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Yuka bit my girlfriend
  • BasBas
    Posts: 17
    His story is a bit complicated, we took him in six weeks ago because he bit his previous owner, I told all about that in my introduction: Also that he snapped at me twice, without touching me, but in self defense.

    He lives with my girlfriend, as I have two cats, who basically distrust dogs very much.
    He was never aggressive towards us or other dogs.

    Last evening, my girlfriend went to bed, and brushed her teeth, and he was chilling on the bathroom floor, he likes it there.
    Then, when she was done, she said: 'are you going to your sleeping room now soon too?' and tried to pet him as a little sweet baby boy. He bit her in the hand. She went like: 'what are you doing now? that hurts like hell!' he barks, she goes downstairs to treat her wound. She has delicate skin, she bruises very easy, the skin breaks very easy, but he had broken her skin. She was very mad. She ignored him. When she went upstairs he was in his own little room in his basket, she closed the bathroom door: no more bathroom floor privileges.

    He was very timid. He stayed in his room. When I came in the morning, we went upstairs and sat in his room. Not in any way aggressive, she acted as her paw was very hurt (it was!) and I acted like 'licking' her wounds with my hands. He understood the problem very well. I told him: 'what did I hear? You bite my girlfriend! you should be very ashamed...' in an explanatory tone, not aggressive, but disappointed. He was very ashamed and timid.

    We then went downstairs and ignored him for hours. He then came down very carefully, because he needed a walk. He apologized to my girlfriend, licking her hand, she just ignored him some more. After a while we said: 'are we going for walk?' He did the 'get me' game. When my girlfriend put his leach on, he expected to be punished. He very well knew he did very wrong.

    He tried to be a very very very good boy while walking. Normally he likes to wander of, but now he was right at our foot. Once at home we did some tricks and treats, he knows a few new 'walk around and under legs' tricks she has thought him just a few days ago, that she is very proud of him doing for her. She treated him and petted him happy as ever.

    I think he thought she was trying to move him out of the bathroom by force. He understands human language, but only up to a certain degree. I think he misunderstood her, and interpreted her as saying: 'ok, you have to go to your sleeping room now', with her hand going down to grab him (and he does not like being pushed!), also he could not understand why: he was not lying in the way, was a good boy: why, why would she send him to his room? and use her hand to force him? No way! She is attacking???? defend!

    So, I think, it was a case of misunderstanding. Also, the bathroom is a place with a high aggression past. Her son, in the first couple of days, when he met the dog in the bathroom and not wanting to move when he wanted to use the toilet and such, he would be angry and shout, that does not work well at all: we talked to him about that and he switched to 'sign language' and body-language and soft voice explanations. Works very well, they now love each-other to bits. But the aggressive first encounters could have linked bathroom-to-aggression in some subtle way. Also: he could not flee (as in ignore, flight, fight), as he was 'backed up' inside the bathroom, the only way out was blocked: by my girlfriend, who was (in his eyes I think) trying to 'attack' him, grab him, push him around. That he was not really aggressive, but cornered.

    Once my girlfriend understood why he might have bit her, she was ok to let go. But she still is very emotional about it, it actually hurts like hell she said. And: she does not want this to happen like ever again. She fears: 'once it happens, it will happen twice'. It is hard for her to be open and fearless and full of love now. I also understand. She wants to keep him, she says. After the incident she had already some fun time with him. He gained a very tiny bit of trust back.

    The dog was anxiously timid for hours: he has been replaced after such incidents before. Dogs get put down for these kind of actions. And he knows. He was expecting all kinds of mayhem, and insecurity about his future. We were able to get him out of this. But it cost us a lot of energy. We (my girlfriend mostly) are now a bit emotionally exhausted. His punishment would be not to have bathroom floor privileges until at least her wounds healed.

    Perhaps this was just a bad day, lets sleep and see what next day will bring, and I was just going to my place, and my girlfriend has some alcohol, and she says: 'its... I just dont know If I like it anymore, if I want this stress..'

