Kill it with fire. May 20, 2010 12:34 PM   Subscribe

I just wanted to hear some commentary on what's going on in this post here.

So I'm not going to cut/paste comments because what's there seems to be old enough that if they were to be deleted they would already be.

As ya'll probably know from my one and only MeFi post and my constant chiming in on dog related posts, I'm kind of a dog guy---but I'm also pretty realistic.

I just wanted to throw up a conversation here to address:

a) the intensely heated derail about the concept of putting down the dog

and

b) the nature of a comment that suggests putting down the dog when we know very little about the actual circumstances.

Remember, I'm the guy who had a MeTa posted about me once because I used the line "sometimes people have to die", I'm not mister fuzzy wuzzy.

On the other hand, I have a dog who is a Canine Good Citizen, Certified Therapy Assist, etc etc etc dog who will respond aggressively if you corner him with nail clippers.

Also interesting, the "put your dog down" comments got marked as best answers. Really kind of an interesting post, considering the OP never responded with more info about the circumstances of any of the bites.
posted by TomMelee to MetaFilter-Related at 12:34 PM (122 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

If it were a cat, I'd have it declawed. Can you de-tooth a dog?
posted by found missing at 12:36 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Looks like the OP has responded in thread.
posted by brundlefly at 12:39 PM on May 20, 2010


Well, good...they did. however, all the "kill it" answers are waaaaaaaaaay upthread from that response.
posted by TomMelee at 12:42 PM on May 20, 2010


while i don't agree with putting the dog down without trying behavioral classes first - the update said their dog has bit "my wife, daughter, and two other people" - so now, 3 other people. sometimes mefites jump to conclusions - in this case, those conclusions seem to be correct...
posted by nadawi at 12:45 PM on May 20, 2010


yep, the op has responded, is going to the vet.. i would close down that one and this as well, neither is going to go nicely...
posted by HuronBob at 12:47 PM on May 20, 2010


...and he notes that the dog bites kinda a lot, including the OP's daughter. While a euthanasia debate might have the potential to derail, it looks as though it wasn't out of line to the topic.
posted by French Fry at 12:48 PM on May 20, 2010


Dog bite paranoia like that is kind of odd. It's one thing for a dog to give you a quick sharp bite to make you take your hands away, quite another for a dog to latch on and shake his head in attack mode. Really, only the latter should in the category for possible euthanization. Biters like the OPs dog need to be given a lot more space and care, and the owners need to look long and hard at both their own behavior towards the dog, and the very idea of owning an animal that has no work function in the first place.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:48 PM on May 20, 2010 [13 favorites]


Yeah, looks like there's not much point to "commentary on what's going on in this post" as it stands.
posted by longsleeves at 12:48 PM on May 20, 2010


Yeah, I find it hard to believe that if it was about a cat biting people that people would jump in with "OMG get it declawed then put down." Let's think more carefully before suggesting something like that.
posted by ignignokt at 12:49 PM on May 20, 2010


I find it hard to believe that if it was about a cat biting people that people would jump in with "OMG get it declawed...."

Well, no. De-toothed, maybe.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 12:51 PM on May 20, 2010


nawdawi.. see, there's just too much we don't know... my husky "bites" I guess...meaning she and i roll around on the floor, i grab her with my hands, she grabs me with her teeth, tails are wagging all around.. once in a while i grab her too hard, once in a while she grabs me too hard...neither of us have posted to askme about it and I don't think she's gonna have me put down because of that tail pull last week.

We don't know what it looks like, sounds like... is this three bites in two months or over eight years? how hard, how deep, what kind of damage, what was happening, etc, etc.

My sense was that the "kill it" responses were out of line.... and just plain mean....
posted by HuronBob at 12:53 PM on May 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


doing a google search for "cat kills human" and "dog kills human" will clear up why advice would be different in a cat thread.

and if someone rushed to the vet to put their dog down because 20 people on the internet told them to...well, they don't really need to be a pet owner. i assume the OP is going to take that advice, discuss it with friends, family, the vet, a dog trainer, and anyone else who might have weight in the decision making process.
posted by nadawi at 12:54 PM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


But that would be too predictable.
posted by ignignokt at 12:55 PM on May 20, 2010


doing a google search for "cat kills human" and "dog kills human" will clear up why advice would be different in a cat thread

I don't think you really believe that a dog that snapped at someone trying to clip his nails has a chance of killing anyone.
posted by ignignokt at 12:57 PM on May 20, 2010


"On the other hand, I have a dog who is a Canine Good Citizen, Certified Therapy Assist, etc etc etc dog who will respond aggressively if you corner him with nail clippers."

heh...this made me laugh... my husky is an ill behaved idiot much of the time, but last time in for getting her nails clipped I was told they walked up to her, she laid down on her back and stuck her paws in the air.. Groomer claimed it was the easiest clip she's ever done.... (this is the pup that, at 8 lbs, took two people to clip her nails and they charged me double it was such a pain!)
posted by HuronBob at 12:58 PM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


my cats would kill me in an instant, eventually I'm sure that's how I'll die...
posted by HuronBob at 12:59 PM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't really understand what this has to do with kids in Asia.
posted by gman at 1:01 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, no, gman. It's violins.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:02 PM on May 20, 2010


ignignokt: Yeah, I find it hard to believe that if it was about a cat biting people that people would jump in with "OMG get it declawed then put down." Let's think more carefully before suggesting something like that

You can't compare a 10 lb cat to a 60 lb dog.
posted by desjardins at 1:03 PM on May 20, 2010


It's not clear how big of a dog the OP has. They didn't offer that information anywhere in the post.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:05 PM on May 20, 2010


I have 60 lbs worth of cats at home. Evil, cunning, hungry cats...
posted by HuronBob at 1:05 PM on May 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


I don't think you really believe that a dog that snapped at someone trying to clip his nails has a chance of killing anyone.

i never said i believed that. i never indicated that i believe that. i was saying that it makes sense that dog+biting (multiple people) will get a "put him down" response in a way that cat+biting won't because besides a case of rabies, cat bites don't kill humans, dog bites can. comparing the two is a fallacy. just because they're the two most common house pets doesn't mean they require the same sort of care and concerns.
posted by nadawi at 1:06 PM on May 20, 2010


My cat once caught me completely off-guard with an ambush, and I moved weird and wrenched my shoulder. He didn't have the attention span to follow-up, though, and I lived another day.
posted by ignignokt at 1:06 PM on May 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


There was an old dog AskMe thread I had the lack of foresight to respond to that was about obedience training.

When I noted that the training technique we used with our Akita was one that (unbeknownst to me) is something some dude on TV popularized but that PETA types apparently feel is unjustifiably cruel (it depends on using dog-like body language and social cues for extreme conditioning - as opposed to the brutal ass-beatings that old-school obedience trainers sometimes suggest for Akitas and other intelligent and strong-willed dogs), I got my poop stomped all over by some other user.

I find it really weird that that'd happen in an isolated AskMe posting but that other users in AskMe are totally comfortable suggesting putting a dog down for biting.

I do think that the biting indicates a pretty important behavioral issue in this AskMe thread's OP's dog, but suggesting putting the pretty obviously intelligent and otherwise social dog down for it seems like a rather extreme and phobic reaction.
posted by kalessin at 1:06 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


op has another post about his dog, picture of killer dog is here!
posted by HuronBob at 1:07 PM on May 20, 2010


nadawi, I was trying to point out that that's a rationalization for the "put it down" crowd, not a reasonable basis.
posted by ignignokt at 1:07 PM on May 20, 2010


Oh, Metafilter, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Cat declawing, dog bites man, man bites dog, conflict diamonds, obesity...
posted by fixedgear at 1:08 PM on May 20, 2010


You can't compare a 10 lb cat to a 60 lb dog.

Well, one feeds less people...
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:08 PM on May 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


My dogs are VERY well-trained (thanks husband!) and for them to bite four people would be such bizarre, deranged behavior that I would never again trust them. They would never have the opportunity to bite more than one. They can kill me; their weight combined equals mine. If they no longer respect my dominance, enough to inflict injury upon me, why would they respect some stranger? Or kid? Why would I put myself in a situation where I am 100% responsible for someone else's injury? Would you go and bite someone yourself? If you did bite someone yourself, wouldn't you expect to be removed from society so that you cannot do it again?
posted by desjardins at 1:09 PM on May 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


> op has another post about his dog, picture of killer dog is here!

