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Sally G.
Sally G., Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 9692
Experience:  Service /assistance dog trainer,Therapy dog evaluator and trainer, AKC evaluator, pet first aide and member of PAS Animal Response Team.
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My dog, a 6 year old cocker spaniel (rescue), adopted two

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My dog, a 6 year old cocker spaniel (rescue), adopted two years ago. He has bitten someone twice. Both times getting the lip, and requiring stitches.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Is your dog bleeding a lot?
Customer: He bit someone else in the past. I wanted to ask a behaviorist about best ways to proceed
JA: What is the dog's name?
Customer: Kobe
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Kobe?
Customer: 1) playing with a kid who was play teasing him. he gave a couple of warning barks...my husband did not separate them, and the kid was in the dog's face. 2) visiting my mom. he was on leash. i had all my stuff and was putting it down. her caretaker approached us, and i asked her to stay back (twice). She opted not to listen, and grabbed his collar to remove his leash (we were backed in a corner and could not get out of the way). again he bit the lip, person needed stitches.

You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply. Please be patient. This may take a few minutes.

I'm going to recategorize your question into "dog training" so you should get the help you've been waiting for.

Hello and thank you for usting this site to help you, I see Dr Salkin has moved this to dog training.

My name is ***** ***** I have been in the field for over 25 years. I am a Service dog trainer , therapy dog trainer and AKC Evaluator.

What happens when people that do not know the dog approach, is he fearful , does he try to back away at first?

How is he if you try to take something of value from him such as a bone or food?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
He has greatly improved. When I first adopted him, he barked at strangers. Now, he is calmer, and shows interest. He used to bark at runners and bikers, he no longer attends to those. Skate boards still get him going, as do most larger dogs. He is better with these...People usually ask if they can pet him. I say he is squeamish (now I say he bit someone). People approach cautiously, and he wags his tail, greats them and sits at their feet. He plays with same size or smaller dogs.I can get toys and other items from him, usually by sternly telling him to drop it. I don't tend to pull things from his mouth. But, he is obedient with drop it!

Thank you for that information. It sounds like you have a fear aggressive dog and these type of issues in a dog can only be taken so far and here's why. A fear aggressive dog will learn to trust those that are consistent in their lives, however meeting someone new there will still be caution in the back of their mind and if that person is calm, making no fast moves toward the dog , they may do just fine. However, if that same person makes a sudden move that the dog is not expecting then that person becomes inconsistent to the dog which triggers the fear. Usually dogs that feel they have no way to escape will bite. They do sometimes give a warning growl or bark, but if the human pays no attention to it, then they will lash out with a bite.

My suggestion to you is to always tell a person to not approach your dog at all. You have had two incidents of a bite, that will only go up with a fearful dog, because humans are unpredictable and do not head the dog's warning.

At this point it is up to you to protect your dog from humans.

There are three things that humans do that set off challenges to dogs. Looking at, talking to, reaching out to pet, are all challenges to a dog. A perfectly well balanced dog will not mind these challenges, but a fearful dog is going to magnify them 100 times and that is why they act out.

Is this understandable to you?

Now if when he has a valued item and you try to retrieve it without giving a command first and he growls at you, then you have a possessive aggressive dog as well in this mix which makes them even more unpredictable because he may see you or another family member as a possession and will act out if someone unfamiliar approaches. Dogs can bcome possessive over humans, toys, food, or space.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
That is my sense of this. he has improved so much with training and consistency. He no longer barks at runners, bikers, motorcycles, etc. Skateboarders are a work in progress. There are people he has spent time with for the past 2 years. I have informed them of these incidents. He seems very comfortable with our cleaning lady, for example. She is predictable, calm, cleans the house in the same order every time!I now tell EVERYone we run into that he is squeamish, and has bitten (if they ask to pet him, or try to talk to him). it seems a life style change that I have to make in my home (visitors).

You are doing the right thing. it is best to protect others and keep the dog comfortable,. It is human desire to get all gaga over cute dogs, not the dog's desire. Many do not know how to recognize a dog's warnings and body language. They thing a wagging tail means the dog is happy but this is not so. I am glad you are proactive in understanding how your pup feels. Too many try to change a dog with a fear personality and it never works. They can cope with many things, as long as those things are consistent.

A child is never seen as consistent to a dog, they make squeals and have uncertain movements and actions. So to a fearful dog this is chaos.

Sally G., Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 9692
Experience: Service /assistance dog trainer,Therapy dog evaluator and trainer, AKC evaluator, pet first aide and member of PAS Animal Response Team.
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Customer: replied 1 month ago.
thank you for your help.