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My wife and I have a spayed 9 yr JRT named Sammy. We got Sammy when he was a puppy and love him like he was one of our children. Sammy has always been very sweet and warm with our family. However, he gets crazy when any friends or neighbors come visit. For many years we have tried to help him with his fear of strangers (dog trainers and anti-anxiety medications) without much success. We now end up putting him in another room whenever people come over so that he is not scared.
We never had any issues whenever we put him away. A couple of days ago a neighbor came by and knocked on the door. Sammy jumped of the couch and ran to the door barking loudly. My wife picked him up and took him to another room. She placed him on the floor and proceeded to close the door. As she was closing the door Sammy charged towards the door. My wife place her arm in front of him in order to stop him. It was then that he bit her arm. The bite actually broke the skin. My wife is completely shocked and is very concerned for our two young childer, a 4yr old and an 11 month old. She is now considering having to get rid of him, which actually breaks my heart.
I am planning to take Sammy to a dog behaviorist. However, our vet believes that he will probably get more and more aggressive as he gets older and that he will eventually bite again.
I am extremely sad and can not imagine having to get rid of my best friend.
I am looking to hear from any other dog owners that have had similar experiences. Any input is much appreciated.
 

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I don't have much advice for you, I am sorry you have to deal with this. But, please know that vets are really great (most) in medical issues. However, behavioral issues are often better left to a behaviorist or trainer. Most vets receive little to no behavioral training. I have heard lots of situations on this forum where a vet will say something that makes people stressed or worried, when, in fact, the situation could be fixed.

The thing is, when Sammy is in this fearful state, he's really not controllable. So, it might help if, instead of picking him up, you hooked a leash to him, and took him to the other room. That way, if he tried to get out, you wouldn't physically have to block him, you would have control with the leash. In fact, you could tether him to a large piece of furniture in the other room, away from the door, so that you could easily walk out the door, without him being able to follow.
 

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I think this is more of a management issue than anything else. I agree that picking the dog up to move him isn't wise. Most dogs don't like being picked up, so if you combine a fearful trigger, people at the door, with a fearful action, being picked up, you can easily trigger a bite.

Is he crate trained? A crate seems like the perfect answer to this problem. If you train him to accept crating, he can just go in his crate when people come over. And, since you're not using the crate to housetrain him, you could use a large crate if you don't like the idea of a smaller one.

As to the children, they're old enough to be told that we don't approach Sammy when he's acting like this and we don't bother Sammy in his crate. It'll be good training for the kids, too, in learning to accept boundaries.
 

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yes the dog was all ready aroused by the knock on the door, maybe teach him to go to the room on command when he hears a knock at the door, make being in the THE BEST thing EVER, put his fave toys, maybe a stuffed kong maybe play with him in there so he associates the room with good things.

please see the behavorist before getting rid of him, fear biters are not adoptable out of most shelters :(, he bit your wife out of fear, he likly was over threshold & wasnt in control of what he was doing, fear isd an emotion not a 'choice' so giving aa dog a treat or saying ots ok after they do something like this is not going to renforce the bahavior, its going to renforce that you CAN be trusted to protect him.
 

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Just like you wouldn't take financial advice from a doctor don't take training/behavioral advice from a vet at face value. I'm not putting vets down, But I've heard bad advice from a vet many times. (like a recommendation for science diet) I hope the behavioralist can help you! Also don't believe anyone that tells you "now that he's bitten a human he will do it again."
 

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Was the dog still barking when it ran to the door? It is possible that if the dog was barking then your wife accidently put her arm in the way of an open mouth - not a bite in my book.

Put a leash on the dog as soon as he starts barking and walk him to a crate. Crate train him so that the crate is a good place, not a punishment for barking.
 
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