Holy shit! Did you see what that monster did to a bear! Take it out back and put it down Old Yeller style!
posted by Burhanistan at 1:10 PM on May 20, 2010


Here's the part that should put this to rest "his bites seem to be unprovoked (to me). For example, my wife got up out of her living room chair with him at her feet, and he attacked her shoes (that's happened many times). Once I was brushing the carpet with one hand to find a small screw; he evidently didn't like it and gave me a good bite. Two instances that were understandable: I reached out to pet him during a thunderstorm when he was clearly jumpy; and a nurse's aid snuck up behind himself and tried to grab the rawhide bone he was chewing
on."


most all of these are understandable responses from a dog...not a sign of aggression... as was mentioned in the post, dogs bite, for a lot of reasons, usually killing it with fire isn't necessary..

I suspect that if this comment had been posted up front, the response might have been different.
posted by HuronBob at 1:10 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


desjardins: You can't compare a 10 lb cat to a 60 lb dog.

The leap between those two is similar to the one between a misbehaved dog that snaps at people when scared and an unsocialized pit bull that will maim or kill someone.
posted by ignignokt at 1:13 PM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


So the owner admits that this dog has bit at least five humans and does so unprovoked. At this point it would be simply criminal to ignore this behavior. This is not one of those "oh just brush it off, dogs will be dogs, give him some space" situations. This is a ticking time bomb that could bankrupt their family. The OP has said he's going to try talking to a behavior specialist, but clearly he needed the wake-up call/sanity check which is why the euthanasia answers were marked best.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:15 PM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


she grabs me with her teeth, tails are wagging all around...

You have a tail!?! Neat!
posted by Evangeline at 1:16 PM on May 20, 2010


Oh who are we kidding, this tag should be rife with posts.
posted by cashman at 1:18 PM on May 20, 2010


The leap between those two is similar to the one between a misbehaved dog that snaps at people when scared and an unsocialized pit bull that will maim or kill someone.

no it's really not. one "misbehaved", but by all accounts sweet and loving, german shepherd jumped up and bit my brother in the face when he was 3 or 4 (and yes he was being supervised, and no he wasn't yanking its tail, and no there was no escalation) - he had a hundred or so stitches, and got his face put back together by a plastic surgeon. my other brother a few years later got his thumb nail bit off by a cocker spaniel we were babysitting. this dog was the type to snip occasionally, but wasn't violent, wasn't mean.

do i think they needed to be put down? i don't know. but it doesn't take an unsocialized dog (or even a huge, "bad breed" dog) to maim someone.
posted by nadawi at 1:20 PM on May 20, 2010


"You have a tail!?! Neat!"

bought it on the interweb... some site... furry.something.com... I'll get you the link..
posted by HuronBob at 1:21 PM on May 20, 2010


cat bites don't kill humans, dog bites can.

cat bites are a lot more likely to cause infections - I dunno anything about mortality, but I'm pretty sure cat bites cause more ER visits.

I think it's just a visceral reaction, to be more freaked out over dog bites...
posted by mdn at 1:22 PM on May 20, 2010


the nature of a comment that suggests putting down the dog when we know very little about the actual circumstances

I dunno, those comments struck me as pretty similar to people who respond to a question about a controlling boyfriend with dire predictions of physical abuse. It's over-the-top given limited information, sure, but the impulse to do so is often because you're worried that someone is ignoring huge red danger flags, and you hope to kind of rhetorically shake them so they realize that what they think of as a small problem ("well, my boyfriend made me stop seeing all my friends and sometimes when he's mad he throws things at the wall near me and he's super jealous all the time") is potentially quite serious. Sure, there might be totally reasonable explanations for why this dog has bitten its owner hard enough to draw blood on multiple occasions; it might be reasonable to say that biting a groomer is not worrisome because it's a stressful situation for the dog... but on the other hand, it's also somewhat likely that the dog has become human-aggressive to a dangerous degree and the owner is in denial or just has justified away every incident without noticing the larger pattern. In fact, the later comment that the dog has also bitten the wife, daughter, and two other people makes it seem like the latter is probably the case.

I go back and forth about whether I think those sorts of answers, the ones predicting really bad outcomes based on limited information, are helpful or not. I think they can be, but they can also make someone defensive and even less likely to listen to reason. It's hard to tell beforehand how someone will take it.

Anyway. Not sure what that adds to this, other than to say I don't think this sort of answering is limited to people who are cavalier about putting down dogs.
posted by iminurmefi at 1:22 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The OP has said he's going to try talking to a behavior specialist, but clearly he needed the wake-up call/sanity check which is why the euthanasia answers were marked best.

Yeha I feel that he euthanasia suggestions are sort of what you're going to get from some of the peanut gallery when you say your dog bit someone. The OP seemed to find that advice helpful and if you have strong feelings about it, you should probably talk to them about it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:24 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


people who are cavalier about putting down dogs.

Erm, no, I would probably go bankrupt before putting down any of my animals for a medical issue (assuming it wouldn't just prolong or cause more suffering). I am definitively not cavalier about this.
posted by desjardins at 1:26 PM on May 20, 2010


Right, desjardins, I was trying to say that I think people who were suggesting that *were not* doing so just because they thought animal lives had no value. It's more of a rhetorical strategy to highlight worst-case scenarios so that the OP sees the huge red waving flags.

Apologies if that didn't come across right.
posted by iminurmefi at 1:29 PM on May 20, 2010


'm not a dog owner (and really don't like the idea of keeping them indoors without a good reason like a service animal, and certainly hate the idea of designer breeds and miniature dogs), but reading these threads it seems that dog owners have some kind of idea that a "good" dog is one whose will has been completely subjugated and its very natural tendency to use its jaws as a means of warning/self-defense should be absolutely repressed. If not, then (pay someone else to) KILL IT. This is odd, and if I may armchair psychoanalyze, springs from a wish to control and dominate something mercilessly, even if it has an element of love to it. Dogs are dogs, not people. They can still have fertile offspring with wolves, and should society collapse many dogs would probably survive in feral packs and the differentiation of the breeds would disappear in short order. I'm not really going anywhere with this rant, but just wanted to explore the area that the EUTHANIZE IT, DOGS SHOULD BE SUBMISSIVE crowd lives in.

Contrast to cat owners who often find the wild aspects of their cats endearing and you have an general idea of the difference between so-called Dog People and Cat People.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:41 PM on May 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


what
posted by found missing at 1:46 PM on May 20, 2010


My comments pertaining to euthanizing a human aggressive dog comes from my experience growing up with a kennel of German Shepherd Dogs, training guide dogs for people who are deaf or physically disabled, being a veterinary technician (and in due time, a veterinarian) and my participation the 'pit bull' and all-breed rescue communities.

A human aggressive 'pit bull' (American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or American Bully) is NO JOKE. Not only can they do some serious damage, but if they are involved in an incident in which a person is bitten, it is bad for all of the dogs (the above mentioned as well as Cane Corsos, Mastiffs, Dogo Argentinos, Rottweilers, Bulldogs, American Bulldogs, Boxers, Bandogs and others) that fall under the blanket description of 'pit bull.'

What responsible owners in the 'pit bull' community do with dog aggressive dogs is humanely euthanize them.


Why? Because they are dangerous and there is no sure-fire way to rehabilitate them. Any time a 'pit bull' bites a person, it brings these breeds closer and closer to being banned altogether.

Of course any breed of dog can become human aggressive, but people in the 'pit bull' community are very serious about being responsible stewards of these animals. More dog owners should be so serious. Any doggy individual of any breed has the capacity to maim or kill a person.

There was recently an incident where an unattended dachshund ate a baby's genitals. The woman who received the first face transplant required one because of the damage done by her Labrador retriever. The guide dog that bit me was a purebred Golden Retriever. These are not breeds that people associate with dog bites, but certainly every size and breed of dog is capable of inflicting ruinous damage upon people.

As a consequence, owning a dog is Kind Of A Big Deal. It requires a great deal of responsibility, to both your dog and to your fellow human beings.

If you have a dog that is a chronic biter, it is your responsibility to either seek professional help for the dog or to put it to sleep. Most people are incapable of the kind of behavioral changes required to rehabilitate a dog. That includes many of you in the AskMe and MetaTalk thread who are having the vapors over the apparently inconceivable idea that your fellow human beings have the right to be dog-bite-free.

Yes, that right supercedes any dogs' right to life. If you don't think so, consider if one of your own loved ones were to be bitten in the face, or have their hand maimed, or be mentally scarred by a dog attack. Yes, that means a dog of any breed or size. They're animals; not little people in fur suits. Many people shouldn't have dogs; while you require a license to own a car or a gun or get married, there's no such qualification for owning a dog.

