last chance

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!


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Barked: Tue Nov 13, '12 4:50am PST 
our rescue border collie has bitten my partner 3 times always when he was closely handling him. The problem is he is very fearful and hates certain close handling.He never growls just bites.At the time my partner didnt distract him with a treat which is what I do he just dried his paws.

He snaps and shows teeth at me and our daughter from time to time when we try to remove a tick or tighten his collar.This is very short lived and we can distract him easily .Other wise he shows no signs of aggression and is very good with other dogs and people on walks.He is calm and good in the car and home unless he hears guns or fireworks which he hates.

Our dog trainer thinks he is dangerous now and he may have to be put to sleep,we could try medication and training with him wearing a muzzle but she thinks the failure rate will be high.

He gets lots of exercise but doesn't go to classes as he found them too overwhelming.

My daughter and I love him and can't stand the thought of him being put to sleep.

Has any one managed to get over this type of snappy panic biting and if so how?

He has been with us 8 months and is 3 years.

we will dance in- the ring without- words
Barked: Tue Nov 13, '12 5:50am PST 
First thing would be have a complete vet check done, including a CBC, a SNAP and a thyroid test.

Then find a good behaviorist.

I lived what you are living (except Asher was not fearful, he had simply learned that biting makes bad things go away). And Asher's bites were HARD.

I lucked into a wonderful behavior consultant. She changed my life.

you need professional help with this issue. Beyond a trainer, you need someone who is equipped to deal with it.

Please check the IAABC website:


Seriously interview whoever you contact. Get references. If possible, work with your vet or a vet behaviorist.

Behavior like this CAN be changed, but I am not going to lie, there is commitment and work involved. If done properly, it is fun work, for you and the dog, but it is work. Evaluate and decide if you can commit to the process, then find help.

Barked: Tue Nov 13, '12 6:34am PST 
Asher offered very good advice. Good steps to follow. I just wanted to offer you encouragement, as your dog has only bitten in certain specific situations which you enumerated, and does not seem generally aggressive.

As soon as he shows teeth, before he air snaps, back off. You want to approach him so that he does not show teeth, so always use a treat for him, to show him that handling is a good thing. Many dogs HATE having their feet handled, this is often something that has to be built up to. If your partner cannot remember this, then you must be the only one to handle your dog.

For example, Rolo did not like to be leashed up by my bf. He retreated into the back of his crate -- when bf reached, Rolo snarled, snapped and nipped him lightly (no blood, no bruise). No problem if I leashed him up, and he is used to collar grabs from me. (A lot of dogs hate collar grabs if not conditioned to them.) So now bf always trades a treat for a leash-up.

Rolo also bit 2 men (not badly, through clothes) -- friends -- who barreled in the door, when he first came to my house. Now everyone walks calmly and slowly into the house when Rolo is out and allows him to approach them on his own time. Much better!

So even though your dog has bitten, all is not lost. Handling feet and collar grabbing are two of the most annoying or invasive things you can do to a dog. So take heart. hug

Member Since
Barked: Tue Nov 13, '12 8:27am PST 
Thanks we have been so upset and just feel downhearted because I personally feel that I trust this dog and he only bit because he hated what was being done to him.He can just about tolerate it if I do it but as you say collar grabs and clipping on the lead are also flashpoints.

I do have a behaviourist who advocates muzzle training then getting him handled to the point where he would bite but cant because of the muzzle.We have been warned this is a difficult process! Our main problem would be getting the muzzle onto him but I know it can be done.
Shiver Me- Timbers- "Charlie"

My Little Dog, a- heartbeat at my- feet.<3
Barked: Tue Nov 13, '12 8:35am PST 
I do have a behaviourist who advocates muzzle training then getting him handled to the point where he would bite but cant because of the muzzle. This scares me. This would TERRIFY the dog further and you'd lose what trust you're trying to gain. Please run the other way. This is NOT a good behaviorist. A good behaviorist will try to change the behavior through POSITIVE reinforcement. Not by force.

