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Discussion Starter #1
I adopted a 15 month old 40lbs mix about a month ago. For the most part he has a great disposition and has been super loving. He has had his share of issues, but his transition into my home has been great. He had some problems with light mouthing and biting play with me, but it was fairly controlled and I followed the advice from "the bite stops here" After I would come back from leaving the room I would make sure he had something to chew on or we would take a long walk to get his energy in check. It all seemed to be getting better and I felt like were getting a handle on it. Until today...

I came home mid day to give him a walk and dole out some attention. We had a nice long walk and when we were sitting on the couch and I was giving him some love, he latched on to my arm and I was unable to get him off for at least 90 seconds. I tried to yelp, say no, distract him, anything I could. During this, he was calm - no tail wagging - it did not seem like play or anger. He only got worked up when I tried to get my arm out and he would growl. This happened twice today and it happened out of nowhere. It was scary to have my friend turn on me.

While is might be a thyroid issue, or other health issue (vet visit scheduled for Friday) if it is purely behavioral, what could be a way to address this. Does anyone have any good behaviorist literature for me to read up on? This site has been so helpful for me, but I am at a lost on what to do.

BTW the rest of his behavior has been normal today. Great appetite, great on his walk. loves his toys...

Another question: what is the best way to get my attacking dog off me. I tried to grab the scruff of his neck, but it didn't help and made him more aggressively clamp down. While I have had dogs before, there were a bit smaller (25-30lbs) and never ever bit or showed aggression

Thank you, thank you
 

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Was he just holding on? Shaking his head? Gnawing? Did he break skin?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Just holding on - he was still, no gnawing or shaking. I was wearing a sweatshirt, and he had a tight grip.

No breaking of skin. Just welts, swelling and bruising (yikes)
 

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I wouldn't call this an attack, or him turning on you. It sounds like a really weird case of resource guarding (your arm being the resource). I'd recommend contacting a veterinary behaviorist (not just a trainer). Your vet or the local animal agencies may have a referral for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That actually makes a lot of sense. He seemed very focused, much like he is with a new toy. Hopefully our vet can hook us up with some good help.


Thanks!
 

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I'm glad to hear you're starting with a vet visit.
I have a question though (that might be very relevant to the vet), you said you were "giving him some love", is there a particular spot you touched? I have a cat who gets horrible bladder infections, and if I touch his rear near his tail he will latch on, claws and all. First time this happened I had no idea, I didn't even clue in to the spot where I touched him, he "just attacked me".....its a thought, if your dog has an injury, infection, a sensitive spot or whatever you may have touched it inadvertently.
As for getting your dog off....hmmm. I can't really recommend anything that would be considered safe, but I can tell you what I did with Caeda when she did this kind of thing as a pup (though she was obviously trying to play tug with my jacket, which contained my arm): I looked her in the eye. Many can argue that it is a bad way to go, and it may well be, but once or twice it got Caeda to back down, since in her case I think it made her uncomfortable rather than aggressive. I found that trying to pull her off by the scruff made things worse, thankfully for me it was a phase that didn't last long! If you see it coming, or THINK you see it coming throw a toy, ask for a sit or something, it might prevent it from happening.
 

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We had a nice long walk and when we were sitting on the couch and I was giving him some love, he latched on to my arm and I was unable to get him off for at least 90 seconds. I tried to yelp, say no, distract him, anything I could. During this, he was calm - no tail wagging - it did not seem like play or anger. He only got worked up when I tried to get my arm out and he would growl. This happened twice today and it happened out of nowhere. It was scary to have my friend turn on me.
The two times it happened today, what EXACTLY were you doing and what was he doing right before it happened? Things rarely happen out of "nowhere" but many times, we don't read the clues a dog sends or don't understand them.
On the first time, when you were 'giving him some love'- were you hugging him or otherwise restraining him (like play wrestling etc)? Or were you gently petting him? Where were you touching him? (Back, belly, head, etc)
The first time, it sounds like you touched a spot that either hurt him or he really dislikes people touching. He stopped you from continuing to do that by holding your arm in what could be the equivalent of a human grabbing your forearm and holding it tightly but without the intent to cause pain. As an example, my dog dislikes belly rubs, esp. when he is on his back. I have desensitized him to it for safety in case someone else pets him like that (because so many dogs DO like belly rubs, if he rolls on his back people assume he's asking for one) but early on he would try to put my hand or arm in his mouth to stop me- very gently because he has a soft controlled mouth but quite clearly saying "STOP IT!"

I do not see this as an attack in any way. Although you were bruised, some people bruise more easily than others and your dog may have had a hard time telling how hard he was biting due to the sweatshirt.

I would get a vet workup inc. thyroid and check over his joints and anywhere you were touching him when he first grabbed your arm. If he is completely healthy, I'd take a few sessions with a good positive trainer to both try to find his "trigger" (what is stressing or upsetting him enough to do that), to help read his signals before he grabs on, and how to stop him if he does. I don't think grabbing his scruff is a good idea, as you found; I think I'd probably try to sit really calm and still and see if he relaxes but honestly, I'd never dealt with that exact problem (dog not releasing after he's made his point)
 

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Another question: what is the best way to get my attacking dog off me. I tried to grab the scruff of his neck, but it didn't help and made him more aggressively clamp down.

If you're wearing a sweater, you can do some yoga moves to get the sweater off.
 

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It wasn't out of nowhere. It never is. It's just really hard to tell where it is from sometimes because dogs can't talk. So you recently got him and he's 15 months old? And the bite didn't break skin and involved no side to side motions, no tearing, no growling?

