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The doggy daycare just called to tell me Butter bit another dog over a toy. I feel just sick about it. The other dog has puncture wounds in his ear and is at the vet. I called the owner to apologize and tell her I'd take care of the vet bill. The dog has to be sedated so the vet can check his ear properly. I feel like the worst owner ever! I know I need to get us into another training class (if I can find one that takes a dog that has bitten another dog) and start being a better alpha. Obviously, there will be no more daycare for Butter. And all this after he growled at my guest this weekend when she tried to move him off the bed. Any insight, help, advice will be much appreciated. Ann
 

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shadow friend
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I would think a lot of dog bites and nips happen at a doggy daycare. It's likely as an owner, you would only hear about it if it left marks. Kind of like a dog park - there are a lot of minor incidents there as well. I don't see how you can have a bunch of strange dogs together and not expect a few incidents. Don't let yourself feel too bad, but if it were Max, I know I would want to find ways to stop worrying things like that from happening as well.
 

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So sorry to hear about Butter. :( First and foremost, ff the behavior is a recent occurrence, I would want a full medical examination including thyroid in order to rule out any medical issues.
 

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Tracer, Rumor & Cady
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Has Butter always had a problem when toys are around?

I think you are right....he is guarding space...and toys....
Do what youve always done...and you will get what youve always gotten...something has got to change.
 

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- Definitely have him checked by the vet.

- You may have to do one-on-one training with a trainer before he is allowed to join a class.

- Look into NILF (Nothing in life is free). It involves things like putting away all resources, food, toys, etc. The dog only gets them for good behavior. Someone may have a good link for it. In the meantime, you can just google it.
 

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I agree with the vet check. He could be in pain or have a thyroid issue. Then NILIF. No furniture privileges first and foremost. Sit and wait to be released at feeding time and for going outdoors. Just a bit of remedial boot camp, so to speak.

You are a good pet owner by the way! Not only did you take responsibility with the other dog's owner, you are trying to find a way to fix the problem.
 

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He would be allowed in any of the group classes I've instructed or been in, even with his bite history. But private and/or in-home lessons will better address your issues than group classes. While better responses to basic cues can only help, it doesn't address his concerns over her personal space.

Be sure you find a behavior consult or a vet behaviorist who uses positive training. Punishment can increase frustration and aggression, and especially as he's already displaying quite a bit of discomfort, we want to change his perceptions over personal space.

If you're needing help finding a qualified professional, let us know.
 

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Here is an idea - right now you are upset - you feel sad when you think about him - you wonder how it could be happening - you feel like people who know you and know of the incident, are talking about Butter. I think you should do nothing but spend time with him as often as you can, walk him a lot, work with him one on one and come to terms with what is going on. I think if you meet with a trainer now, you are going to get advice that is all over the place based on the emotional responses you are giving - and that will set the course of the training. You need to have your faith restored in him and you need to feel better yourself. Walk, walk, walk, and talk, and work on your relationship with him. Then when the fog of disappointment clears a bit - you'll be in a better place to meet with a trainer or go to a class. No one wants to be the owner with the dog that is the bad one - get this behind you and give him a chance to be successful in his behavior.

I am not so sure daycares and dog parks are all that great. Yes, they are with other dogs and are taken care of; however, there is plenty of opportunity to pick up bad behaviors in those settings - so give yourself a break -the other dogs are a strong influence. I have watched in amazement how my seemingly perfect dogs, have joined the gang. When I started to notice some of the little things they were doing after being at the dog park, I reigned them in and we don't go as often as we once did.

I'm sorry - don't beat yourself up - you will learn from this - we have all been in your shoes either with our children or our dogs, or some one else we cherish. I would take the time I need to observe him and get a better perspective before meeting with an instructor or going to a class.
 

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You don't know the specifics of how the bite happened - maybe the dog was pestering Butter and Butter was giving repeated warnings before it finally escalated, which in my mind is appropriate dog behavior. I know Flora has snapped at other dogs before but ONLY after she gave dozens of other non-physical warnings and the dog did not relent. She never actually bit the dog, but I believe the intention was there.

