don't remember where were were in our yard when this happened).

I do not like that he targeted me like that and that the focus shifted from getting in to 'me' and especially that he bit me while I was not totally interacting with him. I couldn't read how/if it would have escalated if DH wasn't right there to swoop in and grab his collar - wonder if that made me look weak?

We are starting a 'drill review' class with both dogs tonite ( 5 weeks). I was going to handle Ruby and DH Sherman - would it help anything if I handled Sherman instead?

He's a cuddle bug in the house and very affectionate. This all seems related to being told No and being prevented from doing something. Not sure what the next step here is???
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Postby Jenn » January 27th, 2009, 1:09 pm

My first reaction would be to place him in a crate and not allow him to even get to that point of being so worked up behind the fence. I'd leave him in the house, in a crate, and forget the fence all together, that way he doesn't have the frustration, and the opportunity to get himself to that point. I'd always leave a leash on him at all times, instead of having to grab for a collar. I think it's excellent that ya'll are doing the class, and I think it would be better for you to be the one that handles Sherman, especially if you are the one most involved with him.
:hug3: Good luck, I'm sure you'll get some wonderful advice, but that would be my first main reactions, and I'm sorry he's being a brat.
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Postby amazincc » January 27th, 2009, 2:21 pm

:shock: Are you okay???

Something like that would definitely "rattle" me, too... damn dogs. :nono:

I agree w/Jenn - keep a drag leash on that bratty boy, because an unpredictable dog can be a dangerous dog, even if behavior like that only lasts a second or two.
And, please, when you interact w/him while DH isn't home - be safe and take precautions.

I'm glad you're taking him to classes... he sounds like he's flexing his muscle a little bit to see how far he can push you and how much you're willing to back down. Don't let The Tank roll over you... :wink:

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Postby katiek0417 » January 27th, 2009, 4:12 pm

I agree with Jenn...

Why even let him out at the same time as Ruby? It sounds to me like it's not worth the aggravation.

Next, if you recoil even one bit from him, then you've reinforced his behavior...yes, it's a gut reaction to recoil when a dog is lunging at you...but it really does reinforce that behavior...

So, I would suggest letting him drag a line around the house...and I'd start using a crate more...take away some of his freedom, and see if that doesn't change some of his behavior...

However, I think it's very good that you are taking him to classes...make sure you are 100% consistent with all you do with him...
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Postby mnp13 » January 27th, 2009, 5:38 pm

HappyPuppy wrote:I remember half expecting him to nip at me then but he did not

Be careful of this expectation. It can be a self fulfilling prophecy. If you are wary of a dog they can and will read that wariness and may start trying to bully you.

HappyPuppy wrote:We NILF for most things

With a dog that is acting like him, you can't do it for "most" things you have to do it for everything. He's being a pushy ass, he can't have anything without earning it. And I wouldn't give him anything but the most basic of things for right now.
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Postby BullyLady » January 27th, 2009, 9:28 pm

mnp13 wrote:
HappyPuppy wrote:I remember half expecting him to nip at me then but he did not

Be careful of this expectation. It can be a self fulfilling prophecy. If you are wary of a dog they can and will read that wariness and may start trying to bully you.


Just wanted to +1 this, I know it's hard but you HAVE to be in the frame of mind that you are in control and everything will be fine. If you aren't he will know it in an instant and take advantage of you.
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Postby mnp13 » January 27th, 2009, 9:50 pm

BullyLady wrote:Just wanted to +1 this, I know it's hard but you HAVE to be in the frame of mind that you are in control and everything will be fine. If you aren't he will know it in an instant and take advantage of you.


If/when you start to feel like he "might" come after you, take a deep breath, get your thoughts in order and get him secured until you are comfortable. Make sure that you don't try to out-bully him, his warning "bite" from yesterday could turn into a true correction if he thinks it's necessary to keep you in line.
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Postby HappyPuppy » January 28th, 2009, 1:27 am

Well... we might have some issues with Sherman. He chewed my arm to hamburger in class tonite and bit the instructor at least twice. She's going to call tomorrow to set up an eval appt. Every time we stopped from heeling in class, he would basically go after me. He tore my sweatshirt ON MY CHEST and shoulder and broke the skin several places on my left arm. She told me to ignore him all week, which I will do. She also said his behavior is really dominant but I can't say I have observed much of this in our daily life other than the episodes. This really sucks - it is more than mouthiness - there is some real intention and persistance there and it's pretty freaky because he continues and continues to jump up at my chest and even bit me on the back in class. He got this glazed look over his eyes and was chattering his teeth but in slower motion. I'm pretty freaked and this is all pretty sudden tho my husband said Sherman did this to him when I was out of town last week as well....

