FERGIE – ITALIAN SPINONE
PROBLEM – SERIOUS AGGRESSION TOWARDS OWNER.
Please note that for reasons of client confidentiality, the above picture is a library picture and is not the actual dog. This is at the client’s request which is obviously of paramount importance.
Kelly contacted me following a second serious biting incident involving her 8 year old Spinone male. He had bitten her, causing serious injury about two years ago when she had been consoling another of her dogs who had been injured.
The latest incident occurred recently when she had swatted a wasp in the computer room at her home. Fergie had leapt out from under the desk and bitten her severely on the arm.
These incidents were not minor nips, but serious bites causing significant injury and the dog initially would not release her on either occasion, Kelly’s partner fortunately coming to her aid before even more serious injury had been caused.
Being bitten by a dog that means the world to us, is one of the most traumatic things that can happen to a dog-owner. For it to happen twice was a major blow to Kelly’s confidence and she had struggled with a major dilemma as to whether or not she should make that most difficult of decisions to end the life of a dearly loved pet.
Kelly had consulted a trainer after the first incident, who had advised her to put Fergie to sleep, as had her vet. One major factor in making Kelly decide not to take that course of action was the fact that Fergie had been through very painful joint problems for the last few years and she felt that this mitigated the incidents somewhat. This sort of behaviour is also highly unusual in this normally docile breed.
As a canine behaviourist, one has to be detached from the emotional aspects of the client and focus on whether or not the dog in question can be rehabilitated. Even in significant dominance cases involving biting, there are only 1-2% of cases which are beyond help. Kelly wanted to know if Fergie was beyond help or not and my view was that he was not.
On assessing Fergie, it was clear that this was quite a dominant male who showed respect to Kelly’s partner, but clearly felt that he was some way above Kelly in the pack structure of three dogs and two
humans in this household.
Fergie has also been in constant pain and discomfort for several years now, which whilst it is being managed, remains a factor. Kelly had to learn to show leadership to Fergie, so that the balance of power could be changed but not too rapidly, thereby reducing the risk of further incidents. Kelly’s loyalty and love for her dog is beyond question.
Whilst I could not guarantee to Kelly that Fergie would never repeat his aggression towards her, the methods she has been shown, should significantly reduce the chances of such an incident ever happening
Thankyou for coming all this way to see us Peter.
We were both very impressed with your professionalism and expertise, and believe me my partner is not easily impressed. He was quite cynical before you got here, but you really impressed him.
When Fergie first bit me, I was devastated that he could have done something like that to me, the
one person who loved him so much. When he did it again, I was angry and felt very let down.
I care so much for him, but knew that if I didn’t take positive action, the unthinkable would have to be done. I contacted you and although apprehensive about what you may have to say, was more concerned that Fergie at his age couldn’t be helped.
In the event, your assessment gave me insight to Fergie’s inappropriate behaviour/view of the world and gave me the direction and techniques to establish the correct place for him within the household/pack.
The methods/actions put in place have so far made a big difference to Fergie’s attitude towards myself. He is more responsive and happier, knowing his place and I feel I am in charge of the household. Thankyou so much for your help.” Kelly.