A mother sought help after her seven-year-old dachshund started biting her and her husband, and she fears what the dog could do to her young children.
The woman, from Victoria, said her dachshund, Pablo, bit her husband so badly in the face that he required five stitches after never displaying the behavior in the years the family owned him .
She wants to repatriate the dog because she fears that Pablo will hurt her four or nine month old child, but her husband refuses.
Desperate to find a solution, the mother spoke to an animal behaviorist as well as a veterinarian who even raised the possibility of euthanizing the dog due to its sudden problematic biting.
Sydney veterinarian Dr Tim Montgomery told FEMAIL a number of factors could be at play, but he recommended the concerned mother try to understand why the dog might suddenly have the urge to bite.
An Australian mother fears her dog Pablo could harm her young children after he began biting her and her husband after seven years.
“We have had a dachshund for almost seven years, he recently bit. First, it was me who approached him on the bed with my husband (who seems to be the dog’s “chosen one”), she wrote on Facebook. job.
“Second, it was my husband’s face after he was picked up coming out of the laundry and brought back inside. He started growling at my husband and my husband put his hand over his mouth.”
She said the dog “lunged” at her husband’s face when he pulled his hand away and had to be admitted to hospital and given five stitches.
Dr. Tim said he doesn’t recommend covering a dog’s face or even punishing them if they growl.
“Even though dogs don’t know how to use words, they talk to us all the time. Educating families about dog body language is essential to properly handling these situations,” he said.
“Many people think they should punish growling because it’s ‘bad’ behavior, but a dog has only limited ways of telling us he needs space and a growling is one of them.”
“Contrary to popular belief, we should reward a growl by giving the dog what he wants – and that’s usually space.”
The woman said her dachshund bit her husband so badly in the face that he required five stitches after never displaying the behavior in the years the family owned him.
The mother expressed concern for the safety of her young son and her baby who is about to start crawling.
“I want him gone, to be rehomed (we have him on Dachshund Rescue Australia for private sale) but I am strangely shut down by my husband who has a very strong bond with him,” she said .
“I worry every day for the safety of my children, I am told that I am exaggerating.”
Dr. Tim, who works with many families whose pets have difficult behavior problems, said he sympathized with the mother’s concerns, but could not determine the root of the change without knowing more details. .
“I completely understand why she would be worried. It may be important to avoid bites between dogs and children,” he said.
“I generally don’t see it as my place to tell families how much risk they should take, that’s ultimately a personal decision, but I always try to work with them to identify the risk as well as strategies to mitigate it.”
The 33-year-old said there could be some underlying conditions that could make the dog uncomfortable or anxious.
“In a seven-year-old dog with no family history of biting, the list of possible explanations is quite long,” he said.
“Many pet parents may be surprised to learn that these behaviors are rooted in a source of pain, including arthritis or dental pain, as well as a long-standing anxiety disorder.”
The dog’s owner took Pablo to his veterinarian, who said the dog was perfectly healthy and even mentioned euthanasia as an option if the behavior persists, but the mother was hesitant to take such drastic measures.
“In case she has already visited the vet, my usual next step would be a full blood test followed by a long discussion to find out the dog’s past and any warning signs of anxious or fearful behavior,” she said. said Dr. Tim.
“Depending on the prognosis – the likelihood that the unwanted behavior will be managed – there may be a combination of medications and environmental and behavioral strategies that could improve the dog’s situation and manage the risk to humans.”
Pablo’s owners also spoke to a behaviorist who told them that “the dog must feel bad and (they) need to make sure he feels good.”
The parents tried to find a way to separate the dog from their children by keeping him in the laundry room with their other dog, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and in a “big warm bed.”
However, the four-year-old has a habit of “opening doors all day” and letting Pablo run wild.
“We have no other suitable space for dogs and we cannot fence them in without being cruel. We have a huge garden and the dog is very active during the day,” the mother said.
“(The behaviorist) also said to keep the dog out of bed, my husband did not (comply) with that. I just say “Pablo” from a distance, in a kind voice, and he instantly groans from the bed.
Dr Tim encouraged owners to look at what might be causing the bite and the pet’s “emotional state” rather than just the problem behavior.
“Put yourself in the dog’s paws: how must he feel to react with these behaviors? That feeling is the problem, the behavior is simply the strategy this dog adopted to deal with that feeling,” he explained.
“I agree that focusing on sensations is the right place to start – a behavior like biting is a last resort for most dogs when they are feeling very worried, vulnerable or uncomfortable.”
He added that euthanasia might be an option for some, but would only recommend it as a “last resort.”
“It’s generally not something I discuss immediately except when there is a high risk that cannot be managed otherwise,” he said.