So I am really interested in an eval. He was apparently in the pound for 3 weeks and only in 'foster' care for 3 days... but this is only cropping up now after 3 months, so who knows if a month in foster care would have revealed anything like this....
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Postby amazincc » January 28th, 2009, 1:41 am

Crap... that sounds like way more than just "bratty-ness".

Has he been evaluated for neuro problems by a vet? Glazed eyes and chattering teeth... maybe he's having some type of seizures???

Please, please be careful around him. I would keep him confined as much as possible until you get him evaluated... I would even go so far as to muzzle him when he's out in public, or you are alone w/him.
I'm not a fan of muzzling but you need to protect yourself and others until you know what's what.

I'm so sorry you're dealing w/this. :hug3:
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Postby DemoDick » January 28th, 2009, 2:11 am

Teeth chattering is often a displacement behavior, and not usually an indicator of anything medically wrong. Glazed eyes can also be a reaction to stress as well, and it sure sounds like the dog is experiencing stress at training.

It sounds like he's "rummaging through the tool box" with all of these behaviors to figure out which one gets him what he wants. It would make things easier for you if you knew what that was, so you could give it to him when he behaves appropriately.

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Postby BullyLady » January 28th, 2009, 2:20 am

Sirius had behavior like this about four months after coming into our home. Including the biting and lunging at us. It was truly frightening. We had him evaluated, in the end it was a bonding problem believe it or not. Shortly after he came into our home Eric's heart-dog Sophie passed away and Eric made some kind of subconscious connection between the two events. We started taking obedience classes with Eric doing all the handling. There was an immediate improvement and now our household is stable again and Eric and Sirius are like two peas in a pod. I only tell you this to make the point that it can be things the humans in the household don't even really notice that sets dogs off, especially temperamentally unstable ones to begin with like Sirius is. Don't give up on Mr. Sherman just yet.
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Postby HappyPuppy » January 28th, 2009, 3:02 am

BullyLady wrote:Sirius had behavior like this about four months after coming into our home. Including the biting and lunging at us. It was truly frightening. We had him evaluated, in the end it was a bonding problem believe it or not. Shortly after he came into our home Eric's heart-dog Sophie passed away and Eric made some kind of subconscious connection between the two events. We started taking obedience classes with Eric doing all the handling. There was an immediate improvement and now our household is stable again and Eric and Sirius are like two peas in a pod. I only tell you this to make the point that it can be things the humans in the household don't even really notice that sets dogs off, especially temperamentally unstable ones to begin with like Sirius is. Don't give up on Mr. Sherman just yet.


Good advice. I'm very interested to see what it is that I AM doing that may be compounding things. I know you don't see a lot of things unless someone points them out. I just sent a long email of my thoughts and observations over the past few weeks to my instructor so she can have some more background before we get together for an eval in the next few days. I've taken 2 other classes with her so she's seen how I am with Ruby, who is a totally different beast than Sherman....
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Postby Malli » January 28th, 2009, 5:30 am

wow, this sucks :(

Is there anyway you can keep a leash, well fitted flat collar and perhaps a harness on him so you have something to grab if things get hairy?

Just throwin' that out there

At work particularly nasty dogs wear a lead at all times(even in their kennels, though they are supervised) so we can be sure we have some amount of control over them if things get nasty.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » January 28th, 2009, 9:54 am

I'm definitely not trying to insult your trainer, but is she skilled at dealing with aggressive/anxious dogs?

I agree that it sounds like he's stressed and acting out. Maybe you need to take several steps back and treat him like you just got him - crate him when you can't supervise him, keep a drag line on him, don't take him too many places, work on training in familiar places, etc. Maybe he's just "sensitive" and had too much thrown at him at once?

And definitely put your safety first. How's your arm?
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Postby a-bull » January 28th, 2009, 12:22 pm

Read this topic and had to drop in . . .

I like this post:

DemoDick wrote:Teeth chattering is often a displacement behavior, and not usually an indicator of anything medically wrong. Glazed eyes can also be a reaction to stress as well, and it sure sounds like the dog is experiencing stress at training.

