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GWPMom
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PostPosted: 08/12/04, 11:18 am    Post subject: Biting Reply with quote

We recently took our male GWP with us on vacation to the Finger Lakes in upstate NY. He LOVED it, of course. We had several relatives stop by to visit and 4 of our nieces spent the night with us at the lake. Our GWP was very good with them all, until mid-day the 2nd day. My son was eating a sandwhich that our GWP was very interested in, when one of our nieces came up behind him and put her hand on his head. According to my son (I wasn't in the room), our GWP growled and grabbed our niece's head and bit her. She had to have 3 stitches, and we feel awful! Now I am very worried about our GWP around other people, especially children. In the past, he has growled and snapped at my children, but never bitten them, and that behavior has subsided with age (he's now 2). Does anyone have any suggestions? He went through the basic puppy training course, and my husband uses one of those electric shock collars when they are out hunting.
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wire
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PostPosted: 08/12/04, 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm, lets see. He demonstrated this kind of behavior in the past and yet you decided it wasn't a big deal and now he has bit a kid? Sounds like you are the ones at fault. He should probably be put down.
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GWPMom
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PostPosted: 08/12/04, 1:50 pm    Post subject: Biting Reply with quote

Oh my! I definately do not view the situation as being no big deal. This is the first time I have owned a GWP and attributed his behavior to his being a male, high-energy dog. We did discipline him when he was aggressive, and I am looking for helpful suggestions now because my family loves him, and he is generally a loving and loyal dog. This is my first time using a chat room for advice, and I must thank you for your kind response. I do hope that your dog (or anyone else, for that matter) never gives you any grief, as your first response would be to kill it.
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wire
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PostPosted: 08/12/04, 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry if you don't think my response was kind but you need to wake up! You have a serious problem that is worsening. Also being male and a gwp has nothing to do with it. My wirehair is a male and would never think of biting a child or anyone else unless someone was causing him or myself harm. As far as me killing my dog, yes I would put my dog down if he started biting people and became overly aggressive, but he's not like that because of proper care and training. Some GWP's can be a little sharp, which I like in them but that is not what you are describing.
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GWPMom
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PostPosted: 08/12/04, 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, thank you for your response. Actually, with the exception of this last episode, our GWP has become less aggressive recently. All I see when I look into his eyes is pure devotion, love and enthusiasm. If I saw visiciousness than I would consider the situation hopeless; however, I believe that he needs some better training, which is why I logged on to this sight, for some advice. I'm not going to put this handsome boy down without some additional training to help him realize that his behaviour is wrong. It is my responsibility to show him how to behave, and I believe that after some proper care and training (as you said), he is intelligent enough to correct his behaviour.
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dualgwp
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PostPosted: 08/13/04, 4:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mom, you have a tough situation on your hands. Just as a guess.. the dog was watching your son eat something he thought maybe should be his, and then he had a competitor for what he wanted. Even if we give the dog the benefit of the doubt, he bit a child and that's not acceptable.

How is this dog with toys, food and things he thinks are his in general? Will he willingly give up a bone, or a toy? Does he gobble his food? Can you take his food away while he is eating? If the answer to any of the above is NO, then you have some work to do.

If he is fine with all of the above, then something else is going on with him. This bite may well be a one time thing, and may never ever happen again, but I don't know that I would ever trust him again with kids around.

Some bites are unintentional, others are heartily meant as a warning by the dog. Tell us more about the relationship between the dog and the family. You may not get the answer you want in the long run, or we may be able to give you some insight...

In the mean time, keep a close eye on this boy when the kids are about.
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GWPMom
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PostPosted: 08/13/04, 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dual - That's why I am here. I'm a first time GWP owner and welcome your advice and insight - brutal or not.

As far as food, toys and bones:

1) He does not gobble - he'll take a few pieces away from the bowl and eat them, and then go back for more. I can and have reached down to take food away while he's eating, and I have even gotten down on my hands and knees and essentially stuck my face in his while he's eating and he's done nothing. He has never growled or snapped at anyone while eating.
2) Same goes for toys. He loves to retreive, and the worst he does is to hold the toy down with his paw while we're trying to pick it up to throw it (he's just playing)!
3) He has in the past growled while he had a bone in his mouth, but I could still reach down and take it from him. That behaviour has ended as he has aged, but he still does that when our other dog comes near him while he's chewing a bone, but he has never gone after her or bitten her.

I should have mentioned that he is VERY territorial in our house and on our property, and we never leave him loose in the house or yard when people are over. He has made it very clear to us that he is very loyal to our house and home and protective of such. However, away from our house, he is generally fine (ie, the vet's office, while out hunting); although is wary of strangers, which I understand is a quality of this breed. When he bit our niece, we were at a vacation home, and the house was full of our family members that he has met only once or twice. There were 6 kids there (4 strange ones) and 4 strange adults. He was friendly with everyone - playing and running with the kids - until my son sat down with the sandwich. Then he sat down in front of my son, intent on the sandwich when my niece came up behind him and put her hand on his head. Then he turned around, growled and bit her on the head. As soon as my son yelled at him, he let go, turned around and sat down again for sandwich.

