The 'Incident'

I got out of my Tahoe this morning, and let the dogs out of the back doors. They generally run to the clinic door and wait for either me to catch up and open it, or sometimes Chrissy will open it for them.

I walked around to the other side of the Tahoe and grabbed my stuff, and then headed for the door. Just as I got to the door, my dad pulls up...to surprise me. He gets out of his truck and we're laughing and joking about him showing up randomly. We were completely at ease, no tension at all.

The three dogs ran up excited to see him, as did I. As we got closer, my dad tripped over the curb and sort of...fell at me. He caught himself, but I'm sure to Tad...it looked like he was lunging at me to attack me or something. I get that...I understand.

My hands were full of my stuff, but Tad would not stop. He got firm commands, nothing was working. My dad was standing there, a few feet from me, and Tad would not give in. Finally, Chrissy comes running out of the clinic. She was grabbing his collar, which makes it worse, so I told her to let go of his collar and take my stuff. I felt bad for screaming at her, but now I'm in a rotten mode because Tad is trying to kill someone. She took my stuff and I pulled Tad from his chest back. He then lunged forward and bit onto my dad's knee...leaving wet marks on his pants.

My dad said that Tad did not break the skin, but is my dad just being nice? This is an absolutely unacceptable behavior for my dogs. I don't mind protection, but you will not act on it unless you are told to. I'm sorry, but that's the way I am. I refuse to allow my dogs to be biters, fear or otherwise.

We eventually got everyone into the clinic, and pretty soon...my dad and Tad were sharing scrubbies. My dad is not a scary man, he's a total softy. He was not wearing glasses or a hat or have anything in his hands.

Tad will not be left at home, that's my personal decision and it won't change. I won't 'avoid' this situation, he will be trained out of it. I'm sorry if I sound b*tchy, but...that's my choice. I don't harp on anyone for thinking that's the best choice, I really don't...but, it's not the way I want to handle this.

I have tried and tried to get trainer's to work with Tad, no one is contacting me back. All of Tad's money has been put on his account for his medical bills...there is nothing left for his day to day stuff, including training. Dr. Holliday and I are trying to decide just which route to take, puppy class? He knows basic obedience. Behaviorist? I'm not entirely sure. A behaviorist is going to cost me a lot, and I'm trying to work out how to get that kind of money together for him. There's not a money limit on my dogs, but...there's a limit on how fast I can get it together.

I've been talking, for the past 6 months with different people who have trained in the past, who have worked with trainers and such, and Tad has come an EXTREMELY long way. However, this behavior is one that I can't seem to break.

I am pretty relaxed with my dogs, but, they do not walk all over me. I am not overly strict either. However, we had a 'meeting' today, regarding Tad. His rules just got a lot stricter...because of this incident, I now lack the trust I had for him. He has bitten someone, my dad or not, it doesn't matter...a bite is bite regardless of the severity. It is unacceptable, and I will not have it. He will no longer be allowed anywhere off leash; this includes the 9,000 times he goes out here at the clinic to pee. He is no longer allowed to play with your hands, which he loves. He will be ignored if he continues to play bite. He is not allowed up front NO MATTER WHAT.

If he bites a client, he will be confined to a kennel here at work all day long every day. I don't want that for him, but that is my last resort.

There have been quite a few calls into the clinic this morning already. Tad is not going to be euthanized...that's ridiculous. Tad was not beaten to a pulp because he bit someone. Tad is perfectly fine, and is likely oblivious to how badly this bothers me. Tad is just as normal as he always has been, but he's not going to like his new rules until we can find a trainer who actually responds to being contacted and some estimates on costs and such.


  1. I don't understand. WHO called? How did they know anything about it?

  2. TAD! What were you THINKING? Not cool. Clean up your act. We know you can.

  3. (((hugs))) It would be so much easier if we could break the communication barrier completely down. You're in my thoughts; and anyone who doesn't believe that you have Tad's best interest at heart truly has not been paying attention.

    You must do what is right for you and for Tad and as with all parenting, everyone has an opinion on the "right" way, especially when they are on the outside looking in!

    Supportive thoughts and positive hopes for Tad!