It sounds like he's "rummaging through the tool box" with all of these behaviors to figure out which one gets him what he wants. It would make things easier for you if you knew what that was, so you could give it to him when he behaves appropriately.

Demo Dick


Three months is a short time to develop a relationship with and/or understand a new adult dog. Your first post in this thread (the fence story), seems to indicate a dog that wants to be with you and your other dog, and the result of that desire was to be pushed in the chest or swatted on the nose--teaching him that negative things result from wanting to be with you. You indicate when you don't use a physical correction, he seemed to be anticipating one; I'm sure he was--that has been part of his relationship/training with you. It is not uncommon for a dog that has been physically corrected (swatted) to anticipate and go after hands.

Seems as though now you have a bad jag going with this dog. He seems like he doesn't know what's expected of him or how to behave and is acting out as a result. You said you have stopped all physcial correction, but indicate the dog is being grabbed by the collar when he misbehaves or bad behavior is anticipated--again, not uncommon for a dog that is already going after hands to redirect when grabbed, and/or escalate as he becomes more confused and more stresssed.

The training class episode, although awful sounding, is not shocking to me after reading your posts in this thread. Sounds like Sherman has a bit of a love/hate relationship with you at this point, wanting to be with you, but anticipating potentially bad things as a result, and here you are in a close knit, training class, putting demands on him. Seems he's just a basketload of crummy behaviors now, like Demo Dick said, "rummaging through his tool box" to figure out what to do, what's expected of him, how this all works. The result seems to be a very anxious, stressed, agitated dog.

Maybe Demo Dick can elaborate on his post, as I think he hit it on the head.

Good luck with Sherman. Hope I don't seem overly critical, just trying to offer some thoughts I had after reading your post, hoping you can work things out.
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Postby BigDogBuford » January 28th, 2009, 12:40 pm

First off....How is your arm? Photos?

I'm interested to hear what the trainer thinks, please keep us posted. If he were my dog, I would work privately with a qualified trainer and go back to ground zero and start all over again. In my experience three months in the honeymoon period. If things are going to pop up later, this is when I normally start to see them.
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Postby HappyPuppy » January 28th, 2009, 1:09 pm

BigDogBuford wrote:First off....How is your arm? Photos?

I'm interested to hear what the trainer thinks, please keep us posted. If he were my dog, I would work privately with a qualified trainer and go back to ground zero and start all over again. In my experience three months in the honeymoon period. If things are going to pop up later, this is when I normally start to see them.


Well, now that I took photos, it doesn't look nearly as bad as it feels.... Dunno how well the bruising comes out. There was a perfect half circle bite mark above my elbow last nite. Will be running him daily on the bike after work - maybe he's not getting enough exercise (?) but I don't think that should warrant what he did in class last nite....


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Postby BigDogBuford » January 28th, 2009, 1:26 pm

Ouch....that one up by your arm pit looks painful! Are you soaking it?
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Postby mnp13 » January 28th, 2009, 1:55 pm

o-u-c-h

One thing to consider, though what he did is 100% unacceptable, make no mistake about it - he could have sent you to the hospital if he had wanted to.

He's being an ass, but these are all warnings, nothing more... yet. And without intervention, I'm going to guess that eventually you will end up with a serious injury.

I will also second the question about your trainer. She may be EXCELLENT in "normal" training situations, but in my opinion this has crossed the line from "normal." Unless she has dealt with an issue like this specifically I would seek out another trainer for this issue.

I have an evaluation next week and I fully expect that I'm going to get bit. I can't do much about it, if I don't see the behavior I can't work on fixing it. :| I'm hoping that I won't get bit (of course) but if the owner's decsriptions of the behaviors are accurate - and I have no reason to think they are not - then I'm gonna get nailed. In my opinion, it's part of working with dogs with real issues.
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Postby hugapitbull » January 28th, 2009, 7:32 pm

mnp13 wrote:I have an evaluation next week and I fully expect that I'm going to get bit. I can't do much about it, if I don't see the behavior I can't work on fixing it. :| I'm hoping that I won't get bit (of course) but if the owner's decsriptions of the behaviors are accurate - and I have no reason to think they are not - then I'm gonna get nailed. In my opinion, it's part of working with dogs with real issues.


Don't you know anyone you really don't like you could send to do that evaluation? It would be a lot more satisfying than getting bit yourself. :wink:
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