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Discussion Starter #1
Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I am completely lost at this point and need help. I have had my dog Deacon for almost three years. I adopted him from a family when he was 3 or 4 years old. He was kept in a crate for most of his life prior to living with me and it appears that he was abused in some way as he is skiddish around new people and it took him months to stop flinching at my hand when I would pet him.

Deacon is a Parson Russell Terrier and a very high energy dog.

Deacon has had problems adjusting in the past and tends to be aggressive to strangers in the house for the first time. Not extreme aggression but he would tend to nip at peoples ankles when they turned away. He also snapped at two friends on seperate occassions when their hair would fall in their face, and it appeared he was simply playing as if their hair was a toy of sorts.

Over the weekend Deacon viciously bit my friend in the face with no warning or precursor, out of nowhere it seemed, and maliciously. He was fine with her in the house and knows my friend well. He continued to sit with her on the couch and sleep in her lap throughout the day. That same night, as he was laying on her lap, and I sitting next to her and him, in a single, quick motion he turned quickly and bit at her face, enough to leave a bruise and would have taken her eye out if she hadn't been wearing glasses, which were cracked by this.

What do I do? I can't have Deacon bite people. This was the first time he did something that appeared completely uninvoked. In the past, it seemed as if he had done it because he thought there was a toy. Or when he didn't trust somebody in the house he would nip at there ankles but never actually bite down.

I am open for suggestions, at this time I am worried that my only course of action is to have him put to sleep.:(
 

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The out of nowhere bite could have been caused by some type of body signal flashback that dog reacted to, the little dog is 6 or 7 yrs old. and you have mentioned no training at all on your post. Training is good for a number of reasons because it gives you a chance to see how dog reacts while training and gives you insight into your dog whether the training is successful or not. Quick answer to your problem is dog is crated while guests are present. You definitely do not want dog sitting in anybody's lap. A behaviorist would definitely be the order of the day after a good physical exam for health problems. The dog could have some chronic pain from abuse that you don't know about.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That is correct, I do not believe he was trained before I got him and I have never taken him to training. I have been successful teaching him the basics; don't jump, sit, lay down, roll over, heel, returning to me when called. But never actually took him to a training class.

I did just have him at the vet for his annual checkup as well as to have his shots brought current. During this trip he stayed for three days as I was travelling and I figured while he was being boarded to have his checkup, two birds with one stone type of thing. When I picked him up everybody commented on how good he was and how nice of a dog he is. Even the vet wrote a note on his "health report card", to quote the vet "Nice Dog!! :)".

To me, the only times I have seen aggression towards people is when he is in the house, protecting his territory (Territorial aggression). I have crated him in the past while I have visitors for this exact reason, I don't want to chance that he snaps or bites somebody. But this is a long time friend who he was comfortable with. I am getting a roomate soon so the crate will not be an option as I refuse to crate Deacon forever, that is why I adopted him in the first place.

As you mentioned WVASKO, I can't trust him alone with a dog sitter for fear of what he might do to them.
 

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Over the weekend Deacon viciously bit my friend in the face with no warning or precursor, out of nowhere it seemed, and maliciously.
Don't take this as harsh, because you can't know a thing until you learn it. Ignorance is not the same as stupidity. Ignorance is curable.

That said: this day was coming one way or another. The longstanding behaviors you described should have been appropriately dealt with a long time ago. The bite did not come out of nowhere. I'll bet a box of Milkbones that somebody more dialed in to canine behavior could have seen the bite coming ahead of time. And there was nothing "malicious" about it.

Now, you have to decide to correct the dog's behavior, or resign yourself to having the dog put down. A vet check is in order to see if the dog has a physical/medical problem that is making his behavior more volatile. Once that is ruled out, a consult with a behaviorist is the next thing on the list. This is not the kind of thing you'll want to tackle without help.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I agree this is something I need help with, hence my post. I am not an expert in dog psychology and maybe I could have handled his past behavior differently, no offense taken. But I do know no matter what any behaviorist will tell me, I have no way of knowing he won't do something like this again. Maybe a trained behaviorist would be able to pick up on his vibe before he actually bites somebody, but I can't do that, don't have that skill.

I would like to say it is as easy as deciding to correct his bahavior, but in all honestly, he was acting like the best dog in the world the entire day leading up to the event, even seconds before it happened, so to me it was unpredicatable. And the way in which he did it was malicious in both sound and appearance. Maybe it was a matter of time before it happened, but in all previous instances he showed warning signs before just attacking, he always would growl or shy away which indicated to me he was uncomfortable or nervous.