A dog that has bitten more than 4 different people (and according to the OP's replies, has bitten people apropos of NOTHING) probably has significant issues relating to people that I would bet you cash money the OP is not able to deal with. The dog is 8 years old and it has been doing this its whole life. Just as I would advise putting a dog that is physically suffering to sleep, I would advise that a responsible, compassionate owner put a mentally suffering dog to sleep as well.

posted by Seppaku at 1:48 PM on May 20, 2010 [29 favorites]


what

Chicken butt, mofo. It's perfectly sensible.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:51 PM on May 20, 2010


Jessamyn says this might belong here. Oh well, aporia is good for the soul.
posted by mondaygreens at 1:53 PM on May 20, 2010


Burhanistan, with all due respect, you have a fundamental misunderstanding of how dogs relate to each other in packs. Most dogs in the pack ARE submissive to the alpha dog. If they challenge the alpha dog, they'll either be forced into submission, kicked out of the pack or become the new alpha. When dogs know their place in the pack, they are content.

Human owners are the alpha dog in the human-dog pack. If the dog can dominate the human by biting or otherwise misbehaving, everyone loses. Dogs MUST be made to be submissive to humans because they do not have the moral sense of "hm, I should not bite this person because it is wrong." Dominance IS biting.

You can argue whether or not dogs should be pets at all, but the fact is that they are and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future, and during that time we should ensure everyone's safety.

(Cats don't operate in packs and thus don't give a shit about your so-called dominance.)
posted by desjardins at 1:53 PM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


tl;dr I am an animal and you guys sometimes say mean things about animals that i think are mean. Why are you so mean? Love, an animal.

Answer: I'm a very busy human man, you know. I have a mobile telephone and I carry typewritten papers in a sack. I have a special hat that I wear. I am very busy and also I am very important.

As a card-carrying human, I feel it is my right to kill things that get in my way. Sometimes these things are animals. Sometimes they are humans. And sometimes they are Belgians. And in every case I kill them and get on with my day with nary a second thought. The ethics of this are well-established and are likely beyond the scope of this argument.

If the humans or the Belgian animals have a problem with this, well, they can have BelgianFilter and talk about the terrible things we humans do, like tickling babies, visiting the moon, and war. But I don't expect that sort of anti-humanist website to be very popular given that animals and Belgians emit a foul odor when faced with reasoned debate.

Yours murderously,

Pastabagel

P.S. Not Belgist.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:54 PM on May 20, 2010 [14 favorites]


FYI both our dogs were strays rescued from the street, not bought in pet stores or from puppy mills (both of which are reprehensible to me). (Further FYI, both our cats are also rescues from the humane society.)
posted by desjardins at 1:56 PM on May 20, 2010


Chicken butt, mofo. It's perfectly sensible.

It's ignorant, but you knew that, right?
posted by found missing at 1:56 PM on May 20, 2010


> Human owners are the alpha dog in the human-dog pack.

The owner-dog relationship is a bit more subtle and broader than that. Besides, pack dogs bite each other all the time.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:06 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


So your point is that they should be allowed to bite all the time? Or that people shouldn't keep domesticated predators in their home?

I honestly don't know.
posted by French Fry at 2:13 PM on May 20, 2010


The owner-dog relationship is a bit more subtle and broader than that.

Do tell
posted by found missing at 2:15 PM on May 20, 2010


> I honestly don't know.

I'm over-caffeinated and probably shouldn't have bothered in the first place, but I was just trying explore the logic of the "euthanize it" crowd, based on my experience with dog owners who seem to demand absolute submission from their dogs because they could.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:16 PM on May 20, 2010


but I was just trying explore the logic of the "euthanize it" crowd, based on my experience with dog owners who seem to demand absolute submission from their dogs because they could.

Calling them the "EUTHANIZE IT, DOGS SHOULD BE SUBMISSIVE crowd" wasn't really a great start in that regard.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:18 PM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Man, where's biscotti when you need her?

Seppaku, as a member of a family that once euthanized a dog for biting aggression*, I appreciate the sentiments of what you're saying, but I don't think you're approaching it with the sensitivity the subject deserves. Which is to say, you're being really loud and, frankly, aggressive about it. The OP has already stated that he's going to seek professional help about the issue. It's not unreasonable for him to want to explore every alternative avenue first--talking to a behaviorial specialist first is completely reasonable; he or she will let OP know what to expect, what the possible outcomes might be, and if it's hopeless.

*Our situation was, at least on paper, much, much worse than what OP is facing. Our dog, Lucy, bit several people on the face (including me--I still have the scars) within a few months of adopting her, some of them requiring stitches. The shelter we adopted her from was no-kill, and refused to take her back. We worked with a specialist for about six months, during which time there weren't any biting incidents, but we realized that we just couldn't handle the situation, and didn't feel safe having her around anyone else. She was one of the sweetest dogs I've ever met otherwise--but it seemed to me there was something very clearly mentally wrong with her, and likely abuse in her past. It was an incredibly difficult situation, and heartbreaking. I'm sure that any responsible pet owner who's been through a similar experience is probably equally nauseated by all of this.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:28 PM on May 20, 2010 [12 favorites]


Seppaku I agree, many people shouldn't have dogs. I think you might be one of them. What's your dog body count so far?
posted by Carbolic at 2:29 PM on May 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


reading these threads it seems that dog owners have some kind of idea that a "good" dog is one whose will has been completely subjugated and its very natural tendency to use its jaws as a means of warning/self-defense should be absolutely repressed

The thing you don't seem to get is that to a dog that has not been conditioned otherwise, there's very little distinction between using its jaws as a means of warning when playing around with its owner and using its jaws as a means of warning when a toddler comes running up to it and startles it and starts slapping it in the face. Except in the second case the owner is now liable for serious monetary damages by very pissed off parents whose precious little bundle now has only one working hand.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:32 PM on May 20, 2010


What's your dog body count so far?

FFS, stop this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:42 PM on May 20, 2010 [11 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi, a shelter allowed you to adopt a dog with severe behavioral issues they should have caught before releasing the dog from their care and then wouldn't take her back? Wow, that's a shelter that needs to stop operating.

I understand that no-kill shelters will refuse dogs that are known to be unadoptable due to aggression issues since they cannot rehome because their only choice is to care for the dog for the rest of its life or to kill him.

But it's pretty rich that they will pass the buck to a family that is likely ill-equipped to do the former.

I have been in your position, PhoBWanKenobi, and I agree that both sides of this discussion would do well to curb the absolutism of their arguments.
posted by rocketpup at 2:45 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Apologies.
posted by Carbolic at 2:50 PM on May 20, 2010


A dog once tried to playfully bite my wife in the face.... she unremittingly punched him in the head.
posted by edgeways at 2:52 PM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Rhomboid: The thing you don't seem to get is that to a dog that has not been conditioned otherwise, there's very little distinction between using its jaws as a means of warning when playing around with its owner and using its jaws as a means of warning when a toddler comes running up to it and startles it and starts slapping it in the face.
Generally speaking one of the first things you should be teaching your puppy is bite inhibition. He shouldn't be using his jaws for warning because once he realizes it works, it can quickly supplant the other tools in his kit like retreating, body language, barking and growling for all sorts of situations in which he is uncomfortable or is not getting what he wants.
posted by rocketpup at 2:53 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Burhanistan, I think you're wrong about who understands dogs better. I think people who don't have experience with dogs -- like yourself, according to what you've said -- or who maybe have only owned dogs as oodgy-woodgy furballs, are the ones who go to great lengths to excuse human aggression in dogs. People who know dogs know that their jaws are not hard-wired to their startle reflex, and a good (i.e., well-trained) dog doesn't bite its owner and three others for reasons like "I moved my hand along the carpet."

I don't know any long-time, multi-generation owner of truly useful dogs who would keep a biter. They don't tend to have biters, actually, because their dogs are well-trained and happy because of it.

People who just want to bury their faces in fur and loooooooove their dogs should get something under 15 lbs.
posted by palliser at 2:56 PM on May 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ugh, I just was in the middle of one of these conversations last night. A woman I know related about when she was pregnant and her beloved chow began, out of nowhere, biting. Not nips, either. She tried a few behavioral remedies but, as the birthdate drew nearer, put the dog down, as she was unwilling to risk it. I could not fault her.
posted by adipocere at 3:11 PM on May 20, 2010


People who just want to bury their faces in fur and loooooooove their dogs should get something under 15 lbs.

An Australian Terrier is typically under 15 pounds and can tree a half-ton brown bear. Just saying, you don't necessarily want to fuck with little dogs either.

Terriers. Represent.
posted by The Bellman at 3:14 PM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Seppaku I agree, many people shouldn't have dogs. I think you might be one of them. What's your dog body count so far?

I've owned, rescued, trained, consulted upon and saved the lives of more than you can count.

I'll also bet that I've thought longer and harder about this subject than you have.