    And face it: he made a real mess. But if my girlfriend cannot really trust and enjoy him anymore, and basically wants him out, he will feel that (and a negative downwards spiral will occur). But if she can enjoy him and build up trust again, it will take like 3 times 6 weeks to get to the point of trust... he had two days ago.. it will be a slow process. And: if he bites her again within this period (or ever), I know she will just not put up with it anymore, and hate him and want him out.

    So I am biting my knuckles that it will go all right. It was pretty ok today. She had some good fun times with him. I like to focus and bring energy to happy things.

    Just in case, I made some kind of an emergency plan: He can always live downstairs in my inhouse garage. I even have figured out a plan with my cats: first, I let Yuka in the garage and exchange smells, but with doors closed. Then, I open the garage into my house, but with a dog-door-with-cat-flap I found. I he barks: I close the real door. If he is cool: I keep the door open, so he can look inside the house (and see the cats). The cats can walk up and sniffs can be exchanged, and work from there.

    Final goal would be my two cats and Yuka living together in harmony, but if that is unfeasible, I would settle with him living in part of my house, away from my cats. Which would be sad, but better as being put down. He sleeps when he is inside mostly anyway. We could try the garage out as a 'sleepoverparty' thing. It will be stressful for both cats and dog.

    Third option would be some other adoption-address (I dont see this happening with his trackrecord of biting owners)
    And last option, would be... to put him down. I dont want to come to that last option. I know the previous owner will tell her: 'you see! now he bit you too! put him down! he is a risk!'.... Bad energy...

    Just hope my girlfriend and Yuka will be all-right. They were so close just a day before.

    Any advice is welcome.
    Post edited by Bas at 2016-02-08 20:45:38
  • HazelHazel
    Posts: 28
    I'm really sorry this happened. It sounds like a scary and sad situation for all of you, including Yuka.

    Did you ask your girlfriend how she approached him? Shibas are particularly aware of body language and dislike being approached from directly above. They look at it as a threat. Most will not react, but a dog with Yuka's complex history is more likely to be defensive and cautious. You can tell your girlfriend to keep treats with her. She should let him sniff her hand, then reward with a treat. Scratch UNDER his chin if he will allow, then give him a treat.

    I would also say that ignoring him for long periods as you described is not effective. Positive reinforcement when he behaves well is better. It sounds like Yuka needs a lot of patience and structure and he will improve by leaps and bounds. Start building training into your routine with him and keep your girlfriend involved in training him. That wil build mutual respect. Have him sit before meals, sit before you take him out, and slowly work up to other commands. Work on crate training for SHORT periods of time, and again make it a positive thing. He should have to work for everything!

    Usually animals will give a variety of body language signals before they bite. You may want to work with a animal behaviorist so you and your girlfriends can read the signs and take precautions.

    Ultimately though, your girlfriend has to meet Yuka halfway. If she is really determined to kick him out after the bite, you have limited options. Based on what I've read, I think Yuka can be rehabilitated in the right environment. You should contact some Shiba rescues. Even if they re not in your country, they may be able to point you in the right direction or find someone able to help. You can also check if local rescues and shelters have any advice or resources. I sincerely hope and pray that you do not have to euthanize him.
  • Post edited by Nikkitine at 2016-02-09 00:55:08
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1269
    I was going to post in your introduction thread but never got around to it. But some of the things you wrote made me a bit worried, like how you put the leash on. That can easily turn nasty too.
    Like @Hazel wrote, you have a dog that has not fully gotten to know you yet, who has a history of neglect/abuse and is a shiba. It is really important you take it slow and show him he can trust the two of you. Obviously he doesn't yet.
    A shiba is very conscious of body language, walking straight towards him, leaning over him, staring him in the eyes can all be interpreted as aggressive behaviour. They are also very sensitive with their bodies. If you want to move him from one spot, never use your hands to push but trick him with some tasty treats.
    Shibas can not be forced to do things, they will have to want to do it. So stock up on lots of treats and praise him for everything he does right and ignore the wrongs.

