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Guys my 2yr dog escaped our yard and bit a neighbour today. I didnt see what happened but they said he charged from behind and bit her on the back. It was quite high at the back so he must have charged pretty fast. Im really at a loss of what to do or think. I never thought that he would bite someone without any provocation. I kept thinking what if it was in the face, what if it was a child. Guys i dont know what to do. My dog is extremely sweet to family and friends. But he can be such a different dog with people he doesnt know. I love him so much and i feel so conflicted right now. My parents want to keep in on a muzzle at all times after this incident because they say they are becoming old and forgetful when it comes to closing the gate etc. But i cant stand to see him like that. I feel so hurt and angry at the whole situation. I dont really know what im expecting to hear. I know he needs more training. I wish i know what we are doing. I feel so heart broken like my whole world is crashing down. I dont care what i have to do i just want him to be happy and also never hurt another person again. I would be so grateful for any advice.
 

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Wow, tough situation.

I guess, I would want to know if the neighbor went to the hospital and had stitches or a drain put in. This is something that could indicate whether this was a nip or a bite. As you know GSDs have gigantic teeth and if they are intent on doing injury, they will cause bruising, bleeding, and often the need for stitches or drains. This medical care should be paid by your family, and apologies are in order.

It would be good to know what was happening at the time. For instance, if the lady was walking from the car to the house, and the dog ran up and nailed her, or was the lady having her morning run and the dog chased and nipped. This is not to make the neighbor liable for the bite, but to give accurate information to the behaviorist-trainer that you employ to evaluate and or train your dog with you. The behavior can mean different things. GSDs do not generally roam around looking for someone to bite. A running person might be too much for a young dog to resist, and it if was a nip it might have been communication -- "And stay out!" or "play with me!" Could be. Or it could be a dog of lesser character who will chicken-bite. They wait until whatever it is they are fearful of turns their back and then they rush up and give a nip or a bite.

From the neighbor's viewpoint, a bite is a bite. From the owners, it is more complicated. You have to decide whether the dog made a poor choice, and improved confidence, increased training, a change in leadership style, and better management will mean that you can safely keep your dog, or whether the dog is aggressive to the point that he is a liability to children and adults and needs to be put down so that he doesn't cause a more serious injury or death of someone.

I don't think you are there yet. That kind of decision should be made by someone who is well-versed in the breed and is evaluating the dog in front of them. The dog is a young dog, just getting through the teenager-stage. It could just be a young adult who is full of himself, with sketchy leadership, and poor management.

Management -- first you got to keep others safe as well as your dog. I agree that 24 hour muzzling is not an option.

Leadership -- NILIF -- Nothing in Life is Free is one leadership style. There are others. Consistency and confidence are key here. The dog needs to trust you to protect him and look to you for how he should act.

Training -- Every dog needs training, but GSDs more so than some. They are intelligent, energetic dogs that are not necessarily an indicator of docile obedience. The bond between owner and dog is built and solidified through training. Without it, the dog has little structure, and does not know how to act in all situations.

Exercise -- A young dog who is bored and left to his own devices is trouble. This dog should not have access to the gate open or not on his own. He does not need a ton of freedom, he needs to be taken out on lead and walked, maybe run, and regularly. The gates at home should be secondary defenses. But the dog should not be left to exercise himself -- that is your job.

Socialization -- This is last because a dog should be well-managed, under a solid leadership program, trained or in-training with confidence in his handler and well exercised before we expose them to people he doesn't know, and situations that may make him uneasy. Puppies are usually much better equipped to experience a variety of things, and this should be done during the early puppy stages to take advantage of that and to set some of that learning. If that was not done doing it as an adult should be done only after great strides have been made in the rest of these.

I hope you can find a good trainer-behaviorist who is willing to evaluate your dog and work with you and him.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thank you so much for your advice. The neighbour went to a clinic to get a shot and antibiotics. Which we paid for and we deeply apologized and were really sorry. We went to all our neighbours and explained what happened and what we are going to do to prevent this from happening again. I was so thankful that it wasnt a child that plays around here. I feel sick thinking about it. I just cant believe he left our property like that. I didnt even know he was capabe of biting anyone but now i know that he is.