  4. Tiffany, Tad is YOUR dog. Anyone who thinks they know what is best for him, behavior or life wise is out of their mind. You saved his life and now he is protecting yours. It was unwarranted and you have to do what you have to do to curb his behavior, especially after clear commands. I have faith in you that you are a fair enough person (as if you saving a dog near death wasn't proof enough) that you will do what is best for Tad to help curb his behavior. Don't worry what other people think. and anyone who is silly enough to think you'd Beat him or put him down for this sort of incident needs to think about the amazing woman that you are and have displayed for the world. This is YOUR life YOUR dog. Do what you need to do, they will either support you or not.. I, however, support you no matter what you decide is best for Tad. You're his mother, let your natural instincts lead you on this one.

  5. I am so sorry. I can tell you are stressed and upset and you have every right to be. It is, or should be obvious to everyone that you have done everything you can and will continue to do everything you can. I think your response is appropriate and necessary - its okay to be mad at Tad. Its okay to be scared for him. Its okay also to be seriously pissed off at anyone who calls or writes and gives you any crap for your decisions regarding Tad. You are his mom. He can certainly be a problem child, but you are doing a wonderful job.

  6. This may sound lame but here goes. He is taking care of you, your Dad fell and he reacted. The lady grabbed him and that really put him in protective mode. If this happens again try this, firmly direct him to sit. At home you can do it by giving him treats until none are needed. My boy dog was aggressive when younger to other males and I got him over it.I don't want anything to happen to you or him and it's worth a shot. Good Luck!

  7. I can't believe you still haven't gotten anyone to respond to you about training. That's ridiculous. How do these people expect to have a reputable business if they can't even respond to a potential client? Have you tried contacting Jim Burwell? http://www.petiquettedog.com

  8. All your new rules sound like good and hopefully effective ones. Yes, he did what he thought was protecting you, but this is an extreme behaviour and needs to be addressed immediately. As responsible dog owners it is our job to protect THEIR safety by making them into good, reliable doggy citizens. Good luck and I am confident it will all work out Tiffany!

  9. Thanks for this update! I totally understand Tad's reaction but you are right as well. I think I know your heart, Tiff, I know you love Tad and that you'll do what's best. You've got my support & prayers.

    - Doc

  10. I'm so sorry this happened Tiff! You have made the right decisions regarding restricting Tad's play with hands, keeping him on leash while at the clinic, and not letting him up front. I know you love Tad and with these decisions you are protecting him, just like he was trying to protect you. Believe me, I know how hard and frustrating it is to come up with money in time of need like this and trainers are soooo expensive. I swear, I wish I was a millionaire, I'd give you thousands in a heartbeat...but, I'm not, so all I can do is send my love and hugs to you and Tad. I hope you can get something worked out with a trainer.

  11. Although it's difficult, you first must remain calm. You're on the correct road, not allowing play biting and hands are only for scritches and love. You might want to only allow tug of war with one of the other dogs, not human/dog tug of war for a bit. Being a young guy, he is so full of energy and he's sensitive to emotions, responding to Carrie's well intentioned but over zealous interference. Keeping him on lead, when exiting a vehicle, leaving the house, etc is a definite safety step. However, if he is used to peeing freely, taking him out on lead, then allowing him loose in a restricted area is workable. BUT he has to go back on lead to return to the house, clinic, etc.
    Is there a space where you can place a bed, mat or something that would designate a spot and train him to stay? This would probably have to start at home, where you can spend time to make sure he goes to the area and stays, gets a treat but the minute he gets off without permission he is sent back there until he stays until you release him. What is Tad's "money"? I mean what does he respond to the absolute most. Treats, a particular toy? My golden, Morgan will do just about anything for a tennis ball.

  12. Have you contacted Best Friends (Utah Rescue Group) or Caesar Milan's group? Although you might not be able to get one of them to first hand train Him, they can give you some great tips. We had to rehabilitate a fighting dog and were days from putting her down because she would always just attack my parents other dogs without warning. They gave us some great tips and it has now been almost two years since she has bitten anyone. Hope this helps. But don't give up. We dont know all TAD has been through and those behaviors dont go away overnight (as you probably already know) My mom is a vet tech too....so I understand your passion and commitment. Follow your heart :)

  13. Hang in there, girl. Make no mistake, if Tad had wanted to do damage, he could have. And he didn't. And that's a good thing!