    In another thread you were talking about teaching him how to go on the scales, check out target practise online, it may be useful in other situations too. You can teach him to step on a little postit note, this way it can be a fun game to go to the place you want him in.
    You can use a clicker or any sound you want followed by treats to show him gradually what you want from him too, do everything in baby steps to make him comfortable.

    Living with a shiba has nothing to do with being the boss and ordering him to do things because you say so, but more like being a parent that your shiba loves and enjoys being with because you are fun, playful, friendly and trustworthy.

    I hope you also realize that the keeping him in the garage is not an option and that you'd rather give him up for adoption if your girlfriend decides she won't live with him.
  • BasBas
    Posts: 17
    Yes, the theorie I read here about the alpha-male-rank by 'most aggressive being at the top' is not correct at all, and that it is rather a family-structure. This, to me, makes much more sense.

    We do believe in positive reinforcement strongly.

    I only complain about something to my animals in real time. When I find 'a situation' after I was away, I tell them what is wrong about it, but more in a neutral, like a news-reporter tone, stating the obvious. Then: I dont hold a grudge or anything, but let it go.

    I hope my girlfriend can. She is also very sensitive. She did not like it when I told her it was her fault, for a part, at least. It is hard for her to actually let te anger go. She was pretty pissed when I found her the morning after, and stayed pissed until he licked her hand and went for a walk. Yes, Yuka felt it. And bad energy turns into more bad energy. I explained to her. She knows. But I cannot command my girlfriend to 'not feel angry' when se just is.

    I did my best to also comfort and calm my girlfriend down. She is like a wolf to sometimes. Rationally she understands why it happened, I think (that Yuka felt cornered and unfairly treated and pushed, attacked even). That he misread HER words and bodylanguage, and that she should not treat him like a cuddly little boy. She agreed on a rational level, but reacted a bit angry at me: 'so, now its MY fault that he bit me?' well.. perhaps yes?

    She has forgiven him: they had a couple of fun play sessions and running outside, they did build up the relation pretty good yesterday. But she has some nagging doubts deep inside: that he will do it again. I have to make HER confident as well. Make her realize what went wrong, and how to prevent it. By treating him as an adult human being, not a cuddly little boy. Leave him alone when he is chilling. 'how would you like it when you come home after a long walk, finally get your feet up, and someone starts pushing you'. Talk clear human language to him.

    He really interpreted her words wrong, there is where this whole mishap started. It is an emotional strain for my girlfriend. She has to get confident he will not bite her at all, unless really provoked, and that for him to never ever bite her again, she would simply have to not trigger it.

    It is just that it all happened so fast. Also, for the dog. That is why he escalated to 'snap with teeth', while he also has his 'snap in air', his showing teeth, his bark, grinning, and his body language. He felt he had to go for the most fierce defense there was: because it went too fast for him as well. One second my girlfriend was brushing her teeth like normal, the next second she tells him to go to his room and tries to 'push him' by sticking her hand out: he had to do something fierce at once: no time to negotiate so to say.

    She on the other hand had no time to read his bodylanguage. Well, she had some time, but it was way to short, her hand only moved 10 cm. She had to be super-alert to notice and react in time, and she was very sleepy herself at that point.


    She wanted a few hours alone with him this morning, to take him for a long walk and do games and tricks and treats with him, to build trust.

    My girlfriends house is his best bet by far.
    An adopter that is really experienced would be a second option (he would not like moving again, but if it is to a very good final destination, it would be ok). Only when my girlfriend grows to hate him though. And I really doubt if I can find one.

