An Urgent Call
A few months ago I received a voicemail on my business phone from a man who was very distraught. He asked that I call him back right away, and I could tell that it was urgent. I called him back and he told me that his dog had bitten him in the face the night before. I asked for more details and he told me that he could tell that she didn’t want him to kiss her in the face because she was backing away, but he did it anyway. She responded with a bite to his lip.
He had already spoken to his vet’s office and scheduled an appointment for euthanasia that evening. I told him to please call the vet back and make it an appointment for an exam, because it was likely that something was medically wrong since this was so out of character for her.
The Veterinary Exam
I asked if she had been shaking her head or anything lately- it might be an ear infection. He said that yes, she had been shaking her head a lot and that his wife had gotten her some ear medicine. She had purchased over-the-counter medication; so I told him to take her to that vet appointment and have her ears checked by the vet. He called me later that evening and told me that she had a double ear infection that the vet treated.
We scheduled an appointment for me to see her after her treatment was complete. He thought that she would need four sessions with me because she was resource guarding food from the other dogs in the home and was reactive on leash to people and other dogs.
Training and Management
I went and met her and she was absolutely the sweetest pup ever! We put some strategies in place to manage the resource guarding, and worked with positive reinforcement on her walks when she saw triggers from a distance. The pups received a bunch of new enrichment toys to keep their minds stimulated and make them all happy!
She did so well that I only needed to see her once, with instructions to call me if they needed me. I have checked in once a month on them and things are still going fabulously!
An Important Message for Pet Parents
If you have a sudden change in behavior from your dog, please call the vet immediately for a thorough checkup. I won’t see behavior clients until the vet has seen them because there is frequently an underlying medical cause. If training is still needed after the cause is determined and the dog is feeling better, then I will proceed with seeing them.
Remember, dogs don’t just change behavior overnight. Something is causing it and it is our duty as dog parents to figure out the cause!
About the Author
Claire Clark is the owner of Soul Dog Training in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. She has been a trainer for five years and is the only accredited trainer in the Trust Centered Training method in the state of Illinois. Thinking outside the box to problem solve when dealing with behavior cases and rescue dogs is her specialty. She offers customized, in home private lessons so she can best help you with your specific needs.
Further Reading on Dog Bite Prevention
Dogs Who Growl with Teeth, Oh My! – Claire Clark
Building Trusting Relationships with Pets – Judy Luther
A Few Basic Rules About How and When to Approach a Dog Safely – Louise Stapleton-Frappell
When Not to Greet or Approach a Dog! – Niki Tudge
A Dog’s Communication System – Niki Tudge