I think he's reacting to either a physical pain, and the bite is "stop, stop right now" or he's reacting to something that happened in his past and he's trying to prevent you from doing the painful or scary thing the other person did. It's very possible he was punished for growling by his previous owner, so now he's learned to go straight for biting.

If nothing comes up at the vet (have the vet try to recreate the touch you were giving him at that moment, the same pressure, the same place, etc.), I'd consult a behaviorist, one that uses positive techniques. You do NOT want "traditional", "balanced" or anyone that says anything about "dominance".
 

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Just get someone that works for you. They're right, it doesn't happen out of nowhere. It could be that you were touching him in a painful spot. It sounds to me like a warning of some sort. I've seen dogs do it to children when they do something that hurts the dog or aggravates the dog. They hold the hand, but don't puncture the hand... look for a behaviorist that works for you and your dog. No offense to anyone, but don't have prejudged ideas about who you want... do what feels right for you.
 

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Just get someone that works for you. They're right, it doesn't happen out of nowhere. It could be that you were touching him in a painful spot. It sounds to me like a warning of some sort. I've seen dogs do it to children when they do something that hurts the dog or aggravates the dog. They hold the hand, but don't puncture the hand... look for a behaviorist that works for you and your dog. No offense to anyone, but don't have prejudged ideas about who you want... do what feels right for you.
I think it is always good to have an idea what you are looking for. And if the trainer/behaviorist/whoever tells you something that you don't understand, or that your gut tells you is wrong, pursue understanding what they are saying before you let them put a hand on your dog
 

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Just get someone that works for you. They're right, it doesn't happen out of nowhere. It could be that you were touching him in a painful spot. It sounds to me like a warning of some sort. I've seen dogs do it to children when they do something that hurts the dog or aggravates the dog. They hold the hand, but don't puncture the hand... look for a behaviorist that works for you and your dog. No offense to anyone, but don't have prejudged ideas about who you want... do what feels right for you.
The reason I got so specific is that (a) dominance has been debunked for a while, and (b) if the dog is reacting out of fear, using corrections and dominance techniques is going to make things worse. Many people don't know what "traditional" or "balanced" mean and they don't have any idea what they're looking at when they see it. The nice person comes to their house, gives a pseudo-scientific spiel on why choke chains are totes necessary and now the dog is in far, far worse shape.

tl;dr? If this person knew what to do, they wouldn't be here asking what to do. OP asked, I answered.
 

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The reason I got so specific is that (a) dominance has been debunked for a while, and (b) if the dog is reacting out of fear, using corrections and dominance techniques is going to make things worse. Many people don't know what "traditional" or "balanced" mean and they don't have any idea what they're looking at when they see it. The nice person comes to their house, gives a pseudo-scientific spiel on why choke chains are totes necessary and now the dog is in far, far worse shape.

tl;dr? If this person knew what to do, they wouldn't be here asking what to do. OP asked, I answered.
So did I. We each have our own opinions. I stated mine.
 

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That is pretty much what I meant with "do what feels right for you and the dog". I didn't say "get some randome chop to abuse your dog into shape". So we mean the same thing, but vocalize 'em differently. ;)

I think it is always good to have an idea what you are looking for. And if the trainer/behaviorist/whoever tells you something that you don't understand, or that your gut tells you is wrong, pursue understanding what they are saying before you let them put a hand on your dog
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you all who gave advice. Here is some clarifications:

The first time, Bentley was laying on the couch with his paws on my leg and I was rubbing his head and shoulders. We had gone on a walk, he had just finished an afternoon snack and I was getting ready to leave. My immediate reaction after he bit down was to check him for painful area. He generally yelps at discomfort, but he was quiet. No growling or shaking, just constant pressure on my wrist. It wasn't the bite that really got me, it was the amount of time that he wouldn't let go.

Second time he grabbed me when I we were both walking out of a bedroom... there was no real interaction in the room, he might have been upset that he was being ignored.

I agree that my original post was incorrect calling the incident an attack. He had a crazy grip on me that I absolutely could not get out of, but it was more focused and not aggressive. Both times he had my wrist behind his canines and his mouth pressure was strong but not mild but. By the time he let up (due to me popping off his collar- which confused him) my finger was turning blue. Today my wrists have knotty bruised bumps.

Also - Bentley LOVES to get petted. He is not highly food or toy motivated and the best way to reward him is to give him a good rub down. Something that I was thinking about was that maybe he was getting upset about me walking away and closing the door when he started to mouth and play fight. He might have been trying to keep me there.

I do not think that he was in pain or I my touch made him uncomfortable, but maybe the vet will find something or test for something wrong in his system. Fortunately, I am in an area with great resources and behaviorists and I have already been researching good people in the area. We have avoided an incident today, but believe that this was not an isolated incident. Hopefully the issue will be addressed sooner than later so I can feel more comfortable around my guy.
 

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This is info on an unseen/unread dog but I would have a "to die for treat" that you can carry on your person. Just for luring the dog off the wrist as that could eventually cause some serious injury. Step one has to be get dog off wrist and pulling on collar may end up hurting you and confusing dog. If you can get him off wrist I would try to get a sit or something the dog can do before I actually give him the treat. This so he does not think the treat is for grabbing wrist.

Is the above going to help/work, don't have a clue just something to try that hopefully is easy on dog and you.

You said it's your dog, while legally it is, but the dog may not agree with that and there is a bunch of mental adjusting that is going on with a new dog. He's 15 months old and you have only spent 1 month with the dog. Who knows what habits dog has going on in head.
 
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