I am going to make an appointment with my veterinarian and explain all of this and ask them for a recommendation. I can't afford to have Deacon if he is a liability. And I refuse to crate him forever, that to me is torture and the worst thing you could do to an animal, even worse than putting them down.
 

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But I do know no matter what any behaviorist will tell me, I have no way of knowing he won't do something like this again. Maybe a trained behaviorist would be able to pick up on his vibe before he actually bites somebody, but I can't do that, don't have that skill.
That's the reason to consult a behaviorist. He or she can come in, see how the dog acts, and figure out why he's doing what he's doing. Then you can begin training from there.

The behaviorist can tell you when crating would be appropriate and what to watch for when he's not crated. He/she can help you set up the dog for success by showing you how to introduce him to people and what behavior to allow (on lap, etc.).

My two-year-old dog is a rescue. He doesn't have the same issues as Deacon, but he has issues of his own. He doesn't like people to reach for him. He prefers to do the approaching. This is even the case with my friend, who he spends hours with each week, and who was with me at the Humane Society when I got him.

I hope you'll visit http://www.iaabc.org/. I hate to see Deacon's fate depend on a vet when he doesn't know the cause of the problem. The behaviorist can help you with the cause and make a recommendation.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you THRACIAN, that was the input I was looking for, the link you provided led me to a trainer/behaviorist local to me that I can contact and get another opinion from. I will do anything I can to keep Deacon if I can be assured he isn't a liability to my friends and family.

I will post back after I work with the behaviorist.
 

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I am going to make an appointment with my veterinarian and explain all of this and ask them for a recommendation. I can't afford to have Deacon if he is a liability. And I refuse to crate him forever, that to me is torture and the worst thing you could do to an animal, even worse than putting them down.
I don't understand the crating forever routine because any dog crated can definitely have quality time daily out of crate and can also spend much free time with just you in home etc. But that's just me, if you think death is better than crating go for it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
THRACIAN, you provided valuable feedback and both Deacon and I thank you for it.

The rest of you can take a long walk off a short pier. If you want to criticise find somebody else. I was looking for input on options OTHER than death.

It's funny how you can find forums with helpful people and others with the crazies who don't listen, just boast their own opinions.

Assholes and elbows, everyones got one on this forum apparently.

Hey moderator, go ahead and delete my account. 2 of 3 responses were filled with nothing but judgment and criticism, I don't need that when I am faced with the hardest decision of my life.
 

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THRACIAN, you provided valuable feedback and both Deacon and I thank you for it.

The rest of you can take a long walk off a short pier. If you want to criticise find somebody else. I was looking for input on options OTHER than death.

It's funny how you can find forums with helpful people and others with the crazies who don't listen, just boast their own opinions.

Assholes and elbows, everyones got one on this forum apparently.

Hey moderator, go ahead and delete my account. 2 of 3 responses were filled with nothing but judgment and criticism, I don't need that when I am faced with the hardest decision of my life.
What responses in this thread were harsh, exactly? And who was criticizing? You asked for advice on a VERY serious situation and received responses to what you posted. We don't know any thing more than what you tell us, and respond appropriately. You understand that YOUR dog BIT someone and you admittedly have no idea what to do about it and every one offered up the exact measures you should be taking.
 

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Ive seen skittish dogs doze off and wake and be startled (with aggression) by the movement of someone?
Id certainly keep him off furniture/Laps
 

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I think the original poster may have over-reacted a tad... MarshMuppet was just merely suggesting the truth of the matter, that once a dog severely bites or injures someone, many people have their dog put down... And many people have their dog put down once it bites just once, for fear next time it'll be more serious.

I don't see where anyone was rude and offensive??

Anywho, I think everyone has added some really good and positive suggestions, and if my Mister Donnie ever bit someone I'd take everyone's advice so far.
 

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I'll stand by what I said. If the OP has a problem with how I said it, then I will say: get over yourself.

In most situations (barring mental defect in a dog) canine behavior problems are created and aided/abetted by us humans. Canine behavior is a mystery to many of us either because we: a) try to understand it using human behavior metrics, or; b) have listened to much of the misinformed "dog lore" that has been kicking around since before the Garden was posted to trespassing.

Dogs almost always signal their intent to bite. With some dogs, it may require a trained observer to identify the signal(s) and the triggers. None of us were born knowing how to read written language, so there's no reason to expect anyone will know how to "read" canine body language--until we learn how. Same-same with knowing that obnoxious (but seemingly manageable) behavior eventually escalates, if it is not properly addressed.

A trained behaviorist can teach you how to read and address the dog's behavior. It's not witchcraft or rocket surgery, you just have to learn the language. That's not to say that this dog can be saved, but you won't know that 'til you know it.
 
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