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New rescue dog bit me. My fault or his?

272 Views 10 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  DianaB67
I brought home our newest addition from a rescue this week. He is a 6 year old Pit bull. This is my first pit but I've been rescuing rotties for nearly 20 years. I'm used to strong and stubborn dogs. Today I was heading out the door, keys in hand, and Festus tried and succeeded to push past me . Luckily the door leads to the garage so he didn't get outside. I have no idea if he's a runner or not. When I tried to coax him back in the house he refused. I walked toward him and took him by the collar and gently tried to lead him back in the house. Without warning he snapped at my hand, getting my finger. No broken skin but it hurt. At that instant I loudly said "go" and pointed into the house. He finally went in, ears back and tail down. I felt bad. This dog has been a pleasure for the past 3 days. He knows basic commands, no known history of abuse or neglect. Has shot records dating back to 2012. Friendly with my current dog and submissive to her. I guess I'm looking for input how I could have handled it better. I think it may be stemming from the preconceived notions about pits because of negative media coverage and I don't want to let that affect me but afraid it has. Any advise greatly appreciated.
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Some dogs do not like you leading them by their collar and it has to be worked on. Next time I would snap a leash on and head back into the house. No matter how gently you try and lead them by the collar, it still tightens and maybe they feel trapped.
I was going to suggest the same thing--has this dog shown any apprehension about collar handling? Such a bummer experience for both of you :( My recent rescue did the same thing a few nights ago, but she definitely has a phobia about her collar and was stressed. Could something have spooked him? Sometimes my girl River is fine being left and other times she panics a bit like she doesn't think I'll come back--but she is still adjusting and getting to trust me and her surroundings. Maybe for whatever reason he got scared, not knowing you or the house, he tried to look out for himself? At least it sounds like he understood it was the wrong behavior.
I did work with him when I got home. I did test him by moving his collar around, scratching him underneath it. He did whip his head around but I sensed no aggression. I think you may be right. Never experienced that before. Will definitely have to work on that. I have grand babies who need to know not to pull on him. My husband was home so he wasn't alone. I think the car keys may have been a trigger. He usually stops at the door when I say "stay". At the jingling of keys he was intent on going out the door. He has stubborn moments where he just sits or lays down when told to do something. I've been easy going due to him being in new surroundings and losing his human dad. Not sure if he was being stubborn or scared or both.
He did whip his head around but I sensed no aggression.
I would recommend educating yourself on basic canine body language. A head flip is a measured and appropriate warning by a dog to stop what you're doing. The dog likely bit you because you did not listen to him when he did the head flip. The fact that he did not break your skin is also very deliberate. Next time you grab the collar, it could be worse.

"Fault" may not be the right word here. The shelter may or may not have known this dog had handling sensitivities. Or maybe you came off too domineering with a dog that did not yet trust you. Who knows. Fact is, this is the dog you have in front of you. I would not use force on a dog like this.

Also, "pit bull" really doesn't have any credence these days. I say this as a person who has seen hundreds of them and love them. Traditionally, they should show absolutely no aggression towards people, even in the worst scenarios. But pit bulls today are overbred, poorly bred, cross bred, to the point where the standard temperament cannot be predictably found in a shelter dog.
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He did not do the head flip when he bit. It was without warning. No growl, no whale eyes no stiffening. As I said, when i got home and tested his reaction to touching his collar, he flipped his head back at me and carried on. It was brief and I stopped the test because it did get a reaction and i did not want to push him.
I understand. What I mean is, he showed a lot of restraint when you tested him and grabbed his collar the first time. It is not surprising that he "skipped that step" and bit the next time. Although what your dog did was not desirable, it was totally measured and shows bite inhibition. Yes, he could have done even better and shown a ton more warning signs. But this dog, right now, does not seem too tolerant to this type of handling. But it's still nothing outside the norm for dog behavior.
That makes me feel a little better. Next time I'll use a leash if he gets past me into the garage. I've rescued several full grown rotties with behavior issues but never experienced one with collar issues. I'm not easily intimidated but this time I was.
Touch his collar and give him a ton of treats. It's really not uncommon. I'd try to put a gate somewhere so he doesn't try and pass you again though (my new newf did the same thing to me his first day here, wasn't expecting it at all, thankfully he just wanted to chill outside).
Thank you, that has definitely been started. I took him for a walk this am and he did fine when I took his collar to hook the leash. Definitely a work in progress.
I stayed up well into the night reading about collar sensitive dogs and how to correct behavior. After giving it some thought, I realized he's probably been man handled throughout his ordeal of losing his master. I was told he refuses to be caged which I only used with dogs not house broken or that get into the trash, etc. Since he has obviously been worked with and is well trained as far as basic commands and housebroken I haven't worried too much about it. He stays in the bedroom at night on his bed. No wandering around. I'm going to do my best to not over think it and move on while working with him on this matter. I do appreciate all the input. I may not have come to that conclusion on my own and chalked it up to a stubborn dog. Thanks again.
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