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Two Recent Aggression Incidents--Sign Of Getting Worse?


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Sorry for the length of this. This is the progression.

 

Last month while visiting my sister-in-law, Sheba nipped my 3-1/2-year-old great-niece above her eyebrow and across her nose. More like a deep scratch above the eyebrow and minor scratches on the nose, but it broke the skin nonetheless and of course scared the little girl. Yes, we were watching Sheba and my niece all the time, but this one slipped by us. We didn't see it happen, but I think my niece either tried to take a chew bone away from Sheba that she had given her earlier or she went up to Sheba when she was dozing on the dog bed and startled her. After that, Sheba was muzzled when in the house or put outside in the large dog pen. Fortunately, no stitches were required and my niece is fine.

 

I've had Sheba for almost 3 years now, and she will be five next January. She's always been a real spitfire; dislikes cats, squirrels, scateboards, and bicycles; and chases most running dogs at the offleash dog park, which can be a problem since she's been nipped twice requring costly vet visits.

 

Since she's an aggressive chaser, I go to the dog park when most other dogs aren't there. She enjoys chasing after a ball and simply enjoys racing around the park all on her own and then lounging in the wading pool. If there are other dogs there that could create a potential incident (some do, some don't), I leave.

 

The one thing Sheba's always enjoyed is being around other greyhounds, with no issues whatsoever. My friend has three greys, and we meet almost weekly at the offleash dog park. We love it when we're the only ones there! Her youngest grey (Causey, 7 years old) loves to chase Sheba when Sheba chases the ball, and this has gone on for 3 years with no incident, until now.

 

Yesterday, Sheba bit Causey in the muzzle. We didn't see it happen but figure they bumped into each other while running and a startled Sheba went on the offensive. Before my friend arrived, there had been two dogs there that kept stealing Sheba's ball. Although there were no altercations and the dogs left, perhaps Sheba thought Causey was going to steal her ball?

 

Causey is healing (no stitches required), and my friend says she seems unchanged by the incident, but her vet said now that Sheba thinks she's the Queen A Dog, the two shouldn't be at the park together or at the least Sheba should be muzzled when together. We want to continue our weekly visits if at all possible. What do you advise?

 

Since Sheba nipped my great-niece last month and now bit Causey yesterday, is this a sign that she is getting more aggressive and if so, what should I do about it?

 

Sheba is very friendly and typically good with people as well as young children, but now I'm worried.

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Sounds like a typical play accident. I wouldn't allow greyhound play in a wide open area like that without everyone being muzzled. It's too easy to get a skin tear or bite just from rough play, not necessarily any aggression involved.

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These incidents are totally unrelated and that vet knows nothing about greyhounds it seems :(

 

I'm surprised your taking her to run with other greyhounds without being muzzled. I will not let my two run with any other greyhound unless all dogs are muzzled. Other breeds are different. Greyhounds are bred to be very competitive and you can see that just by the growling bumping and body slamming while they run together. Those simple body slams can escalate really quick when that adrenalin is slowing through them. At that point they are not thinking but just reacting.

 

Little kids can be bratty towards dogs without even meaning to so you can't really fault her for that if the kid was in her space. You should be very thankful she seems to have good bit inhibition and only gave a warning scratch instead of ripping your niece a nice few holes.

 

I just re read and if you didn't see it happen how can you even be sure it was your pup that bit the other? I'm sure others will chime in but you just need to learn and move on. Don't worry about your pup she's being 100% normal!

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Jessica

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I believe the latest incident is just something that happens. One dog gets upset at another and it can happen any time even to the best two pups that live together. Dogs are dogs and that's their one way of them 'communicating'. I would suggest muzzling all Greys when running around. Their skin is just too delicate for any accident to turn into a major vet bill. Our Shelby sheared off a 1 inch chunk of skin running all by herself....how? By kicking her front leg with her back leg and her claw causing the problem! Nasty looking but not vet worthy but shows how delicate their skin is.

Kyle with Stewie ('Super C Ledoux, Super C Sampson x Sing It Blondie) and forever missing my three angels, Jack ('Roy Jack', Greys Flambeau x Miss Cobblepot) and Charlie ('CTR Midas Touch', Leo's Midas x Hallo Argentina) and Shelby ('Shari's Hooty', Flying Viper x Shari Carusi) running free across the bridge.

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IMO I don't see a problem. I have had many greys for many years-as many as 7 at one time running with my other dog(s)-and it is NORMAL in my experience for some greys that are particularly competitive to try and bite each other while running in play. It is why any greys that I allow to run and play are ALWAYS MUZZLED. And sometimes some of them are pretty good about biting the others even through the muzzle but then its a minor issue. I personally would never allow my greys(or fosters) to run and play without being muzzled. After play they get along wonderfully just like always-with their packmates and to them it is nothing "personal" about biting each other during the thrill of the chase so to speak. Even ones you think would NEVER attack another dog can sometimes do it. There are canine pack rules in thier DNA that control them and sometime even they don't know why they act like they do but they will behave like their DNA programs them too. I don't see the 2 incidents related. I would for sure always keep the hound muzzled around the kid-to protect the dog from being pushed into something neither wants. Also you should appreciate the fact that you now know you actually have a very SAFE dog because she has demonstated in the kid incident that even if she is pushed beyond her bite threshold she will exercise bite inhibiton and will likely do little harm. I would consider her a normal and very safe greyhound if she was mine. But I would definitely make sure that she and all dogs running with her are muzzled to prevent a possible escalation of an incident into a fight. (That vet doesn't have a clue about greyhounds IMO, I'd ignore him.)