I used to have a mini schnauzer that nipped at people, and I could look into her eyes and see a paranoid, nasty dog in there. I don't see that with our GWP. My gut tells me that he made a mistake, and my husband and I need some training techniques to help him not make that mistake again.
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Wickwire
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PostPosted: 08/13/04, 4:48 pm    Post subject: Biting Reply with quote

I have a few suggestions:

1) If not done already, neuter him. This can help decrease aggressive tendencies.

2) NEVER leave him (or any dog, for that matter) alone with a child, without adult supervision. Dogs don't relate to childeren the same as they do adults. Often times they will see them as more of an equal (ie like another dog) rather than a superior human being. Children are also at more risk for serious bites, being right at face level.

3) Seek help from a certified animal behaviorist!!! Ask your vet for a recommendation.

4) Until further directed by the animal behaviorist, avoid any situation which you suspect may initate an aggressive or high anxiety response. From your story, I would put him away when people are eating or have highly desired items. Do not disturb him while he's eating.

5) Work extensively with his obedience. Practice extended periods of sit/down stays. Enroll him in the "nothing in life is free" program. To get ANYTHING positive (food, a toy, a pet on the head, to go outside, etc.) he must first comply to a command (ie sit/stay then release for reward.) He also does not get to initiate anything; you (the boss) are in total control. If he nudges you for a pet, ignore or push him away. If he brings you a toy to play fetch, do not comply. You must initiate and end all activities.

Good luck!
Sandi
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dualgwp
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PostPosted: 08/13/04, 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Dr. Wickwire... glad to see you here!
Dualgwp.....

I agree with everything she said. Just be cautious, and you and your husband have to the the ultimate boss!!!!
Sit down and decide what this boy can and cannot do in life.. sit on the sofa, beg at the table, etc. Once you make your "rules" everyone in the family has to follow them.
It's not over yet.... but just be aware.
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GWPMom
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PostPosted: 08/16/04, 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Dual and Dr. Wickwire!

We have consulted an animal behavioral specialist, who recommended a book called "Ruff Love." We had already had our GWP neutered, and we are working on his obedience training. Thank you for your replies. I am trying to not be such a "softie" when it comes to treats like sleeping on our bed, and playing fetch. I appreciate your advice, and am working on the behaviour of both our GWP and my family!

Thanks again!
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Dave1967
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PostPosted: 08/23/04, 1:56 pm    Post subject: A pack can only have one leader Reply with quote

Let me toss out a couple of thoughts that I picked up reading, not only your post, but also the different responses.
1st – Do not throw wire’s responses out without giving them a lot of consideration.
2nd – I have had Wires for a long time and along the way I have met a few, very few, dog folks that could look into the eye of a dog and see good or bad. We seldom ever key in on the real reason for the pups actions. We usually look at the dog through our eyes. “He would really like this nice soft bed.” “I just know he will love these treats.” “He loves laying by the fireplace.” “It is so cold out side, he is sure glad to be inside.” If I could bet on what the pup really wanted I wouldn’t put my money on any of those niceties over a chance to be out in the field (on the coldest day of the year) with new scents to be checked out.
3rd – If the book that was recommended has a chapter on Pack relationships read it and re-read it. MY first impression is that you have created a very confusing environment for the pup. You love him and get down at his level to get in his face at mealtime and your “husband uses one of those electric shock collars when they are out hunting”. Who is the pack leader, you in the roll of good guy or your husband with the shock collar?
4th – With the exception of the fact that the little girl needed three stitches, the pups action do not surprise me. I think that there is more to the story than your son was able to grasp, and not having that information makes everything speculation. Anyone that has been around dogs for any length of time has seen one dog simply reach out and literally inhale another dogs head. This is not normally done with any malice’s, but rather (I believe) as a simple way of saying “shut up and sit down, I have your number and I am not playing.”
5th – Recommendation - you have received a lot of good information, but I believe that the key to working out this problem will depend on how well you are able to identify the structure of the pack and the pups place in that pack. This is a lot more then just socialization, you will need to really think about every lesson that you teach and in every case make the pup understand that you, your husband, and your children all want him to be a part of the pack, but that membership is depended on his behavior.
If along the way, you get any indication that your efforts are not working, do not gamble with the safety of your kids or someone else’s kids. 2nd recommendation – Unless your husband has had a lot of experience using shock collars, this is not the dog or the time to be gaining that experience with, box it up and put it away until you get the pack structure straighten out.
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