What's your claim to fame? You have two hands and a computer?
posted by Seppaku at 3:24 PM on May 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeha I feel that he euthanasia suggestions are sort of what you're going to get from some of the peanut gallery when you say your dog bit someone.

Calling members who respond to AskMe with sincere and concerned advice "the peanut gallery" strikes me as a little disrespectful and dismissive. It makes them sound like ignorant yahoos, there for the cheap entertainment. I realize it's just a throwaway term, but still.
posted by longsleeves at 3:28 PM on May 20, 2010


For reference, I'd take a dog over a person any day: at least dogs are honest and if they're pissed with you they bite you in the face. With people they post passive-aggressive Metatalk comments. Frankly I'd rather be bitten in the face than listen to somebody bleat.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:32 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


How to tell someone who's never been bitten in the face.
posted by found missing at 3:41 PM on May 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


A dog that bites a groomer is not acting outside the normal spectrum of behavior. The dog is in a strange place that smells like a thousand other dogs, tethered to a table and confronted by a stranger who has things that go snip and BZZZZZ.
However, a dog that bites its owner(s) hard, in their home while not under threat is a seriously confused animal that cannot be trusted. People anthropomorphize too much and expect the dog to understand as though it were human when in those situations it is really up to the human to understand the situation as though they were a dog. You really need be bit by your own dog only once if you respond correctly and any reasonably intelligent dog that has been well raised and socialized shouldn't be biting anyone in its owners house unless the owner is showing signs of stress.
That said I would just keep a bite muzzle on the dog when he isn't eating rather than kill him, after an 8 year relationship that would be extremely rude.
posted by vapidave at 3:45 PM on May 20, 2010


When I was a kid, there was a widely agreed-upon expectation where I lived that if you got your ass bit by a dog (especially if that dog was on its own property, but also if it was running loose in the neighborhood as most dogs then were allowed to do), it was your own damn fault, and tough titties to you.

These days, at least where I live now, there's an equally strong expectation of not being bitten by someone else's dog, except maybe if you are breaking into their house at night, and even then it can be a bit controversial.

Honestly, I prefer the modern state of affairs. I get growled at and threatened by dogs a lot less often now, because owners are much more careful about training and restraining their dogs; problem dogs are more likely to be retrained or euthanised.

So yeah, I think dogs that repeatedly bite outside of very specific circumstances (eg defending their owners from attack) should be either retrained or euthanised. I don't think that it is as simple as "bite once, get put to sleep" -- I was once bitten by a dog and it was inarguably my own fault. I deserved that bite, and I was glad the dog wasn't punished for it.

I am really happy that the OP is getting professional behavioral help, and is aware that a dog that repeatedly bites with no provocation needs to either be reformed, or to go on to doggy heaven. It's one of the toughest responsibilities we take on as dog owners, and I think it's incumbent on all of us to take that responsibility completely seriously.
posted by Forktine at 3:46 PM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'll also bet that I've thought longer and harder about this subject than you have.

See, but this is the thing: you're not the only person with experience on this (the last time dog biting came up, I got a MeMail from several other people who had been through similar, equally emotionally painful situations), or who has thought long and hard about it. And all of your finger wagging about how "most people" are incapable of handling this sort of situation, or implying that those who disagree with you view their animals as people in fur suits or whatever just isn't being empathetic or compassionate.

No matter what OP chooses, he's going to have someone, at some point, telling him he's being irresponsible or inhumane. There's a way to discuss the ramifications of being in this sort of situation without needlessly piling on more guilt or being condescending. I'd hope that those in the veterinary field would be capable of doing so. Maybe not?

PhoBWanKenobi, a shelter allowed you to adopt a dog with severe behavioral issues they should have caught before releasing the dog from their care and then wouldn't take her back? Wow, that's a shelter that needs to stop operating.

Yeah, tell me about it. They also adopted her out to us without telling us that she was dog aggressive, which they certainly knew. It was an awful situation.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:47 PM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


op has another post about his dog, picture of killer dog is here!

Friend of a friend, by which I mean roommate, of a dear friend with whom I crashed for a couple of months had a dog what looked about like that, 'cept more purebred lab looking. She put the dog down at about 2.5 years of age on account of she was uncontrollably vicious. Why? Because the fucking douchebags that first owned this dog thought it'd be funny to feed the dog weed and LSD. That sweet, lab-looking dog was a fucking danger to herself and others. And, tragically, in the right circumstances, she was the sweetest dog ever.

That said, my dog looks like nothing so much as a bear dog and we're pretty sure (don't tell our insurance company!) that my wife's dog is not short of pit bull in her lineage. Their biggest jobs are (on a short leash) nuzzling newborns and collecting escaped five-day-old chicks. One can't tell from looks.
posted by stet at 4:30 PM on May 20, 2010


That said I would just keep a bite muzzle on the dog when he isn't eating rather than kill him, after an 8 year relationship that would be extremely rude.

Muzzling a dog increases their anxiety by a huge factor. Muzzling a dog during his non-eating hours would be extremely cruel and "rude". Much more than putting down a dog in a humane manner. Even the cage muzzles which allow them to breathe/pant -- muzzling a dog is a VERY short-term solution to a problem, if that. If you've reached a point where you cannot trust the dog because of aggression, and you cannot organize your life around having the dog separate from any potential situations, then the solution is not to permanently muzzle the dog or rehome the dog. The solution is to humanely put the dog down.

This is not a comment about the original question - it's impossible to know what to do based on the information given. Consult a qualified vet and dog behaviorist.
posted by barnone at 4:56 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


One can't tell from looks.

This, a thousand times. A friend of mine, back in the day, had two dogs. One was huge and scary, and one was tiny and seemed harmless. Another friend got down into the larger dog's face (because he was an idiot, mind you) and barked at the big dog, who promptly licked him. The friend did the same to the smaller dog, and got bitten across the nose, needing stitches. I've also locked a stray AmStad pup in a stairwell until animal control came, after he mauled a neighbor's poodle, which was easy to accomplish -- he was about as friendly as you could imagine. You know, if you hadn't seen the poodle he nearly killed.
posted by davejay at 5:04 PM on May 20, 2010


barked at the big dog, who promptly licked him.

There's a beautiful St. Bernard in my area, who will take neither tooth nor tongue to me. He's a trained therapy dog, and unfailingly gentle. However, I'm told that he does chase small animals (squirrels, rabbits) down, hound them out of their dens, catch them... and lick them.

He's like a walking Disney character.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:15 PM on May 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


"the peanut gallery"

Sorry, I don't intend it as dismissive but I can see how it would come off that way. My folks used to call me and my sister that when we were on long car rides and I think of it more as a term of mild endearment but that's clearly not translating.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:52 PM on May 20, 2010


A good portion of the reason I wanted to put this here has been *somewhat* resolved by the OP with his follow ups---but it still doesn't address the vehemence of the answers encouraging euthanasia prior (or honestly even after) the follow up.

My experience with the canines:
I was working with a Shutzhuend training class at age 7-12. No, I was wasn't watching and drooling, I was working a dog and learning from a Shutzhuend III master trainer. At 7 I was bitten on the arm badly enough to require stitches---an event completely my own fault that I'm embarrassed to share today. At 10 I was, quite literally, "rescued" by my dog when I fell through the ice of our stream. (a dog that, later, was gut-shot by my piece of garbage neighbors and still managed to walk the mile+ home to die on my front yard.)

By 18 I was working 40+ hours a month with a search and rescue team (dogs/horses/scuba), by 21 I had already lost my first tracking dog to epileptic heart failure and had started on two more. During that time we worked with FBI dogs, State Police dogs, and the worst and scariest of the entire bunch...Prison dogs....dogs so nasty that their handlers carry bear spray in case they lose their shit when they're not supposed to.

I worked with dog aggressive dogs, people aggressive dogs, and my own border collie mutt who was stuck on her 10 acre airscent because she'd freeze and freakout if you had a hat on when she found you.

More recently, I've worked with Therapy Dogs, Therapy Assist dogs, CGC's, flyball and agility mutts, not to mention vision-assist and mobility-assist dogs.

I'm not a vet, but I've dropped a laryngeal traech on a dog with exercise bloat. I'm not a vet but I've dealt with canine snakebites and dog-on-dog attacks. I have interceded in German Shepherd versus Belgian Malinois death brawls.

So yea, I think I've got a fair share of "dog" experience too. I've also got a decent volume of "people" experience too---but I'm not good at tempering my displeasure when someone tries to spout their supposed knowledge in defense of a position whether popular or otherwise.

This thread is right when it asserts that not everyone should own a dog. It's absolutely right that a dog should not put its teeth on people. It is absolutely correct that any dog on any given day can flip its shit and bite someone.