This dog sounds insecure and mistrusting of people. What you need to do is teach him that GOOD things happen when any of you are near him at all, nevermind touching him. He gets treats or high value rewards for any calm behavior, especially if you guys are within his comfort zone until you can find a good behaviorist. Asher might have some good ideas of people near you that you can access.

You may feel downhearted, but I had a foster who was quite aggressive in his fear and insecurity too. Put on a harness? You'd get bit. Go near his food? He'd bite. Try to get him off furniture? He'd bite again. Try to put him in his crate? Once again, you'd get bit. It took A LOT of time, effort and positive reinforcement so that he began associating me with positive things in order to gain his trust.

I worked on building trust FIRST, before I worked on any behavior training, and it was because I gained that trust, that he was comfortable enough for me to move forward with proper training.
Dr. Watson

Not a wiener- dawg!
Barked: Tue Nov 13, '12 9:08am PST 
Just curious, is your behaviorist a master's degree behaviorist or a veterinarian with a specialty in behavior? These are true behaviorists. Anyone can call themself a "behavior consultant" or suchlike -- you must be careful.

As Charlie said, the advice about the muzzling sounds very off-key. For one thing, that is not even how you introduce a muzzle to a dog.
Shiver Me- Timbers- "Charlie"

My Little Dog, a- heartbeat at my- feet.<3
Barked: Tue Nov 13, '12 9:48am PST 
A great way to muzzle train would be something such as the Kuzzle. Essentially, you fill a basket muzzle(best for training and working on behavior, as they can still pant, drink water, get rewarded, etc) with treats, soft food or something else delicious and the dog has to stick their nose in it to get the reward. In doing this, they associate the muzzle with treats and this should also be an easy way to start muzzle training her to accept your hands with it too, just be careful.

we will dance in- the ring without- words
Barked: Tue Nov 13, '12 11:17am PST 
I disagree strongly with your behaviorist. A muzzle should only be used as management, not for behavioral work (or as management during behavioral work).

There is simply no reason to provoke a response from your dog in order to change behavior.

What does you behaviorist suggest you do after you HAVE provoked this response?

Remember, every time a dog gets a chance to rehearse an undesirable behavior, you increase the odds of the dog repeating that behavior.

Instead, I would suggest using the muzzle for safety and working way below the bite threshold to change the dogs emotional response to the aversive stimuli (having paws touched, collars grabbed etc).

You would have to start much smaller, maybe teach your dog to GIVE you a paw rather than you taking it, doing a reach/click/treat for the collar issue and building by bumping the threshold.

Ash used to bite when someone grabbed his collar/put their hands or face near his/touched his back/touched his tail/touched his belly when he was on his back. I did a lot of counter conditioning and desensitization work. Through that work, he came to enjoy and even in some cases learn new behaviors to receive the very touches that would trigger bites before the work. That was because I changed the emotional response to those touches and made them wonderful things.

I would suggest finding a different behaviorist and screening a bit more carefully.

Let's play tug!!
Barked: Tue Nov 13, '12 11:28am PST 
I agree with everyone who told you to run screaming from that "behaviorist." That's a great way to make things much, much worse. A good behaviorist will use things like Desensitizing/counterconditioning, will involve slowly working up to the kind of touches your dog doesn't like. One day, you might extend your right hand 6 inches toward him, give him a treat with your left hand, then withdraw your right hand. You might do that 20 times the first day. The next day, you might extend your hand twice as far, and do that 20 times. You'll take baby steps toward being able to handle his collar, etc, and you'll form lots of positive associations along the way.

Member Since
Barked: Tue Nov 13, '12 11:47am PST 
I'm so heartened! Thanks.

He loves me stroking his tummy and I always tickle him under his legs and stroke his paws while he lays on his back which he loves! So wierd how in a relaxed playful state he can love something but when he is tense he hates it.

Another thing I thought is that when my partner takes him out in the afternoon he is always very hungry and he knows that once he has been dried off he'll get his supper so that makes him more impatient. Hence more snappy.