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NancyH
NancyH, Dog Expert:Rescue, Train,Breed,Care
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 31958
Experience:  30+ yrs dog home vet care & nursing, rescue, behavior&training, responsible show breeding, genetics
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shepherd: my 3 yr..3 stitches..chasing..her exchanged bodily fluids

Customer Question

i'm having problems with my 3 yr. old shepherd. she just bit a neighbor, needed 3 stitches, i don't understand why she is doing this, she got out of the fence chasing a cat, the cat turned towards my neighbor and bit her, and also the neighbor has Hepatitis C, since the dog and her exchanged bodily fluids, can she contact Hep. C?

she is normally very shy of people when inside the house, outside of the house she is a different story, since the biting incident on saturday night, she has been fairly quite and will go down to the basement and lay on the couch downstairs, i have 2 other dogs (spaniels) in the house. she is good with them, she is good with who comes into my house, she is not fixed, would this help the situation if she was spayed?
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
What started all this is your dogs high prey drive. You said she was chasing a cat. High prey drives are common in German Shepherds.
When the cat neared the neighbor your dog moved to get the 'competitor' for the prey away from what she was chasing or swapped her choice of 'game' from cat to neighbor because she was all revved up from the chase.
The bad news is your dog is not properly bite inhibited either which is why she drew blood and did such a serious wound when she bit. Dogs need to be trained to never bite humans and while its better done when they are pups you can work on it with an adult dog too through training.
Hepatitis C is a human disease. Dogs do have a form of hepatitis they are subject to but it is covered in the standard vaccinations given to dogs. Its the H in DHPP part of the annual vaccines.
I think one of the best things you can do to keep something like this from happening again is to take your dog to basic obedience classes. The site www.apdt.com has lists of trainers and how to choose them. You may even want some private help at home to learn how to manage your pet. A dog that is responding to a command is not deciding on its own what to do in a situation such as chasing a cat.
Improve your fencing so the dog cannot escape. If you cannot change the fence itself you might find using an invisible fence inside your regular fence would work to keep her in.
You may also find she is a better dog if she is given more exercise than she is now getting. By this I mean directed exercise where you do something with her like games of fetch, or long walks, or even jogging, or running beside a bicycle or swimming etc.
One big hazard here is lawsuit liability. You may find it hard to get homeowners insurance with a dog that has bitten someone on the property. You need to think about the fact that this could have been a child's face instead of an adults body that go bitten.
While spaying is a good idea that alone won't change your dog's behavior. She will still think its great fun to chase a cat and may out of fear or prey drive think its ok to bite a nearby human. Changing that will take training and work on your part to have her see you as pack leader and understand that you are the one who decides when its ok to chase and react to nearby people etc. German Shepherds THRIVE on training and do really well with it usually.
If you were considering rehoming her you might want to rethink that. You are the best one to work with her because you care for her. In rehoming her the big problem is the type of person who wants a dog that bites is seldom the type of person you want to have your pet.
I do think you could work with her and help her be less timid and more oriented to home life instead of chasing prey for entertainment.
Hope this helps you!
NancyH, Dog Expert:Rescue, Train,Breed,Care
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 31958
Experience: 30+ yrs dog home vet care & nursing, rescue, behavior&training, responsible show breeding, genetics
NancyH and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Nancy Holmes's Post: THANK YOU FOR YOUR ANSWER. IT MAKES ALOT OF SENSE. THE ANIMAL CONTROL DOG WARDEN HAD CALLED ME ABOUT THE INCIDENT AND SHE WAS FAIRLY RUDE. MEKO HAD ONCE NIPPED A NEIGHBOR ABOUT A YEAR OR SO AGO IN THE PANT LEG, NO SKIN INVOLVED. SHE ALSO NIPPED ANOTHER NEIGHBOR, NO PUNCTURE WOUND INVOLVED BUT GAVE HER A BLACK/BLUE MARK. THIS DOG OFFICER STATES ABOUT KEEPING HER CONFINED FOR 10 DAYS, WHICH IS NORMAL AND ALSO ABOUT POSSIBLY DEEMING HER A DANGEROUS ANIMAL WHICH SHE IS NOT.