My original and persistent problem with the "kill it" advice (and seriously, I don't care if you're saying "euthanize" or "shoot it behind the ear with a 12 gauge", it's still the same thing for a non-sick dog) is that it does not take into account that when you bring a dog into your home---you enter into a covenant with that animal. You ask it to protect you, entertain you, and enrich your life. In return, it expects food and guidance.

"You're not what I want you to be and I can't be bothered to train you so you have to die" is a pretty goddamn shitty way to look at your committments, especially to a creature that is, by and large, helpless and, thanks to you, extremely unlikely to ever be adopted by someone else because of its age and lack of direction.

I've worked with dogs who bite at exactly similar provocation. The mere fact that the dogs immediate response is to crate itself up means that the cycle of negative reinforcement is so complete that the dog has a behavioral expectation.

It is true that not everyone should own a dog. Number one on that list are people who would advocate execution over training, and people who would rather execute than be bothered to put in some time. Any vet who would euthanize in this scenario is not a vet I would take my animal to.

tl:dr version: I'm a dog person too, and not just the fluffy wuffy wubkins type. Advocating execution for this dog, today, even given the follow up is irresponsible.
posted by TomMelee at 5:54 PM on May 20, 2010 [28 favorites]


No matter what OP chooses, he's going to have someone, at some point, telling him he's being irresponsible or inhumane. There's a way to discuss the ramifications of being in this sort of situation without needlessly piling on more guilt or being condescending. I'd hope that those in the veterinary field would be capable of doing so. Maybe not?

I am in the veterinary field and our job is to provide pet owners with the information they need to make informed decisions on their pet's well-being. So not only are we capable but it is our responsibility. However, there are bad apples within my profession who believe ALL pet owners are bad. I'm not naming names.
posted by little miss s at 6:29 PM on May 20, 2010


The unprovoked bite when the OP was scratching the carpet looking for the small screw suggests seizure disorder to me, the more so since the dog is white. Attacking the wife's shoes when she gets up with the dog at her feet also could involve scuffing across the carpet, I imagine. Some kind of trigger might be going on there.

I agree with you Burhanistan (if I understand you properly), the kind of perfect behavior people think they can demand of their dogs these days is consistent only with utter, debased enslavement.

I want a dog who is a person, relating to me as a person, not an automaton whose personality has been eradicated by overbreeding and the worst kind of brainwashing.
posted by jamjam at 7:18 PM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I want a dog who is a person, relating to me as a person

hamburger?
posted by nadawi at 7:29 PM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


"You're not what I want you to be and I can't be bothered to train you so you have to die" is a pretty goddamn shitty way to look at your committments,

"You're not what I want you to be"? That's a pretty disingenuous translation of "you've bitten your owner repeatedly."

Anyway, the distinction here is that some of us think a far shittier attitude is "I can't be bothered to train you so you'll just have to keep biting household members and unsuspecting others." A good owner wouldn't have permitted the dog to develop this nasty, dangerous, and now well-established habit in the first place. If he can't manage to break the habit now, whether because of incompetence or lack of commitment or because the dog is too deeply set in its ways, humane euthanasia is not the worst possible outcome. Escalation to a disfiguring bite would be.
posted by palliser at 7:29 PM on May 20, 2010


Some of the euthanasia comments remind me of what some of my older relatives' feelings were about dogs - for example, my grandfather. If a dog bit someone, there was no question about what he'd do. "Bad dog, shoot." (He was deaf, so his sentences were kind of short.)

I lean toward the other side, and I'm speaking as someone who was bitten in the face by a black lab at age 5 - like TomMelee said, you have a covenant with your dog that includes getting it the help it needs. Preferably before it's bitten over 5 people.

On the other hand, I can't stand pet owners who don't take their dog's aggression problems seriously. My brother-in-law owns a pit bull mix, and they always swore up and down that he's a good dog, he's just barking, no worries. Of the two times I went to their house, both times, I stepped inside the door, took one look at that dog and the stance he was in (front feet planted, tail stiff, hackles slightly raised, short loud barks) and I just shut the door and left. I think I've owned enough dogs that I know when I'm in danger of getting bitten, no matter how much dominance I try to project. My SO didn't believe that the dog was a threat, and always pooh-poohed my concerns. The last time we went over, he decided to go see the dog, and crouched down on his haunches to "get on the dog's level." He slowly held out a hand to let the dog sniff it, and you guessed it, he got a bad bite to his hand that drew blood.

The owners were barely apologetic, and apparently felt like it was "just a nip." Well, no shit it's a nip, and not only do you have no control over your dog, but also your smaller dog (some kind of chihuahua) is doing nothing but adding to the aggression and doggy territorial behavior. Those are the kind of people that need punished, and I feel sorry for their dogs.
posted by HopperFan at 8:49 PM on May 20, 2010


Do I understand this correctly that for every dog, no matter how well trained, there is a small possibility that he'll flip outwithout provocation and do some life threatening injury?

If that's so, how come people are still allowed to hold dogs??
posted by Omnomnom at 5:07 AM on May 21, 2010


Do I understand this correctly that for every dog, no matter how well trained, there is a small possibility that he'll flip outwithout provocation and do some life threatening injury?

I'm pretty sure this is equally as true of most people.*

*Does not think animals are people in little fur suits.
posted by edbles at 5:42 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


My original and persistent problem with the "kill it" advice (and seriously, I don't care if you're saying "euthanize" or "shoot it behind the ear with a 12 gauge", it's still the same thing for a non-sick dog) is that it does not take into account that when you bring a dog into your home---you enter into a covenant with that animal. You ask it to protect you, entertain you, and enrich your life. In return, it expects food and guidance.

I think this is a really interesting point and may get at the root of the “people in little fur suits” misconception. An animal is a social individual that you can form a friendship with or if that word makes you uncomfortable a symbiotic social relationship. But it’s a different species with, for the lack of a better word, a different culture. A lot of what having a pet is, is learning how to communicate with them, which means you need to meet them halfway. It also means they need to meet you halfway and learn that biting is NOT OKAY. You as an owner have to learn that their body language and meows or barks are the only way they have of communicating with you and open your mind up to read that channel. But I think acknowledging that you can have a social relationship with an animal is not the same as thinking they are people. They are individuals certainly, but you need to honor the species difference in order to honor the social contract you have entered into.
posted by edbles at 5:47 AM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure this is equally as true of most people.*

But...other people are not my responsibility. My pets are.
(I know next to nothing about dogs, I'm a cat person, I just think the things people are saying here sound alarming in an 'every dog is a potential killer' kind of way.)
posted by Omnomnom at 6:00 AM on May 21, 2010


Fair point. But I think the comment your referring to is this.

Any doggy individual of any breed has the capacity to maim or kill a person.

Which is not the same as: all dogs are ticking time bombs. My interpretation of the comment was, "You need to be in control and aware of your dog and train it well no matter what breed it is."
posted by edbles at 6:11 AM on May 21, 2010


Do I understand this correctly that for every dog, no matter how well trained, there is a small possibility that he'll flip out without provocation and do some life threatening injury?

Yes, and your laptop battery might explode or your Toyota may take off and send you a postcard from Tijuana. Your blender may shake itself apart and fling spinning death across your kitchen.

The commonality is that you don't have perfect knowledge of what's going on inside all of these systems at all times. Therefore you cannot rule out a catastrophic failure even if you understand that the chances of it are incredibly small.

A more useful example where a dog who has never shown human aggression may bite would be in the case of a house fire. Say a fireman comes to help you flee the house and your dog is with you. The dog may or may not have the presence of mind to look to you for direction. But you may be stressed and panicking. This situation could trigger a protective attack by the dog against the fireman for any but the most rigorously trained animals, and even then you can't be absolutely sure. This could happen also during a car crash or any other high stress, fast moving scenario.

For this reason it is a good idea that all dogs be muzzle trained so that you at least have a chance to slap one on before the dog gets too deeply invested in such a novel situation.

Muzzling a dog increases their anxiety by a huge factor. Muzzling a dog during his non-eating hours would be extremely cruel and "rude". Much more than putting down a dog in a humane manner. Even the cage muzzles which allow them to breathe/pant -- muzzling a dog is a VERY short-term solution to a problem, if that. If you've reached a point where you cannot trust the dog because of aggression, and you cannot organize your life around having the dog separate from any potential situations, then the solution is not to permanently muzzle the dog or rehome the dog. The solution is to humanely put the dog down.

