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I have a friend whose dog began biting 2 years ago. The dog is now 5. He bit her 3 times this year. She had to go to the ER for stitches, etc. She hasn’t taken him for training on this behavior and says she will be careful! Why would a dog start to bite his dog-mom out of the blue when he didn’t ever before?
 

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I have a friend whose dog began biting 2 years ago. The dog is now 5. He bit her 3 times this year. She had to go to the ER for stitches, etc. She hasn’t taken him for training on this behavior and says she will be careful! Why would a dog start to bite his dog-mom out of the blue when he didn’t ever before?
But, it hasn't come out of the blue. He's been biting her for two years. And there'll have been a lot of subtle signs that she missed (or, in the dog's mind -, ignored) long before teeth ever touched skin.

This is a very dangerous situation. Each time he bites, he needs less provocation than before and the severity will escalate. She cannot ignore this. If he bites her, he'll bite a stranger. He'll bite a child.

Your friend doesn't need a trainer -, she needs a qualified, reputable behaviourist who is up-to-date with the latest scientific methods.
 

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It's very, very rare for a dog to start biting truly 'out of the blue'. Much more often, we miss the signs that there's escalating problems, or even accidentally put the dog in a situation where they feel they have no other option but to bite. That being said, he should have a thorough veterinary workup if he didn't get one when this behavior change happened, in case there is a medical problem underlying the biting. A medical condition that impacts a dog's mood, behavior, or defensiveness due to pain is the only thing I know of that can cause genuinely sudden severe biting with no leadup or forewarning.

But as I said. We miss a lot if we don't know what to look for. Dogs give us tons of body language when they're uncomfortable - lip licking, side-eye, tight lips, etc. - that humans aren't hard-wired to recognize. There's lots of incidents of dogs who have been giving these signals for a long time to try to tell their owners that they're uncomfortable in a situation, but when they finally do resort to biting because everything else has been ignored, the owner assumes it's 'out of the blue' when really they've just missed important communication.

Similarly, some people think that they're reducing or preventing aggression by correcting more obvious ways dogs tell us they're uncomfortable - like growling or air snapping. However, this only means the dog stops growling and air snapping, not that the dog becomes more comfortable/less fearful in the situations it used to growl in. It's a real risk that these dogs will eventually be pushed past their limits and jump immediately from seeming 'calm' to a full-on bite because they've had all their obvious 'leave me alone' signals suppressed.

Your friend is in a dangerous situation. A dog that's given someone stitches needs IMMEDIATE professional intervention. In the meantime, she needs to be employing a muzzle and keeping the dog away from contact with other people. That might not be permanent, but if she doesn't know the dog's triggers, it's her responsibility to protect the people around her from her dog.

Even if your friend were here giving us way more information about the bite and history of this dog, I'd say the same thing. We can't help. Rule out medical causes as thoroughly as possible. Then she needs a behaviorist - preferably someone certified through a reputable third part organization like APDT, IAABC, or CCPDT (all orgs have search functions on their websites to find trainers/behaviorists near you) - who has experience with bite cases. She needs to work with this person to figure out why this is happening, what she's missing, and what's triggering her dog, then figure out if there is a behavioral plan that can work for them. It'll probably be expensive. So will court fees be if her dog injures the wrong person (or, goodness forbid, a child).

If she's not willing to do this - and especially if she's not willing to implement restrictions to keep other people safe from bites - she needs to consider euthanizing the dog. I don't say this lightly. But this dog needs intervention. Rehoming isn't even an option, because rehoming a dog that's caused severe damage with their bites (and stitches are pretty darn worrying) is extremely irresponsible and can (again) open your friend up to legal action if the dog injures someone in their new home.
 

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For the record, Dr. Ian Dunbar's Dog Bite Scale (attached) is still used today in court to discuss severity of dog bite cases. The bite with stitches sounds like a level 3 or 4 - depending on how deep the punctures were and whether the dog bit and released quickly or bore down and/or shook their head (like they'd do with prey or a toy) after biting. Level 5 is a full-scale attack with multiple bites. Level 6 is death of the bite victim. Many level 3 biters CAN be rehabilitated! Level 4 is possible, but harder and there may be fewer behaviorists willing to work with these cases. But all level 3+ bites need professional intervention, especially when this is a chronic, repeating problem (as opposed to, say, a single bite incident because the dog was extremely distressed or in pain).

And even a level 3 biter can cause severe, potentially permanent damage - even death - if that bite lands in the wrong place (like the face) or on a small child.
 

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I have a friend whose dog began biting 2 years ago. The dog is now 5. He bit her 3 times this year. She had to go to the ER for stitches, etc. She hasn’t taken him for training on this behavior and says she will be careful! Why would a dog start to bite his dog-mom out of the blue when he didn’t ever before?
If the dog has been biting for 2 years it is not out of the blue. Dogs are dogs and humans are humans.. this woman is not a "dog Mom.." This is a dog and the person is it's owner.

Some dogs need clarity and boundaries established and when those are not established the dog can start running how things work. I have seen this in strong working line dogs.

In other cases dogs bite out of fear or surprise. Some dogs will "climb the leash" and bite the handler (there are many reasons why that happens.. usually due to lack of clear handling).

In this case there is insufficient information to know why this dog is biting this woman and biting her seriously. She needs to have a professional see the interaction and a plan of action needs to be established. In the case of a very strong dog doing this it may be too late to change the dog's behavior and the dog may become more and more dangerous. As everyone else said, she needs a professional that truly understands aggression in dogs to help her.
 

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(1) As others have said this dog needs an trainer today. Not tomorrow, not next week TODAY

(2) Because I don’t know the dog or the person involved, I’ll say the one thing no one wants to. Euthanasia in these cases can be warranted. If she’s tried everything, and this dog is still biting her- everyone’s life is 100% miserable. Dogs that bite their owners are not happy dogs. And owners that have dogs that WILL bite are living with some fear 24/7.
 

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HAVE THE DOGS THYROID CHECKED! I do rescue and many times the dogs thyroid is off the chart. In fact one of my personal dogs thyroid went off and he started biting. Make sure they do the full Free T4 and TSH blood test. I use a vet in California and she is world renowned on Thyroid and Auto-immune issues. She has helped our rescue many many times and we are in Texas. Jean Dodds is her name. Hemopet | A Healthy Pet For A Happy Home I wish them the best of luck and hope they can find out the reason for the biting.
 
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