Could you tell me more about chicken bites? I really hate to say this but i think it may have very well been a CHICKEN bite. The neighbour was walking away from the house, about 2 houses down when this happened (see pictures). He is a bit of a fearful dog and i dont know what he was thinking going off our property like that being the fearful dog he is. We have been working with our trainer on confidence building exercises because my trainer did notice that he lacked confidence. So i think its reasonable to say that the bite may have been out of some inferiority complex.

My neighbour also told us to check if he was neutered properly and it occurred to me that he may not have been because he had crypto.

The thing is when he was a puppy i brought him absolutely everywhere to meet different people and new situations. I still remember those days when he was so friendly and played with everyone and loved being pet. But at 5 or 6 months he out of no where became a different dog. Reactive to people and other dogs. Extremely protective of me. My trainer at the time (a different one) said he was one of those dogs that likes to put on a show but wouldnt actually bite. Now i know that he would do it and m still in shock at this whole thing.

I know im a bad owner. I spoil him. I hate seeing him suffer. I was lenient because i hate to treat him like a "slave". I need to do better. I just didnt want to be "harsh" at the wrong time and make things worse for him. Make him confused as to why i was being "mean". But i dont want him to hurt another person. He is only 2 years old and i need to invest in some serious leadership if expect to keep him for the next decade.
 

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That's a scratch from toenails not a bite.If your parents are forgetful about the gate why not put in a dog kennel in the back yard to keep him safe and secure when you are not home?They are inexpensive and come in 5x6 ft.panels that are super easy to install.You will work through his issues with the help of your trainer.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Can a scratch really go that deep to the point of making someone bleed like that? How can you tell? Please let me know. They told me it was a bite.

We dont have a kennel for him because we usually watch him most of the time even if he is in the yard. But this time my dad was mowing the lawn forgot to close the gate ?. We were home at the time. I saw him through my window running loose at the front yard. I ran out the house asap and didnt get there in time ?
 

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Ohhhh, trust me. I've bled heaps from dogs scratching me with their nails. One of the dogs I walked was a huge jumper. The owners would come home everyday and get her to jump up on them, so whenever I came into the house, she would jump on me. One time her nail cut my face and there was lots of blood. I had that scratch for about two weeks. People often asked what happened. I have scars on my legs and hands from dogs scratching me. It is very possible.

If her back was to the dog when it happened, it's possible she thought it was a bite when it was really just his nails. In the end, I'm not sure it matters a huge amount. It has been recorded as a bite, and either way it was unacceptable and shouldn't have happened, which you know. I would move forward thinking it was a bite so that you can prevent a bite from happening ever again. If you go ahead thinking it was just a scratch, your guard will be down. That can't happen.
 

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That's a scratch from toenails not a bite.

I had exactly the same thought! No tooth puncture, and it's in shape of a paw, dragging down the skin.


It's still bad, and some cities count scratches as bites in a dog's record. It might make a difference for insurance. Most policies have a duty to report -- even if there's no claim -- but the question is what your duty to report is (all dog-caused injuries or only bites specifically). You'll have to read the policy and research your state law (or talk with your agent) to figure out whether this counts as a material change in the risk.



If you don't, the insurance company in some states has a right of rescission (retroactive cancellation, years later, even though you paid the insurance premium). The company argues "we wouldn't have renewed the policy had we known the true risk, and you misled us by hiding the true risk" (that you had a dog with a history of injuring a neighbor), so therefore, the policy becomes void. Any major claim could trigger the rescission, even one that doesn't involve the dog -- I've heard of companies doing this after a fire burned down the house, when they found out about a dog not allowed under the policy. It's a nasty, nasty practice in the states that allow it. So it's probably worth figuring it out and dealing with it, and not just hoping they don't find out.


If closing the gate is the issue, you can put a self-closing, self-locking mechanism that installs easily with a screwdriver and electric drill. They're often used for swimming pool gates. For more money, you could put in a double-gate system, where you walk into a box like a kennel, close the first gate, and then open the second gate.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I never want this to happen again even if its a scratch. What if it was a child. They would have gotten knocked down and hurt. What if it was on the face. Etc

I want to understand what he was thinking. Why did he would do this. They clearly didnt provoke him since they were walking away from our house facing away from him.
 

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Looks like a scratch. Mine has caused some major scratches from jumping when he was excited. Took a lot of training but he hasn't done it in some time now. (he is just over 2 yrs old) Scratches can absolutely bleed and look nasty...
 