I think this needs to be caveated. Muzzles require training. Muzzling a dog does not automatically stress him out. Waiting until the dog is in a stressful situation and then attempting to force the muzzle on him will start to associate the muzzle with stress. However, applying and removing the muzzle repeatedly while giving praise (and treats if that is your wont) while nothing else is going on and doing your best to ensure that you apply the muzzle before the dog enters a stressful situation... at home or in the parking lot before he enters the groomers or the vets office will not automatically increase his anxiety.

That being said 24/7 muzzling for the rest of the dog's life is not necessarily preferable to euthanasia. I've never seen a dog that was treated that way, but I imagine it would often be associated with laziness on the part of the owner regarding training and the sum total would be a very unhappy dog.
posted by rocketpup at 6:36 AM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do I understand this correctly that for every dog, no matter how well trained, there is a small possibility that he'll flip outwithout provocation and do some life threatening injury?

No, I think it would be more fair to say something like: "Dogs that bite unprovoked will pretty much always have previously exhibited patterns of behavior and have been socialized by people in unhelpful ways." Dogs aren't ticking time bombs any more than people or cats or horses are, but just like people and cats and horses, dogs can be either born with something wrong in their head or abused/trained to become violent and nasty.

Every biter I've encountered had an owner who would say things like "oh, Killer almost never bites" or "wow, I didn't think Killer would do that again." The owner had already fucked up in a big, big way; by the time you get to the dog biting the neighborhood children a lot has already gone wrong.
posted by Forktine at 6:45 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Considering how different primates and canines are when it comes to our body language, modes of communication, expressions of emotion, etc., it's a fucking miracle that humans and dogs get along as well as they do. And about 97% of that success rate is due to the astonishing adaptability of dogs, because the average puppy understands about 4000 times more about the behavior of these alien human creatures by the time it's six months old than most people can be bothered to learn about dogs in a lifetime.

I have been a dog person since childhood and have kept multiple dogs of many breeds for my whole adult life and have actively worked and seriously tried to learn as much as I can about how to do it well, but this stuff is a constant learning experience. You can't just relate to every dog the same way, and there is lots of middle ground in between letting a dog call the shots and do whatever it wants (which is incredibly crazy and dangerous even with a chihuahua) and demanding 24/7 cringing, debased subjugation. If you live with multiple dogs and carefully observe their relationships with each other over time, you see how complex those are and how fluid their pack dynamics are rather than some rigid feudal hierarchy.

Dogs shouldn't be the ones making the rules and setting the routine, but they do need to act like dogs. My foofy shih tzu enjoys rolling around on a wonderfully stinky dead worm no less than the 93 pound shepherd-dane-collie mix, and I figure that since they tolerate me sudsing them up with disgusting (to their noses) shampoo periodically, then I can tolerate Eau de Dead Worm or having a few divots in the lawn from the post-dinner Grass Root Salad course.

You can certainly teach a pup "we don't put our teeth on people, even in play" without breaking its spirit. My big dominant male knows that when I hand him a ball, if he accidentally contacts my finger instead of the toy, he needs to immediately back off and do a couple of token submissive gestures to indicate, "Whoops, my bad." It's a lot harder to instill that behavior in an adult dog who has learned that it's OK to be mouthy with people or, as someone suggested above, may have neurological issues that short-circuit the bite inhibition. Yeah, the OP should have been alert about this preventatively rather than after several biting incidents, but hey, we learn from our mistakes, and he seems to be taking it seriously now. Everybody in that family needs to commit to working at retraining themselves and their dog and to talk through their options if the behavior persists.

There's also a middle ground between "let's put the dog down because he doesn't match the new couch" and "No kill, not ever, no matter what!" There are some dogs that are simply too fucked up through mistreatment or genetics or god knows what to live anything other than a destructive, miserable existence, and a quiet, merciful death is far from the worst thing that can happen to them. I have had many wonderful rescue dogs, but I know a few "No kill, not ever, every doggie can be saved!" rescue organizations in my region do sometimes adopt out dogs with serious issues because they don't have the resources to keep the dogs forever and refuse to euthanize any physically healthy animal. But they always have new animals coming in, and the foster homes are full, and there's this pressure to overlook or downplay any "imperfections" and ship those dogs out. The more responsible rescue groups limit the dogs they accept, do full assessments before allowing any dog to be adopted, and commit to making sure each dog gets a fully-informed owner capable of handling its special needs.

Anyhow, all dog and cat (and gerbil and iguana) people probably have a tendency to think everybody else is doing it wrong -- I know I get all Sam the Eagle when I read about people crouching down and getting up in the face making eye contact with strange, agitated dogs (why don't you just wear a sign saying "Please attack me"?). But trite as it sounds, the thing decades of living with dogs has taught me is how much I still have to learn about them and that the moment when you think you have all the answers for everyone and are so much wiser is usually exactly when your dog will teach you otherwise.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:49 AM on May 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Dogs have multiple bites, as they have multiple barks. There is a distinction between disciplinary nips, play-fighting nips, dominance-assertion nips, serious fighting bites, prey killing bites (that's the one that comes with a shake), and savaging in terror or anger. Dogs raised among others, eg in a litter of puppies, learn the distinction early. While they are still young and unable to do serious damage, they learn, by biting each other (and adult dogs) and being bitten (and nipped), how hard they can and should bite. A dog whose nipping of a family member really hurts, let alone draws blood, was probably separated too early from the mother and the litter, before having had a chance to learn much canine social behavior (and probably has other problems besides). A dog that nips you is unlikely to savage you because the bites mean and are used for different things.

How the dog bit you will help explain why the dog bit you.

If you deal with a lot of dogs, as a groomer or a vet does, you'll encounter a reasonable number of poorly-socialized ones and one in a while who actually has mental problems. It comes with the job. If they're good at the job, they can normally avoid being nipped, and the OP's groomer almost certainly blames herself more than the dog or the OP. Sometimes the dog in the presence of the owner is a worse problem than the dog would be on his own. Standing there giving off worry (even if it's worry that the dog will bite the groomer) will not help the dog trust the groomer.

From the description, the OP's dog is poorly socialized (nips too hard and too often), was probably adopted too early, and needs training. Training him themselves would be the best option. Giving the dog up to an owner able and willing to do this would be the second-best option. Killing him shouldn't even be on the radar at this point. If a dog is killed for behavioral reasons, it is an admission of gross failure on the owner's part. That may be because the owner can't address the dog's problems despite desperately wanting and honestly trying to do so; it may be because no-one can address the dog's problems. It is still a failure. Whether you, having so failed, ought to have a dog again is a question for your conscience, but I suggest that adopting a well-behaved, well-socialized, and well-trained dog would still be a reasonable idea. Failure and fault aren't the same thing.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:52 AM on May 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


"I get all Sam the Eagle"

Me too, I'm going to steal this phrase.

"...that the moment when you think you have all the answers for everyone and are so much wiser is usually exactly when your dog will teach you otherwise."

QFT.
posted by HopperFan at 8:49 AM on May 21, 2010


There's a huge grey area between viewing animals as sentient beings deserving of unconditional love and compassion and valuing animals for their utility.

Dogs have evolved to take advantage of a reproductive advantage we give them. That's domestication. They've been selected to understand us (or at least mirror our emotions) as well as an animal can and do some cool tricks. Dogs that were mean or disobedient didn't get a chance to reproduce.

Almost any aggressive dog can, with enough training, be turned into a good dog. But the utility (to us) of dogs is that they're *easy* to train. That's why we bother with them rather than with super badass animals like tigers and bears. Without any training, most of them won't bite their owners. Not so for the (totally sweet) polar bear.

Here's my question:
If a dog lacks the genes or early life experience that makes it easy to train, it's not really good for the things dogs are good for. It's certainly not one you'd decide to breed. Is it more unreasonable to kill a difficult dog than it is to cull animals in a herd that don't meet the right criteria?

Where I grew up dogs were well behaved without a whole lot of training unless they were herding or hunting dogs. It would've been ludicrous to suggest taking a dog to classes every week to get over BITING people. Biters usually didn't get second or third chances unless they were otherwise really valuable.

My pet (hah!) theory is that our relationship with dogs changed a lot right about the time we started getting out meat sealed in plastic.
posted by pjaust at 9:00 AM on May 21, 2010


Do I understand this correctly that for every dog, no matter how well trained, there is a small possibility that he'll flip outwithout provocation and do some life threatening injury?

If that's so, how come people are still allowed to hold dogs??
Feline Behavior Problems: Aggression

Aggression in cats can be a complicated and upsetting problem for owners to solve. An aggressive cat can be very dangerous, especially toward children who may not be able to recognize the physical cues that are the warning signs of aggression. Additionally, cat bites and scratches are painful and can transmit disease.
So, how come people are still allowed to hold cats??
posted by timeistight at 10:41 AM on May 21, 2010


TomMelee:

It's absolutely right that a dog should not put its teeth on people.

when you bring a dog into your home---you enter into a covenant with that animal. You ask it to protect you, entertain you, and enrich your life. In return, it expects food and guidance.