Flora has also growled at my family when they tried to remove her from the couch. We immediately removed any and all furniture privileges and haven't had that problem since. Butter and Flora are brother/sister... I know they are good dogs, and I know that they are not aggressive dogs. Butter just had a bad moment, and I'm sure with proper training and appropriate socialization you and he can get through this together. Do not beat yourself up over it, it only makes you feel worse - believe me, I know. :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you all so much for your advice and kind words. I feel so much better. I did take away couch and bed privileges but Butter growled at me when I tried to move him off the couch so I used treats. If I use treats and say "off" and then wait is this a good method for getting him off the furniture? I really don't want to me man-handling him.
He is a good dog and so smart and I love him to death. It's just a little scary. The other dog's vet bill cost me $290! But paying it was the right thing to do.
Marty's mom: yes, you are so right about stepping back and not freaking out because I have a tendency to do that!
Ann
 

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Magica Goldens
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Thank you all so much for your advice and kind words. I feel so much better. I did take away couch and bed privileges but Butter growled at me when I tried to move him off the couch so I used treats. If I use treats and say "off" and then wait is this a good method for getting him off the furniture? I really don't want to me man-handling him.
He is a good dog and so smart and I love him to death. It's just a little scary. The other dog's vet bill cost me $290! But paying it was the right thing to do.
Marty's mom: yes, you are so right about stepping back and not freaking out because I have a tendency to do that!
Ann
I'm sorry - he growled at you so you gave him cookies to lure him off the furniture??? You've got a cycle that has to be broken - NOW - not when things have calmed down. I don't care about the bite at daycare (honestly) - I think daycares are just about the worst thing we've ever done for our dogs. Put 50 dogs in a room with no time and space to get out of the over the top chaos of that many dogs in one place and you've got a time-bomb on your hands. Add that the daycare in question had resources (toys) involved is criminal...you don't know the whole story - one or two daycare attendants for a ton of dogs is not supervision. The bite at daycare may be part of the problem - but it's not the really the important part.

That your dog is growling at you and your guests over furniture is a HUGE problem. You are reinforcing the growling behavior if you start (and continue) to lure and coddle him to keep the peace. You need to involve a qualified trainer - NOW. I don't buy that you are too emotional to get fair advice - any competent trainer will hear what I heard and put you on a path to start fixing this. The longer that this goes on the more likely that you won't be able to fix it and the behavior will escalate. Also, you didn't mention if you or your guests have children - but I would absolutely not allow Butter to have any interaction with children until you have this sorted out.

Erica
 

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I know this a problem that needs to be addressed before it worsens, especially since he growled at you about getting off the couch:(, but....

You paid the vet bill and the bite couldn't have been too bad for only $290. So give yourself and him a break and concentrate on resolving the problem and not beating yourselves up over it. You won't accomplish anything that way anyway.:)

Good luck with new training. I hope this issue gets resolved very quickly.
 

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Keep a leash on him at all times. That way, if he's on the sofa, you can use the leash to get him off. Use the "off" command when you are doing it. It's really not uncommon for a dog who is too big for their britches to push the envelope, so to speak. When my Jasmine was a youngster, she would growl at me when I made her get off the couch. I was never afraid that she was going to bite me, it was all noise.

We started NILIF and the growling stopped very quickly. She was just being bossy and as long as she could get away with it, she would. Keep a leash on him so you have control over the situation. Don't lure him with treats, that inadvertently reinforces the growling.

Honestly, even though you offered to pay the vet bill, the daycare should have paid it. They took the responsibility of your dog and the other dog and they should have some sort of insurance that would cover this exact thing.
 

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Using a treat to get him off is not the worst thing that can happen. If you need him off now, go ahead and do that. Talk to a behavior professional on how to handle the situation in the future, but until you have that appointment, YES use the treat.

Growling is not the worst thing in the world, yes we'll need to address that and decrease his discomfort in those settings. But the growling itself is not the real issue. He is very likely giving off lots of other body language showing his discomfort, but we tend to be very poor at noting it.
 

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Puppies bite puppies. Dogs bite dogs. I don't think I would get too worked up over an incident like this, especially when you have no details.

If it becomes a pattern, that's a different story.

Puncture marks happen during play sometimes too...
 

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I am guessing Butter is just a wee bit over a year old. Still very much a puppy - and puppies go for the ears. It could have been rough play.