Edited by racindog
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The first incident with your niece - the dog had a chewbone? oops not such a hot idea. Also, neither one of you know whether it was the bone or her dozing that was the problem and that seems to me that the niece and the dog were not being watched for a little while .. maybe not just a slip of a second or so. I know, it's hard to watch a dog and child all the time but, it is necessary if they are both free to do damage. Maybe invest in a portable wire kennel that you can put around the dog when you and your sister want to have some time without watching the "kids" constantly.

 

As to the running incident - use a muzzle on all the dogs. I have three greyhounds and a fenced in yard and they get muzzled if they are going out to run (or even pee). Otherwise, one (typically my female) can get rough and do some damage to the boys.

 

IMHO, the two incidents can be prevented from happening in the future and they do not necessarily indicate an aggressive dog.

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I agree with the others. My three boys are all muzzled any time they are outside because Max is an instigator and very quickly their fun romp turns into a competition and can spark a fight so better safe than sorry. Even muzzled something can happen because their skin is so think. Davis loves to get on his hind legs and box and accidentally caught Ranger in the throat and tore a 1" hole that had to be sutured and have a drain.

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Good advice and it makes me feel better. Thanks all.

 

With my great-niece incident, I was in the kitchen with a direct view into the living room where she and Sheba were. I turned my back for only a moment, but the living room is small, so it only took a moment for her to get off a rocking horse and walk over to Sheba (8-10 feet). Yes, it could have been much worse, and we're all thankful it wasn't. Lesson learned. (I neglected to mention that there also were four other dogs, three other older children, and two other adults scattered around the house--quite a zoo that day.)

 

I didn't see Sheba and Causey bump into each other yesterday, but I did see Sheba biting her on the mouth/nose because she was hanging on (or a tooth got caught). We'll muzzle the dogs next time, and if other dogs are there, we'll leave.

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These incidents are totally unrelated and that vet knows nothing about greyhounds it seems

 

I'd say this vet isn't very experienced in behavior, period. This isn't uncommon since behavior is a fairly new field and still isn't a core part of the curriculum in many vet schools. So vets who haven't taken the time to study learning theory and behavior are often no more knowledgeable than the average person and can have the same variety of opinions regarding dog training and behavior as the general public.

 

I take it "Queen A Dog" was the vet's words? I personally don't think alpha theory is relevant to canine interactions, but even if it is, a single bite doesn't make a dog the alpha, nor does that mean the dogs should never play together again. I do think that it's prudent to use muzzles and observe their interaction and body language closely since you don't know exactly what triggered the bite.

 

I don't think either of the two incidents you describe indicate that Sheba is aggressive at all. The majority of behavior that people consider to be aggression is actually normal canine communication - things like growling, snapping, and nipping. As others have mentioned, because of a greyhounds thin skin, any nipping - whether communication, play, or true aggression - can result in significant skin wounds.

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Guest PhillyPups

In reading yoru post, you state that you were watching your niece and Sheba all the time, yet did not see it happen, which is a bit contradictory. If Sheba thought her bone was being taken, she defended her property, can't blame the dog. Mine get high prized items with solitude (i.e. a turkey neck - outside alone; a bone - babygated in the kitchen) that way no accidental protecting of their item. Dogs nip when they play, watch a litter of puppies, the difference is greyhound skin is so thin, and they have such a lack of body fat sometimes the skin can tear rather than puncture. I muzzle mine when they are out in the yard together, I muzzle mine when left alone. If I am going to throw a ball I take mine out one at a time, alone. The key word being alone.

 

Sheba is just being a dog, doing normal dog behavior. As much as we call them (and treat them as) our babies, they think in dog and act in dog, they are dogs. The day we can understand their thinking totally is the day we learn to think in dog also, and I do not think humans are intelligent enough to do that. :P

 

Lessons learned, do not take eyes off child, if giving a high treat, do it in a room where no child can attempt to take it, constat vigilence is the lesson learned.

 

Disclaimer: I do not mean this to sound harsh, it is the style of my writing. Any offense taken by anyone is their choice, not the intent of the writer

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At our playgroup, all dogs are muzzled. Several love to play with tennis balls and most love to chase them, too. Either the tennis balls themselves or the dogs chasing them! Anyway, the avid tennis ball lovers have learned how to push the ball around with their muzzle and bite the tennis ball through the muzzle so they can carry it around. We do use balls that are more frayed and have more pieces that can be caught between a couple teeth.

 

I hope the new precautions work for you. Happy running, Sheba!

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