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Not that this is your major issue, but keeping your dog's nails trimmed can prevent this much of an injury from jumping on someone. Even if they're cosmetically acceptable right now, consider trimming them back more for this dog. Look for instructions on dremeling a dog's nails. You don't need another "bite" report.
 

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I disagree. That the scraping from the incisors. It's waaay too close together to be nails, unless this was a small dog. When I get scratched by my dog the nails marks easily a centimeter apart.

This is a bite. An ineffective one. But a bite.

Sorry you are dealing with this. Can you invest in an invisible fence? That way if your parents forget to close the gate you still have some sort of containment.
 

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I disagree. That the scraping from the incisors. It's waaay too close together to be nails, unless this was a small dog. When I get scratched by my dog the nails marks easily a centimeter apart.

This is a bite. An ineffective one. But a bite.

Sorry you are dealing with this. Can you invest in an invisible fence? That way if your parents forget to close the gate you still have some sort of containment.
Agree, it's a bite. In the one pic you can see the slight scraps from the lower incisors below the more pronounced marks caused by the uppers. There are 5 distinct "abrasions" all tightly and uniformly spaced, most paw scratches will leave 4 marks spaced further apart and in some instances a 5th mark from the dew claw further away.
 

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I was going to say the same, it's a shallow bite from the incisors.

To prevent it, the dog must be contained no matter what. Then go from there. Build a new gate as Magwart suggested, or build a seperate kennel to house him when you can not be controlling him.

Provoked, eh, movement can "provoke" a dog, the provocation is in the eyes of the dog, not what humans see. Walking away could have triggered the nip, who really knows. Dogs are dogs, they don't think like we do. Because of that, it's up to us to manage their behavior. The law doesn't see it that way but when someone says "the dog bit unprovoked" well, the dog was prompted to bite by something, and thus provoked. Not saying it's justified but it is always precipitated by some trigger, however minor.

Where are you located? A member on here may be able to recommend a skilled trainer to get you started in the right direction.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks guys. Whether or not this was a scratch or bite. Do you guys have any theories as to why he would have done that? It doesnt make sense at all that he would charge someone with no provocation. Someone who had their back turned away no less. Maybe he wasnt neutered properly, because he had crypto. We are going to get his hormones checked. What else would be important to check with the vet or talk to my trainer about? Any suggestions please.
 

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Im located in Toronto Canada. Guys i am heart broken. I love him so much. Anyone know how i can deal with this emotionally? Anyone been through this before?
 

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My guess is lack of nerve. Had your neighbor turned to face your dog before the bite occurred your dog may have hit the brakes and barked from a safe distance. Poor nerve is common in gsds. They’re fearful and can overreact to non threatening stimulus, some may run and others bite.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Nigel. I think you may be right that he has weak nerves. But how do we now deal with the weak nerves.
 

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Nigel. I think you may be right that he has weak nerves. But how do we now deal with the weak nerves.
You manage. Secure fences, secure gates, communicate with neighbors, utility people, mail carriers and anyone else that may be around your property. You work on rock solid and then some obedience. You ensure that if the dog is outside all gates and fence line have been checked and you crate the dog if there is even the slightest doubt that he may have an issue.

Agility equipment seems to be a huge help in confidence building, and I like off trail hiking. Adventures in the bush fill a dogs need to be a dog and allow time for bonding without the city distractions.
I muzzle Shadow on walks and anytime she is out and about in the city. Hiking I keep her on her long line so I can reel her in if need be. If she is calm, I let her drag it but she is never allowed the freedom to make poor decisions.
 

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Management and training. Keep him secure when he cannot be supervised using crates and a kennel run. A crate can help to keep visitors to your home safe as well as give him a place for his own sense of security. My insecure dog learned to love his and often just hung out in it to relax. A kennel will help keep him secure if you're having problems with ensuring that the gates are closed. I'd still look into finding a solutions to keep the gates shut as a secondary layer of security. Find a reputable trainer and work on his obedience, get it as rock solid as it can be. There are others on this forum in your area and may have some trainer suggestions.
 

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Nigel. I think you may be right that he has weak nerves. But how do we now deal with the weak nerves.
I just wanted to quote Wolfstraum from another thread-

" All the training advice will help management, but the temperament is genetic - all you can do is manage and manipulate the dog in the environment, Good luck!"
 
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