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2 year old rescue nipped at my face drew blood

She has been in 2 previous homes over her first 1.5 yrs. I rescued her from her last owner 6 months ago and we have been overcoming a few issues. Either brother or I are around her 24/7. She is very loyal and submissive towards us. When we speak to her in a stern way her ears go back immediately and her tail starts to wag anxiously. She is very smart and picking up when she does something wrong. When we first adopted her she was very very reactive to other dogs when going on walks. She lived in a home with a 10 month old bull terrier puppy and they did not get along. They would fight and she was not the center of attention for about 3 months until I adopted her. We used the pinning method on the extreme cases and over time she has calmed down quite a bite. She still gets excited and tried to lunge but she doesn't make noise, yelp or cause a scene like she used to. She is also stopped barking at random people. Stopped barking at most dogs that walk by when looking out the window.

From 1.5yrs to 2yrs old her personally has changed quite a bit. She has become a lot more aggressive and obsessive towards playing. Thats really all she thinks about 24/7 hours a day. Even when sleeping at any movement she will wake up in hopes I may be going to grab her rubber Kong bone. Tug of war is something we introduced to her for the first time and she has been obsessed ever since. We started putting her toys away and playing on a schedule but she sits around looking sad and bored waiting to play. She will sit and stare at the box we keep the toys in or the cabinet.

Tonight she was laying on my bed with her chin on my knee looking bored and I leaned over to give her kiss on the top of her nose like I have done hundreds of times and she quickly snapped at nipped my nose. I immediate put my finger on her neck and pinned her down then noticed blood dripping from the side of my nose. I pinned her for about 2 minutes and she stayed still and submissive as I tell her "NO" sternly. When I allowed her to get up she had her ears back, hunched over and walked out the room into the living room. My brother saw the blood on my nose and gave her a stern "NO!" and she immediate urinated on the floor our of anxiety and fear. We ignored her for the rest of the evening and she eventually came on my bed and went to sleep next.

I am not sure if I handled the situation properly. I know she needs to be introduced to a professional behavior trainer and I am working on getting someone. Please do not be so harsh on me about how I handled the situation as I am still learning. Any advice is appreciated.


  • edited March 2018
    From what you are describing, if anything you may have overreacted a little. But I would not say you have done anything wrong. A harsh correction to make it absolutely clear that she caused trouble by her behavior was ok. Yet, obviously the combined negative reaction of you and your brother has intimidated her to a point that she could not deal with any longer and she urinated. So, well, you've made your point and I am pretty sure that little missy will think twice in the future before lunging for your nose again.

    In general Bull Terriers are very mouthy and have a habit of jerking their heads up when they are happy. The resulting injury goes far beyond bite marks and reaches from bruises over loss of teeth to broken noses or jaws. While they are well trainable to control their bite (bite inhibition) many just like to use their mouth a lot during play even when they are older. And who can blame them - their mouth is their "hand". And if you think about how dogs play with each other: They grab each others lips and pull them, sometimes really hard. They can learn that playing with humans works a lot differently and that human skin breaks much easier than dog's skin.
    And even if they have learned that already at times they might get carried away. After all they are like toddlers, but with sharp teeth.
    The situation as you describe it sounds like an accident to me. Maybe she just wanted to kiss you back really good. I do not think that your dog intended to harm you.

    I would try to always keep those little weird habits in mind during close interaction with her.
    When narrowing her head with my face I'd always try to be prepared for the jerking head or a "toothful" kiss. If you really want to keep kissing her on her face, try getting used to putting your hand on her snout and holding her a little. That's what I do. This way you get the chance to buffer unexpected movement.
    If you feel that's not helping, just don't kiss her on the face, keep your face away and tell people to watch for their faces when interacting with her.
    I always warn people who want to pet her not to bend over her because she could jump up out of joy and hurt their face. She is not lunging up anymore, but ... you never know. Better be safe than sorry. It would just be SO embarrassing having to tell people in the ER that it was a Bull Terrier who broke that nose.