SHE FEELS SINCE SHE IS 3 YEARS OLD SHE IS NOT TRAINABLE IN OBEDIENCE SCHOOL WHICH MEKO IS ENROLLED IN. THE TRAINER FEELS, SINCE HE HAS RAISED AND TRAINED GERMAN SHEPHERDS FOR YEARS THAT HE CAN TURN HER AROUND TO THE POINT THAT I CONTROL MEKO'S DECISIONS. MEKO SEEMS TO BE AFRAID OF GOING OUTSIDE NOW. I GO OUT WITH HER BUT SHE ALWAYS TURNS TO SEE IF I AM WITH HER, AND DOESN'T BARK AS MUCH AS SHE USED TO. THE NEIGHBOR THAT MEKO BIT, IS NOW SUING MY INSURANCE COMPANY, TRYING TO GET NEIGHBORS TO CALL HER ATTORNEY OR WRITE LETTERS ABOUT MEKO, BECAUSE SHE WANTS MEKO PUT DOWN. MY OTHER NEIGHBORS REFUSE TO DO THIS. SHE ALSO MADE A STATEMENT TO ANOTHER NEIGHBOR THAT I ASKED HER IF SHE ANTAGONIZED THE DOG. I NEVER ASKED HER THAT AT ALL. NO ONE SAW MEKO BITE HER, BUT OBVIOUSLY SHE DID. BUT SINCE SHE RAISED THE QUESTION OF ANTAGONIZING THE DOG, MY QUESTION IS NOW DID SHE? DID SHE DO ANYTHING TO PROVOKE THE DOG INTO BITING HER, SINCE SHE IS NOW SUING ME, AND WE HAVE BEEN FRIENDS WITH EACH OTHER. MY INSURANCE PAYS $5,000 MEDICAL AND UP TO $300,000 LIABILITY. THERE'S HER MOTIVE FOR SUING AND MY ATTORNEY KNOWS HER ATTORNEY AND THAT HE IS OUT FOR MONEY. THE DOG OFFICER STATES HOW CAN THE DOG TRAINER KNOW HOW MEKO IS WITH NEVER MEETING HER, JUST GOING ON WITH HOW I DESCRIBED MEKO'S PERSONALITY. WELL HOW DOES THE DOG OFFICER KNOW MY DOG TOO??? I DON'T FEEL SHE IS DANGEROUS OR VICIOUS. WHEN SOMEONE IS IN THE HOUSE, SHE IS FINE WITH STRANGERS, JUST NOT OUTSIDE ALL THE TIME. MY QUESTION ALSO IS HAS THIS BITTEN NEIGHBOR BEEN PROVOKING MY DOG FOR AWHILE??? I FEEL I AM FIGHTING FOR HER LIFE NOW. THE DOG OFFICER DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT PUTTING HER DOWN, BUT HOW CAN I FIGHT THIS, WITH HOW GERMAN SHEPHERDS OR ANY DOG MIGHT BE, BEING TERRITORIAL, BEING TIRED OF BEING PROVOKED AND ANTAGONIZED? THIS WOMAN WHO WAS BITTEN IS GOING AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD LIFTING HER SHORTS UP TO SHOW EVERYONE HER WOUND, IN STORES , WHEREEVER SHE GOES. AND PLUS THE STORY IS CHANGING, GROWING , EXPANDING , SAYING THIS ONE SAID THIS, THIS ONE SAID THAT. THERE IS NO DETRIMENTAL MARK IN MEKO'S CHART AT THE VET'S OFFICE. PLEASE ADVISE.
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
You may wish to put up a video camera to observe your yard area while your dog is out there if you let her out alone there still.
You can't know if the neighbor provoked her at all but provocation to a dog and provocation to a court can be very different things.
You are at risk for losing your insurance as most will cancel you after a dog bite claim is brought unless you 'get rid of' the dog (they are not very nice about it).
I'm sure your trainer knows his stuff if he is familiar with Shepherd behavior. The dog officer often doesn't have to know anything much about dogs to get that position. However you do have to understand the officers' point that the dog may be a risk to other people. I would suggest asking the dog officer what he or she feels would provide the best secure situation for containing the dog. Ask for help in resolving the neighborhood problem and in devising proper confinement instead of antagonizing the dog officer. Its the dog officer's job to look out for everyone one else. The only one in your town who really cares how things come out for your pet is you sadly enough.
I would suggest going to the trainer and asking for a professional evaluation of your dog for your court case. If your vet can suggest one then go to a veterinary behaviorist for the same information too. A proper depiction of your dog's temperament, a training plan to change the dog, and a plan for better confinement may help keep your dog from being court ordered to leave town or be euthanized.
Hope this helps and I'm so sorry for your problems :(
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Nancy Holmes's Post: oh i do understand the officer's point. this is why i hired a reputable trainer. she should at least be given a chance. too personally involved i guess, and i'm not a vindictive person, since once my daughter was bitten by a friend's dog and understands a dog is a dog and her dog had bitten before also. just a tough situation. thanks
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
You are welcome. The professional evaluations of your dog may be a big help as might be seeing what your neighbor is doing to your dog (if anything) on video!
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
update on issue of dog bite.

shepherd has been going to obedience school and the change in her is amazing and how fast she has learned. i have no worries about her being deemed a dangerous dog as per reading the dog law statutes on a dangerous dog and of the many photos i have been taking of her with people she never met.

as per the insurance issue, it has now gone further to a special investigation unit for insurance fraud on the victim's part.

thank you for all your help
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
You are welcome and I hope all turns out well and I'm glad you are finding training rewarding!

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