These expectations are not mutually exclusive. I'm disappointed with and skeptical of someone who has the kind of experience with working dogs that you purport to have and yet doesn't recognize this.

Part of the covenant we formed with dogs during the thousands of years and millions of generations of their domestication was that they will not bite us. That had to be one of the first requirements, right?



As far as those who believe I am callous, insensitive, a bad dog owner, lacking the empathy to be a professional animal doctor, a member of the 'peanut gallery,' yadda yadda yadda: rest assured that I'm not sweating your derision.

This question was posed on AskMetaFilter, not AskDogFilter. Plenty of people without credentials have weighed in on this topic. At the same time, how is the community to know the breadth of my experience without a detailed dossier? While questions about Linux, or car repair, or what song is in this commercial may have definite answers, this is a question about which many people apparently feel qualified enough to add their response.

I chalk up the vehemence of some of these responses, as well as the perceived necessity to bring this discussion to MetaTalk, to the arbitrary mood of the site and the inconsistency of the population available to answer and discuss the questions on any given day. After all, this question , in which a woman was bitten by her fiance's dog, received more than a few responses in which respondents suggested the dog should be put down. As far as I know, there was no outraged MetaTalk discussion about those individuals.

I believe that my response helped the OP realize that his dog's behavior was not acceptable. I hope that, as a consequence, he seeks professional in-person assistance before his dog bites another person. That outcome, in case you were wondering, is a good thing. As for the dissenters, we're all entitled to our opinion. Even if they are knee-jerk responses, based on anecdata, or without merit.
posted by Seppaku at 10:47 AM on May 21, 2010


Seppaku - Note the differences between the situations presented in the two questions. The recent one involved a dog engaging in bad behavior that sounds like it has resulted in band-aids. The one you linked involved a dog exhibiting bizarre and vicious behavior - the asker spent two nights in the hospital after the attack.
posted by Carbolic at 11:41 AM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seppaku-
You will notice that after I posted this MeTa, I stayed right out of it until sixty-some-odd posts in. Initially, I didn't really have much to say about your response, because all I could really disagree with in your "best" answer was the casual way in which you toss out that if it was your dog you'd have him put down. In case you're wondering where the community derision comes from---really it's from that line. I think you were being pragmatic---but that's not how it came across.

The reason that I responded, in the way that I did, with the verbosity that I did, was because you seemed (in my eyes) to respond in a somewhat hostile fashion towards other members of the community who disagreed with you. Granted, some comments were out of line (the body count question, for example) but again---it's your tone as somewhere between "I know because I have experience", "I don't care what you think", and the really fairly free spirited way that you advocate euthanasia that really, by and large, turned folks against your answers. In large part, I put this here so that the derail could happen out-of-thread, not to pick on you, which is why, until now, I haven't singled you out.

Now, without another 5,000 word screed, I'll try to address your comments which, I assume, were pointed at me.

Regarding dogs not putting their teeth on us: Dogs can't talk. They can't say "I'm hurt" or "I'm scared" or "I'm hungry" or "Jesus make this kid stop pulling my tail" or "Stop throwing rocks at me" or "Take your hands OFF my human!". Dogs don't possess a depth and breadth of emotion, but they do comprehend more than "food", "poop", and "play." Dogs use their mouths for play, for work, and for utility (plucking burrs, for example.) We have never in that time asked that dogs forgo their mouthing instincts entirely---I rest safely because I am quite certain that if you tried to come into my house in the middle of the night, my big fluffy golden retriever ball hound would rip your face off before you ever made it up the stairs. Again, somewhat of a digression from your question, but basically: "No, disallowing the use of their mouths is not something we expect from our dogs." My Epagnul will take off my socks for me, put them in the hamper, bring me the remote, shred socks, and loosely clamp down on my fist whenever we play. You can't breed out biting as selectively as you can breed in, say, coat length or gross size. It's part of being a dog. Biting, not so much...but that's a delightful segue:

The dog in this question is not aggression biting. He's not threat biting. If a dog that size had any interest in harming a 2 year old, the 2 year old would be hamburger. There are myriad reasons for the behavioral response from this dog, anywhere from a startle response to a "I really don't like that" response to a misdirected play or, as said above, a dog who never learned how hard to bite. As I said before, there are definitely cases where euthanasia is the best overall option. As I said before, advocating it 1 paragraph into a description is, I believe, absolutely out of line for anyone with experience in canid behavior and training.

By and large I don't disagree with anything you've said. In fact I agree greatly with your comments about more dog owners taking seriously their responsibilities towards their dogs. What I don't agree with is the easy dismissal of this responsibility and/or the threats of "dangerous breeds."
posted by TomMelee at 11:47 AM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Seppaku - TomMelee said it the right way. I apologize again for the "body count" comment. You just seemed really quick to suggest euthanasia and I got over torqued.
posted by Carbolic at 11:55 AM on May 21, 2010


AskDogFilter would go like this:

I left three sirloin steaks on the counter while I was away for the weekend. Should I eat them?
posted by hungryandstupid to food & drink (7 comments total) [add to favorites] [!]

YES
posted by Fido at 12:42 pm on May 21 [+] [!]


YES
posted by Buddy at 12:43 pm on May 21 [+] [!]


YES
posted by Daisy at 12:44 pm on May 21 [+] [!]


YES
posted by Buster at 12:47 pm on May 21 [+] [!]


YES
posted by Lucky at 12:49 pm on May 21 [+] [!]


Of course, darling, why let that go to waste?
posted by Princess at 12:50 pm on May 21 [+] [!]

SQUIRREL!
posted by Bailey at 12:51 pm on May 21 [+] [!]
posted by desjardins at 11:56 AM on May 21, 2010 [15 favorites]


So, how come people are still allowed to hold cats??

I think it has been said earlier, timeistight, that there is a significant difference in scale in the kind of damage a cat and a dog can do.
Any animal can have behavioural problems, no question. What I find scary in how people talk about dogs is that apparently there is no way to predict an outburst in a dog. Somebody said earlier that a dog that suddenly flips has a history of aggressive behavious. But on the other hand in the media you often hear that happening and the owner or neighbours will say "we had no idea, she was always so good with kids!" or something of that sort.

I don't have any data to prove anything either way, nor am I seeking to, just using this thread to gather anecdata and information.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:45 PM on May 21, 2010


Seppaku: "There was recently an incident where an unattended dachshund ate a baby's genitals."

Nit-pick filter: Unless there was another incident with a dachshund and infant genitals, that wound up being a story that the meth-addicted mom made up to try to cover up the fact that she had emasculated her own son while out-of-her-head on drugs.

If you'd like to have her put down, I'm probably okay with that.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:57 PM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Never mind--turns out there was another "dachshund eats the baby's genitals" case. Okay--no dachshunds around my son.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:05 PM on May 21, 2010


What I find scary in how people talk about dogs is that apparently there is no way to predict an outburst in a dog.

That's ridiculous. Who is saying that?

...in the media you often hear that happening and the owner or neighbours will say "we had no idea, she was always so good with kids!" or something of that sort.

Well, you get the same thing with serial killers, don't you. "He was always so polite." All that proves is that idiots tend to get quoted in the media.
posted by timeistight at 1:36 PM on May 21, 2010


What I find scary in how people talk about dogs is that apparently there is no way to predict an outburst in a dog.

I disagree with this and also with the notion that, because a dog who wants to cause grave injury could have already done so, a dog who bites and draws blood is not dangerous. In my experience, on the contrary, things escalate. A dog a few streets over from us had knocked down and "nipped" several children (including my nephew), drawing a little blood, and then a few months ago delivered the sort of bites to an adult guest's hand that broke bones and required three nights in a hospital. I hate to think what would have happened to a child who sustained those kinds of bites at their own mouth-level to a dog.

That may also answer your question, Omnomnom -- if you don't consider just any blood-drawing bite to be "aggression," you'd feel a lot more surprised when a mere "nipper" delivers a really nasty bite!
posted by palliser at 3:34 PM on May 21, 2010


What about cats. And keyboards. And the sitting thereon. WTF, cat?
posted by found missing at 4:58 PM on May 21, 2010


Carbolic:

Note the differences between the situations presented in the two questions. The recent one involved a dog engaging in bad behavior that sounds like it has resulted in band-aids. The one you linked involved a dog exhibiting bizarre and vicious behavior - the asker spent two nights in the hospital after the attack.