    If it only happened once I would try to not blow it out of proportion for now.
    If the biting occurs repeatedly, keeps causing injury and it feels intentional then obviously it should be addressed - by training rather than pinning, if you asked me because your dog seems to be pretty sensitive, cooperative and obedient. I don't see a need to overly intimidate her. She will be learning much better through positive experience. But that's just MY opinion.
  • Hi Djammy, thank you so much for the time to reply. She does playful nip at me when she gives me kisses and I am aware of the play nipping. This time it was more of an annoyance snap. She did not like that I was in her face and snapped quickly with a nip.

    You are right. After the situation and since I woke up I have been really bothered and sad at how I handled it. I am sad that she was intimimated to the point where she had to urinate. I must keep in mind her previous owners may have been rough with her when punishinhlg. I am rarely harsh with scolding her. The only time it has occured is when there is aggression or biting/snapping involved. We correct nipping and snapping right away with zero tolerance in fear she may snap at my family, friends or strangers. This is the worst she has done so far.

    She is happy and back to herself this morning. I will work on handling things in a more positive manner and hire a professional to help me. Thanks again for your input I really appreciate it.
  • edited March 2018
    Don't beat yourself up about your reaction - she is still alive. :) And your reply certainly sent a clear message. Trying to shake out bad habits, even maybe a little over the top, caused by a mix of surprise and the warranted fear of bite incidents, does not make you a bad person. Yet, quite the opposite.
    Maybe I would have reacted the same way, especially when you say that the injury did NOT feel like an accident but rather intentional. That makes a whole world of a difference.
    In that case a quick and firm correction was definitely the best you could do.
    After the thunderstorm that followed her action this might just remain a one-time-thing. Problem solved. :)
    Just stay very cautious in situations as the one you have described and be prepared because I bet it did not feel good to get injured in the face. Hope it's not too bad. If it happens again, there's something you'll need to work on.
    A rescued dog is often a "bag of surprises". I really have the highest respect for everyone giving a dog a second chance because it can be hard when you do not know much about the dog's background and former experience.
    You seem so engaged in eduction and making her a good canine citizen. I am sure you'll figure this out with the best results.
  • Thank you again.

    This weekend we took her to visit family and she is always naturally excited. When we took her out to a public street and started barking and lunging at a homeless holding a big garbage bag. She later did the same snap and nip (tried to) at a man's baggy black pants. She did that one time before the first month.

    Something else that is becoming more common is she will wake up from her sleep with sudden movements and attack. She will jump on my moving hand or laptop and then quickly snap out of it looking confused and regretful.

    I know she is full of anxiety but not sure why it seems to be trigger out of no where.
  • Also, we have not let her interact with other dogs since we adopted her because of how reactive she is.

    Something that triggers her anxiety is the fire alarm beeping. She will start trembling with her ears down.
  • edited March 2018
    Yeah, they are bulldozers with a heart of glass. Some things can easily scare them.

    About the snapping ... I wrote something about SOA next door.
    It's the comment that starts with "If it really were SOA, there are several different possible outcomes...."
    Maybe you want to take a look at it because some of the things you describe remind me of it.

    "Something else that is becoming more common is she will wake up from her sleep with sudden movements and attack. She will jump on my moving hand or laptop and then quickly snap out of it looking confused and regretful."

    I think it is a good idea that you are seeking professional help.
    Please, if you can just look for somebody who is experienced with Bull Terriers. This breed is easily misunderstood, even by some professionals who are not familiar with it.

    You got a piece of work here and need to find the right mix of consistency, firmness and concession in order to not break her. If she is mentally healthy you will get there. Your heart seems to be in the right place to do that. She sure seems a little reactive, as you describe her. But guess what, my girl is similar. Big mouth, soft heart. Quick to tell what she does not like, but also quick to retreat when she realizes she went over the top. She is five years now and we have never had any real problems so far.
    They do have temperament, but they ARE manageable. The more you love her and show that to her while still being as consistent and firm as you are the more manageable she will be.
  • She is mentally healthy. I am just bringing up the small problem's we are still trying to iron out. She is a very well behaved girl. Never digs in the trash, never chews on things that isn't hers, never makes a lot of noise, and is very aware of everything. I am going to find a professional to iron these things out. We know what we are in for and she has gotten so much better since day 1! Even my neighbor's are saying we have been doing a great job because they can see how much she is improving on her walks.

    Thanks again for the link I will read it over.
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