    I suggest more obedience, but it doesn't have to be in a class. What you want is for Tad to look at you before taking any action on his own. I had an intensity issue with one of my dogs and we just did doggy boot camp - lots of sits, downs and especially 'leave it' whenever she even thought about looking at another dog. We did this for six months. The day I knew it was working was when she started to give an intimidating stare at my other female dog and then chose first to look at me.

    Now we're through that phase and it isn't required at all, though I try to keep up with some reinforcing sessions.

    The NILF and additional structure will probably do a lot to help calm TAD as the experience outside the clinic was in some way traumatic for him, too.

    I admire your commitment to your boy, Momma Bear!

  14. How about Victoria Stilwell from "It's Me or the Dog?" What great exposure!

  15. I'm so sorry you and Tad have to go through this.
    I too have a dog with issues. I rescued a German Shepherd one year ago this week and she came with issues. She LOVES me and my husband, tolerates my Pekingese but has issues with other humans coming into our house.
    She seems to want to be with people and some she'll go up to and act great, but if you turn your back she'll nip. she's very unpredictable.
    I had a behaviorist out, it cost $250.00 for 2 hours and she told me things I already new and was a waste.
    She (Roxy) doesn't need obedience training, she is the best dog I've ever had in our house with the two of us.
    The vet put her on a prozac like med which seems to take the edge off, but it takes a lot of work.
    I researched and researched more. What I found was leerburg.com not for their obedience but more for their forums and advice. I purchased 4 of their dvds and am working on desensitization. Which means taking my girl to a public place but staying at the distance right before she gets set off and I sit and work on commands with her until I get her to do them all without looking at the dogs or people, then we move closer and closer etc etc. I do this around the neighborhood etc. I NEVER let anyone touch my dog, I don't force her into anything I'm always positive and I always have her at a distance from everyone.... we're not at a place to get close yet. When we have company or our grown kids come home, she is attached to me, or put upstairs. I muzzle her for a few minutes to show her who is in the house but I refuse to have it on her for long. Bottom line is that this is going to take a long time without knowing if it will ever work. My girl is nor ever will be off leash other than in our yard or house, lucky for her we're on an acre with 1/2 fenced.
    If you would like to see the dvds I'll be happy to try and figure out how to copy them and send them to you.
    Even though I know you won't, please don't listen to people who say put Tad down or use a shock collar, these things don't help for these issues.
    I hope your Father is ok, and I'm sorry you have to deal with this, I stinks but I get it. Scream if you need to. Laura@theprincessandthepup.com

  16. I don't have the background you have, so what was helpful to me you may already know. One of our dogs bit someone. We started with more training then went to a behaviorist. The behaviorist had us bring both our dogs so she could watch them interact. She helped us understand the behavior & modify OUR behavior so the biting would not happen again. It was successful for us (but also expensive).

  17. I highly recommend NILIF that Kathleen suggested. I use it every day for both of my rescues and it does work. The new rules you are making are not only for the safety of others but for the safety of Tad himself, he'll soon adjust to them. The main thing is not to let him know you have lost your trust of him and get it back asap. I went thru this with my dog when he bit me (my fault I stuck my hand in there), and it took a while but now I trust him completely and he rewards me by looking at me for what to do next.

  18. Tad does not need training, you do, as his handler. Tad is a great dog, and you are a wonderful person for saving him, but it is quite clear that Tad thinks he is the pack leader and until you start acting like the pack leader he will continue to protect you when he thinks you are in danger. He will not listen to you to stop because in his mind he is the pack leader.

    This does not mean you need to be mean to him, but you need to start being very strict. Make him sit and wait before going outside after you open the door. Make him sit and wait for his food after you pour it out. You need to establish, in a healthy, positive way, that you are the pack leader or he will continue to do this.

    Though I am big fan of NOT using your hands to play with dogs, that is not your problem here. He is quite aware he is not playing. It is about who is in charge.

    You would be well to change your attitude on this. YOU are the one that has some learning to do. You need to learn how to communicate with Tad properly. I don't say this to be dismissive or mean. I say this because if you internalize that this is YOUR problem, you will go much farther to fix this. Don't leave this up to a "behaviorist". Be determined to figure out how to be a good, strong pack leader. It will serve you well.

