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My dog Riley of 7 years he is American Staffordshire

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My dog Riley of...

My dog Riley of 7 years he is American Staffordshire Terrier, we were sitting down to eat last night, when I voiced to him not to beg and go lay down he would not do so, I grabbed the top of his harness in an attempt to just lead him away from the table. He then proceeded to bark at me and attack me in my arm causing great damage to my arm which resulted in seven stitches on top of my arm and 5 stitches on the bottom of my arm leaving a 1" gape in my arm

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'm sorry to hear that. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Expert will know how to help your dog. What is the dog's name?

My dog's name is***** have had him since he was a puppy, I have only given him love, he has never been abused

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Riley?

Riley has always been a very loving dog he generally followed my commands, he has been through 3 obedience classes

Submitted: 10 months ago.Category: Dog Veterinary
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Answered in 28 minutes by:
9/24/2017
Dog Veterinarian: Scott Perry, Dog Veterinarian replied 10 months ago
Scott Perry
Scott Perry, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 3,536
Experience: DVM
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Hello. My name is***** and I am a veterinarian that can answer your question. I understand Riley attacked you recently after you grabbed his harness to lead him away from the table. I am very sorry to hear about what happened. Has this type of aggression ever happened before?

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Customer reply replied 10 months ago
Several years ago something similar happen, He barked at me aggressively but never attack me like you did last night...
Dog Veterinarian: Scott Perry, Dog Veterinarian replied 10 months ago

I am sorry to hear about this problem. It can be troublesome and scary, and also the bodily harm it can cause is a problem. The situation in this case is that Riley was showing high alert attention to an object he wanted and was pulled away. This sequence can create an overwhelming sense of frustration in certain dogs and they may redirect this frustration into aggression. Their baseline behavior is not aggressive, but when there is a high charge of anxiety because of having a barrier between themselves and an object then they may become highly frustrated. The problem for you was that your arm was the nearest target for Riley’s frustration. It could have been another object such as a toy.

Redirected aggression has a good prognosis, but there are usually other types of anxiety happening as well. Dogs that experience redirected aggression are lacking skills with dissociation from their anxiety and being conditioned to a more desirable response. This is what you will need to work on with Riley. This will also help to serve any other anxiety or aggression tendencies he may have in the future. Counter conditioning works by establishing other learned behaviors. It sounds like he has been to obedience training, so hopefully he knows how to sit and stay on command. This can be added with other learned behaviors. The goal of this approach is to identify when he is experiencing a moment of anxiety or frustration before those feelings actually happen. If it can not be predicted, such as maybe in the moment with the object Riley wanted, then the object should be moved and not Riley. Better yet would be to have a leash attached to Riley’s harness so that your hands and arms are protected if you need to move him. With dissociation, we are taking a moment that is predictably anxiety-provoking and perform learned tasks with positive rewarded behaviors. Over time, the negative behavior (i.e. aggression, anxiety) is replaced with a positive behavior. This is a quick overview of dissociation and counter-conditioning, but there is much more we could discuss.

If this was an isolated incident then all future moments where Riley is not responding to learned commands needs to be approached carefully. In each incident the object should be moved and not Riley. Above all, never reach near Riley’s head during times where he is experiencing these moments.

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Dog Veterinarian: Scott Perry, Dog Veterinarian replied 10 months ago

I am observing a lot of random lettering above my response. Are you able to read what I typed?

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