Monday, April 4, 2011

I Got Got

This is not one of my typical "Maisie is so cute" posts.  This is unfortunately more of a "some days with Maisie are not good days" post.  As I've mentioned previously, Maisie is a dog with issues.  Though we've been through a lot of training together, a couple major problems persist.  First, she continues to go into full-on attack mode whenever anyone she doesn't know enters the office when she's at work with me.  And second, she is still terribly leash aggressive.  The latter is what led to a very bad situation this morning.

Maisie generally comes to work with me for the entire day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  I take her for a walk before I get in the shower, then a second quick one right before we get in the car.  While on that second walk this morning, we encountered another dog who also appeared to have leash aggression.  He/she immediately began barking and lunging at Maisie, which made Maisie's aggression even worse than usual.  As I pulled her in the opposite direction of the other dog, I must have placed my arm in front of her face and the fact that she was insanely snapping at the enemy dog somehow resulted in her biting me.  HARD.  Even though she bit through my jacket, she still managed to break skin and cause a near-instant bruise.

I yelped in pain (and shock, really), but Maisie was too out of control and focused on what she perceived as the threat at hand to notice.  Within seconds, the other dog was gone and Maisie was back to her normal, mostly obedient self.  I put her in a "sit" and sat myself down on a stoop as I tried to process what had just occurred.

Because under normal circumstances Maisie is my little shadow and snuggle bug, I sometimes forget that she is above all, an animal...a creature who acts primarily on instinct.  That instinct can be somewhat amusing when she sees a squirrel or a bird she's convinced she can catch, but I also need to remember that at any moment, without warning, her instincts can turn dangerous.  And that's not a pit bull thing (though I'm sure many people would view it as such), it's a dog thing.

Within five minutes after arriving at the office, Maisie was relaxing in her bed as if nothing had happened.  In her mind, I'm sure that was the case.

I know Maisie did not mean to bite me.  I know she trusts and loves me and would never hurt me intentionally.  But I'll have a reminder for at least the next few days that I can never, ever let my guard down with her when other dogs are present.  Lesson learned.

9 comments:

A Couple of Misfits said...

Ouch! Those are never fun, especially when the bite comes from your own dog. Skye's first day home as my foster dog, she went nuts over a toy and tried to grab my pants in her frenzy. She ripped the jeans and left an awful bruise, and I learned how easily she could go from playing but in control and playing without any control.

I'd invest in a Halti or Gentle Leader, if you don't have one already. It gives you a fall back plan if she is beyond reason, and you need to control her mouth. Dogs that redirect aggression to whatever is closest aren't doing it on purpose, but they also aren't going to go easy on whatever it is they do snap at. Keep working with her though- she'll have a break through eventually! I'd also recommend Patricia McConnell's book "Feisty Fidos" as a quick and very helpful read. Good luck!

Maisie's Mom said...

I used to walk M with a halter but she pulled so hard that she actually wore off all her fur underneath the straps. I walk her on a prong collar now. I actually have that book at home, what a coincidence. I guess I am a bit conflicted by it though.

Last summer, we took a "Pit Bulls Only" training class with Jeff Jenkins (lead trainer of the HSUS's End Dogfighting Campaign). He told me I basically need to yank the hell out of her whenever she acts like that. It's very contrary to my nature, but that's the approach I have been trying. It worked when he did it, but my guess is that she doesn't see me as a strong enough leader because it makes little difference with me...other than kinda breaking my heart when SHE yelps if I pull hard on the prong. It's a dilemma and it stresses me out big time. :(

Maisie's Mom said...

I think I will try the Halti though...

In Black and White said...

Oh I do feel for you! So sorry that happened.
I KNOW that Billy can meet dogs well on a walk but we go through these huge patches where his behavior is just appalling and I start to give in and cross the street whenever I see a dog in the distance. He's so strong that it's exhausting when he starts to hurl himself at other dogs - I have a harness which works pretty well but had to stop using a halti because it rubbed his nose too much.
Keep working at it, you'll get there in the end!

Maisie's Mom said...

oh, I hope that doesn't happen to Maisie's nose if I use a Halti on her. she pulls SO hard!

h(eather) said...

I'm sorry that happened. As someone who has been bitten by their dog more times than I can count, I can certainly empathize. It used to effect me pretty strongly, but after a while I would give myself a few minutes to shake it off, then return to the situation/dog and start recognizing my shortcomings in terms of training. It's a good reminder to be consistent and proactive.

Good luck with your sweet girl.

Maisie's Mom said...

I appreciate the support, Heather. we dysfunctional dog owners have gotta stick together!

Aleksandra said...

yikes. the one good thing about this story is that it is totally apparent that this was not human-aggression, and not even aggression that was accidentally redirected at you. it was directed at the other dog the whole time, it's just that your arm got in the way. still, something to take seriously, but it doesn't seem like it will affect your relationship...

Maisie's Mom said...

I do take it seriously, but am still searching for the approach that will "cure" her leash aggression. on the positive side, she is dog-friendly and able to play happily with others at daycare and the dog park when off leash. since my dog walker says Maisie does not display leash aggression when he is with her, it's obviously a protective instinct that only comes out when she is with me.