    Read books on this subject. Regardless of how you feel about him, watch Cesar Millan. He WILL show you how to correct this in Tad.

    You owe Tad to figure this out. Do whatever you need to. Good luck.

  19. If you give me the okay, I have a very very good reference; her name is Christine Dolan; she is a "trainer/good behavior teacher", anglophone. She helped me alot with my late KoublaĆ® Khan (he lived to his name i tell you) an adopted dog who had biting issues. Christine is very up-to-date, sensible & everything about her is integrity, I love her very much.
    You could get in contact with her, you have nothing to loose & everything to win...I guess.

  20. First a reminder... I am a certified trainer and behaviorist. I am not talking just from some books I read or one or 2 dogs I've worked with. I've taken courses, I've read dozens of books, and I've worked with hundreds of dogs. I've learned from them all.

    As silly as it sounds, a basic obedience class IS a good idea. Tad knows how to do behaviors but you need him to BEHAVE. There IS a difference. Going thru behaviors he knows but in a new location with other dogs and other people around will help him see that the rules apply no matter what.

    Like it or not, he did a GOOD thing. If it wasn't your Dad and you WERE in danger you would be showering him with praise. His mistake was an error in judgement. The fact that he didn't break the skin tells you he knew something wasn't right. This issue is a lot easier to help than an aggressive dog. And of course he should have listened when you told him to stop. But as you said you went into a "Rotten mood". Dogs won't respond to that well. Staying calm is best but a helluva lot easier said than done, I know.

    Look at the classes in your area, sit in and watch some. Find a trainer that doesn't have a "my way or the highway" type of attitude and is willing to find what works for each dog they work with. One that worked with Schutzund dogs is a good idea too. And as stated in a previous post... exposure! More new places and new people. Learning to sit for greeting. Learning to "Leave It". That one is a major life saver!

    And hey, take Dad to dinner or something! He's earned it! lol

  21. I'm not a behaviorist, and I don't have any formal training so feel free to ignore everything that follows but...here are my thoughts on this:

    It sounds to me like Tad had a instinctive reaction that he simply couldn't control. I know and understand and even agree with why this is unacceptable to you, but if you don't mind, I'd like to offer an alternative perspective on why he did what he did:

    Its possible that his original owner (the one who initially taught him how to sit and stay) never did anything to curb his protective instincts. On the contrary they may have unwittingly *encouraged* those instincts by giving him positive attention.

    You have done so much and Tad has come so far. This is just one bit of progress that he hasn't made. Its not so much a step backwards as it is a step he hasn't yet taken forwards. He hasn't yet gotten the hang of controlling his own instincts.

    He's not a bad dog, he just made a big mistake.

    Again, these are just my thoughts but you might consider finding out whether or not Tad broke your dad's skin. If he really didn't, then Tad wasn't really trying to kill your dad. Either he held himself back at the last moment or he wasn't trying to kill him in the first place. In which case you might consider cutting just a teeny tiny break.

    Otherwise, throw the book at him.

    Last but not least, please keep in mind that not having a behaviorist is as hard on him as it is on you. If one of the trainers you contacted had responded what happened today probably wouldn't have happened at all because he would have already known better than to lunge at your dad.

  22. I am curious does Tad ever get to be just a dog? Is Tad allowed to play or have fun ? And when you take Tad for a walk that s what you are suppose to be doing. How much fun is it if Tad nevers gets to smell all his sourndings. Never gets to stop and do normal dog thinks while walking. Because it sounds like poor Tad can't leave your side while you are walking him. How much fun do you think Tad is having? When u walk Tad let him be a dog and let him stop and smell the roses. All your rules with no play. Why even bother to have a dog. Dogs need to play and do normal dog things. You are on a power thing it sounds like to me. Little Tad needs some down time from all your rules. And we need down time from you never saying anything positive. It would nice to hear Tad played ball today or Tad ran and played in the park. You never use a crate for punishment. And if you are ever attacked......I hope Tad stands back and just watches. After all look at all.the punishment you put this poor dog through when he thought he was doing the right thing before. Let this poor little guy have some down time from ...you.

  23. Pammie. That is the stupidest thing I have ever read. Ever. I am now officially dumber for having read it.