On the couch business . . . this is what I do when Marty, my alpha dog, doesn't move quick enough out of an area and thinks if he lays there nice and quiet and hides under his paws, he can stay . . . no kidding . . . he does this : )

I stand tall, and I point the way out, and I say, "Marty, out." Now if he were on the couch, and would not move, I would stand over him, and point in the direction I want him to go, and say "Marty, off." And mean it.

No cookies for doing something he should do. . . . no, no, no : )

If he is slow, and sometimes they are in another world if they have been enjoying a lovely nap, I say it again. Sometimes I even have to give him a nudge. I'm not ruining his day - I am giving him direction. Do not react if Butter growls - stand taller and say your command again.

You can do this. You are the queen of Butterland, you rule.

Be tall, have an imposing presence, pull your chest high and and ignore the back talk - physically, turn your back on him when he behaves that way.

Look for an opportunity to give him a cookie - such as sitting, before he goes out the door with you.

That little Golden punk . . . he's got you giving him cookies when he won't get off the couch : )

Bring him here, I'll fix that : )

I think you're gonna be fine, once you learn to wear your crown.
 

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Here's my two cents about doggie daycare; I think it's an awesome concept, and if a very large space is provided with a "reasonable" number of dogs- it's a beautiful thing.
There is a beautiful new facility in our city that was built directly across the street from my vet, their "playground" is right in front, lots of toys and agility equipment. The problem is, I have never seen the playground- which is about the size of an average city backyard- with anything less than 25-35 dogs! Now they do seperate the big dogs from the little ones, but I can't see how you can expect that many dogs to play together without some issues! There's usually two aides in the yard and I don't even know if they could break through the crowd of dogs to break up a fight!

One of the other 'Doggy day care" faciilities that I went to look at primarily uses an indoor concrete room for their playground, and that didn't really appeal to me, but they also had about 20 dogs at a time in the room. It just seems logical that if you expect to put that many pack animals in a small space together, you're going to have the occasional problem. I almost feel like you're setting the dogs up to fight over toys and space.

Sometimes, (most times) I think these day cares are being overly greedy by taking on too many dogs- but it's still a good alternative to crating a dog at home all day, I just wish they would limit the number of dogs at a time in the yard.
 

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Find a New Day Care

Let's think about this logically... what do dogs do before they bite? As their irritation escalates they will start growling and their body motions will be more erratic. The Doggie Day Care should be watching for these signs. If you threw 10 Perfectly obedience trained dogs together and let them play all day there are going to be incidents like this happen. They are dogs.

I don't personally aggree with "doggy day care" because you have no say in what other dogs your dog will be around all day. Also, the day care should be responsible for the vet bills, they were the ones who were obviously not being attentive.

Start watching him more carefully and if you see that he is aggressive and needs more obedience training then take that course. However, obedience training does little when no one is there to make him obey.
 

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I'm not a huge fan of the doggy daycares either. There's some haphazard centres here where they put all the dogs together and there's one person per ten dogs. I think one centre has different groups designed by activity level so they've got young, energetic dogs playing with the same type and older, more calm dogs together. Seems like a good concept, but I don't need my dog getting crazier by hanging out with crazy dogs.

Instead, I have an amazing dog walker who takes my guy out to a dog park twice a week in her well balanced "pack". She makes all her dogs walk respectfully behind her and the ones that have proven themselves reliable get to go off leash for 20 or so minutes out of the 60-90 min walk. He walks in a group of 8 - 22 dogs and there's never any fighting as each dog has to go through a process before joining the "big group".

Ranger is now calmer and more focused when we walk past other dogs since he's now used not being able to play anytime he meets other dogs. Maybe a different option than a day care would be a good dog walker?
 

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I agree with everyone who feel that you need to address the problem immediately. A dog that is growling at you, and/or visitors, when you give a command that it move from the couch needs a re-introduction to the religion of obedience, and you, the owner, need to find a trainer to serve as your capable "pastor." This is a golden retriever that you own. Unwarranted hostility is not a part of our breed's character--if Butter is growling because he's sick, with a thyroid condition, or in pain, or needs more obedience training--this has to be looked at--soon.

I applaud you for accepting responsibility for Butter's actions and paying the bill of the injured dog. True, and argument could be made that the day care center is liable (or partially liable) but to dwell on that is useless. Move on. Your goal now, IMHO, is to make sure this doesn't happen again. Who could afford it?
 
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