Wouldn't it be better to address the problem BEFORE someone ends up in the hospital? A single dog bite is an aberration; a series of dog bites is a serious problem. That is what leaped out at me about the original question: "He's also bitten me several times; they're quick, single, hard bites that draw blood." Later the OP elaborated to say that the dog has not just bit him, but others as well. This dog presents as an unstable, unpredictable animal.

TomMelee:

the casual way in which you toss out that if it was your dog you'd have him put down

By what objective criteria this is a "casual" remark? This is something I have considered very seriously. I have a 60 lb American Staffordshire Terrier and a 65 lb Doberman. Yes, if they were to bite me, or members of my family, or my guests, "several times...quick, single hard bites that draw blood," I would put them down.

It costs you and other horrified bystanders absolutely nothing to be reactionary to my stance on an internet forum. But what would it cost me and my family and my life if they were to bite someone? What about the person they bit? What about the breeds they represent? Do you even think that the law would give me a choice as to their fate, were they to bite a human being?

Regarding dogs not putting their teeth on us..."No, disallowing the use of their mouths is not something we expect from our dogs."


Let's not conflate a dog using its mouth with a dog biting people repeatedly without provocation, ok?

The dog in this question is not aggression biting.

You don't know any more than I do as to why this dog is biting.

advocating it 1 paragraph into a description is, I believe, absolutely out of line for anyone with experience in canid behavior and training.

OP posted a question NOT about his dog that has bitten people repeatedly, but about how he can make reparations to the dog groomer that the dog has just bitten "good." That is, and I'm sorry if I'm not going to sugar coat it for you and the rest of the world, bullshit. If you have maintained a human aggressive dog for this long and, when it bites its groomer "good", you wonder if you should write an apologetic note, you are in over your head with that dog. It is a big red flag for "anyone with experience in canid behavior and training." An owner that has not addressed the dog's obvious behavioral problems and allowed it to bite again and again is not one that is likely going to be able to adequately handle the dog so that it does not bite again.

AskMeFi is not the place to seek advice about a human aggressive dog any more than it is the place to seek medical advice. Dig?
posted by Seppaku at 7:16 PM on May 21, 2010


Right, again, so you're saying the owner's a lazy slag and the dog dies because of it.

I should add to this conversation that I once brained a Rottweiler with a brick because he was attacking my mom and her terrier, seriously---this is not an ooshy-gooshy no-dogs-ever-die conversation. This is me, calling out you, for suggesting euthanasia when what you knew was that a dog bit a groomer and had nipped his owner a couple times.

That rottweiler in question was a "HA" dog in line for euthanasia, regardless of the fact that she was whelping a litter and starving at the time.

I'll give you that I'm not in a position to make an armchair diagnosis about the nature of the biting...however I'd be willing to bet a sum equal to jessamyn's library fees that if I talked to the OP at length about the dog I'd arrive at the same conclusion.

And, I disagree that it's not the place to seek advice about a human aggressive dog---which is weird for you to say given that it's exactly what you did. It's absolutely a place to seek advice just as much as it's a place to ask that question about those bumps on your genitals---it's anonymous and open and full of people like you and me who have both experience and advice pertaining specifically to the topic at hand.

That said, I'm really not attacking you or the majority of what you said, the "Casual" nature of your euthanasia suggestion was the last sentence of an otherwise very helpful answer...and then a dogged adherence to your stance regardless of opposition.

Which is fine---I've learned there are very few answers with the virtue of being absolutely correct.
posted by TomMelee at 7:55 PM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you even think that the law would give me a choice as to their fate, were they to bite a human being?

If you think "the law" would force you to kill your dog, then let them FORCE you. Don't do it for them voluntarily.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:01 PM on May 21, 2010


regardless of opposition.

Regardless of the many 'favorites' my answers received, you mean?
posted by Seppaku at 8:10 PM on May 21, 2010


Nice is over and snark time has begun.

Lol! You're so right! It's all about the favorites!


Thread over I win. Begin the recipes please.
posted by TomMelee at 8:16 PM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


then let them FORCE you.

i think this is the point that seppaku keeps talking about with regards to how every dog owner's decisions can impact dog ownership for everyone. if you make the government force you, then you put another black mark against dogs and dog owners - and god help you if it's a "bad breed". there are already movements to outlaw certain types of dog ownership and there are many rental places that put "weight limits" or "breed limits" on dogs - the reason why? because irresponsible dog owners have behaved in a way that has raised fervor against them. a lot of it is fearmongering and i'm not suggesting you just willy nilly kill any dog before trying other behavior type modifications - but to say that if you come up against an aggressive dog issue that you should only put them down if you've been FORCED to - well, by then the damage is done and not just to you or the person your dog bit who will feel those ramifications, but to everyone who wants to responsibly own and care for their dogs.
posted by nadawi at 8:17 PM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you think "the law" would force you to kill your dog, then let them FORCE you. Don't do it for them voluntarily.

I'd rather, as I said, give my dog its favorite treat, take it for a long ride in the car, and bring it to the vet to die in my arms VERSUS than being sued, having it seized from my property, impounded as evidence and being euthanized by strangers while fearful, confused and alone.
posted by Seppaku at 8:19 PM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Lol! You're so right! It's all about the favorites!

Well, you seem to think that your opposition to my stance represents the community's opinion, but I don't think that is an accurate assessment. Do you?
posted by Seppaku at 8:21 PM on May 21, 2010


"Regardless of the many 'favorites' my answers received, you mean?"

Out of the thousands of users here, your comment got 29 favorites, TomMelee's got 25. There was a similar split between your comment in the originating post and those with an opposing viewpoint. I can't see how your position is validated in any way by this.
posted by HopperFan at 9:07 PM on May 21, 2010


Out of the thousands of users here, your comment got 29 favorites, TomMelee's got 25. There was a similar split between your comment in the originating post and those with an opposing viewpoint. I can't see how your position is validated in any way by this.

In a rudimentary, non-statistically significant way, it indicates that TM's stance does not represent the vast majority of the community's opinion, but rather that my answers garnered at least as much support as his.
posted by Seppaku at 6:46 AM on May 22, 2010


In a rudimentary, non-statistically significant way, it indicates that TM's stance does not represent the vast majority of the community's opinion, but rather that my answers garnered at least as much support as his.

If there's anything I learned from last November's favesperiment, it's that you really, really shouldn't use favorites this way. Bringing up favorite counts really lowers the level of discourse here--and as someone who loves favorites, I'd hate to see more ammo given to the anti-favorites crowd, because you're using them exactly as they fear.

In other words, please don't do this.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:03 AM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


It costs you and other horrified bystanders absolutely nothing to be reactionary to my stance on an internet forum. But what would it cost me and my family and my life if they were to bite someone? What about the person they bit? What about the breeds they represent? Do you even think that the law would give me a choice as to their fate, were they to bite a human being?

Also, Tom Melee, myself, and several other posters have already told you that we've been precisely in OP's place. I'm not quite sure why you're so hung up on insisting that you're the only person who's given thought to this question, because it's quite frankly not the case. We're not "horrified bystanders"--we're responsible pet owners who can share our experiences, no matter how difficult or painful, with the original poster. Who has already stated that he's seeking professional help for his biting dog. And your naysaying and insistence that because the OP has only just now realized the severity of the situation, there's no way it can be rectified, is short-sighted. It sounds like you've never been a pet owner in this situation (and I'll tell you now that all the hypotheticals in the world--all the foresight--are worth shit until you're actually in it). It's hard. It's heartwrenching. It's a situation that deserves empathy and compassion, not glibness. Your initial answer ended on a glib note, and the way you've dug in your heels and refused to acknowledge other viewpoints hasn't helped a thing. Seriously, please, if you ever face an owner like this one clinically, try to address them with a little more loving kindness, a little more benefit of the doubt. OP has indicated that he's willing to do the hard work and ask the hard questions necessary to keep anyone else from getting hurt. We might as well take him at his word.

(Also, bad time to bring up how ask shouldn't be used for medical advice, as just yesterday it helped get a diagnosis for a little boy suffering from lyme. But, whatever.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:14 AM on May 22, 2010


It sounds like you've never been a pet owner in this situation

On that point, you would be incorrect.
posted by Seppaku at 8:53 AM on May 23, 2010


Seppaku, please let us all know your approximate location so that those of us who are following along can be assured of the fact that you are not employed by and never will be my vet. Feel free to memail me if you'd prefer not to post it.

Your utter lack of sensitivity and dogged - get it?! - adherence to winning this argument as opposed to helping the OP is completely inappropriate in both forums.

Virtually everyone on the opposing side of this argument seems to be willing to grant that your ends may be appropriate, but since your first post, your means have been ridiculously severe.
posted by Sinner at 11:31 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


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