    The garage would be an emergency solution. His introduction space into my house. The cats + dog issue is very frustrating. If that goes not well at all, his space will be tiny (only the garage), we could 'hang out' at my girlfriends place often, but that is not a very good situation at all. If it goes well between him and the cats he can roam the house and garden, things would be ok (slight chance, sigh...).

    Not ideal at all, agreed, not the chilled, open, humanized, controlled environment he actually needs. but still much better as euthanasia.

    My hopes are on my girlfriend. I have to build her confidence on why he bit her and how she can totally prevent it. Without getting too pushy about it :)

    I will contact the local asylum behavioral expert, and shiba rescue organisation in the usa to see what they have to say.

    Happy thoughts! Happy thoughts! He is such a lovely boy! So pretty, so smart, so alert.
    We love him. And he loves us. He is so much part of our happy family already. I cant wait to ride bike with him and my girlfriend later today. Her son gets the local weekly news today, we help him out distributing the outer parts, in the woods. Yuka likes it to walk those routes with us. He loves us. We love him. I am confident we will work it out just fine.

  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
  • BasBas
    Posts: 17
    Good point about the anthropomorphising. I did.

    We ignored him during the night (he was sleeping anyway) and in the morning, we just waited a couple of hours for him to climb out of his room by himself. He did. I just said hi like I normal do, and he went to sniff and lick my girlfriend. She was still a bit angry and ignored him for like a minute or two. Then we just went for a normal walk, like we always do. That was yesterday, just after the incident. Today she was all calm and relaxed and happy and loving to him. He just did his routines like nothing happened.

    We dont actively ignore him. We do let him sleep in his room, and leave him alone when he does.

    "The bites are most likely out of fear and anxiety and not aggression." (nods)

    My girlfriend is key. Today she is not angry at all at him, and they walk and play just like before. I think she understands that she triggered his bite. She is not anxious about another bite, as she will be more careful. But the road up ahead can be bumpy, including some snapping, and she will have to mentally prepare for the very real possibility that he will bite her or someone again when triggered the wrong way.

    I think and feel she has already committed to him. She is so full of love for him. I have to ask her to know for sure when I meet her later today.

    We do our daily routines with him just like normal. We rebuild mutual trust pretty fast.

    One thing we doubt is her punishment: he is not allowed to be in the bathroom anymore. I dont know: why take away his priveleges over what basically was a misundertanding?

  • If the area is associated with the behavior, I would agree with taking away access.

    If you felt like Yuka was guarding something and that's why she bit your girlfriend. But You can still use going into the bathroom area as a reward (depending on how much your dog likes that area). Instead of giving Yuka a treat, you can allow him to go into the bathroom for a period of time.

    Ham (my shiba) values his freedom to roam around a lot. If he takes advantage of that freedom, I limit his access in the apartment. But if he's on his best behavior and does some tricks, instead of giving him food as a treat, I'll let him hang out in the hallway (somewhere where he normally doesn't get to go) for a little while.

    But certainly your dog will not understand the concept of a punishment especially so far removed from when he acted out. Yuka has long forgotten that.

    Aside from getting in touch with a behavior specialist, I'd recommend handling exercises, so your dog can learn that you approaching is not threatening but actually a good thing. But depending on how reactive your dog is, I would contact the behavioralist first.
  • LilikoiLilikoi
    Posts: 1272
    I second the idea of handling exercises (as well as stuff like a behaviorist). You've gotten plenty of great advice here, and you seem willing to improve the situation. I would encourage your girlfriend not to see conflict as an attack or as something personal. Of course that's easier said than done haha. But he seems to be biting out of anxiety, as a reaction. And just as he needs training to not see a friendly hand as an attack, your girlfriend needs training not to see his anxious reactions as an attack as well. It likely will happen again, and that conflict provides an opportunity. It shouldn't be seen as a failure, but a chance to teach. Yuka didn't read the dog behavior handbook, he doesn't know appropriate behavior, and he's been through a lot in his past. This reaction has worked for him. It's gotten people to stop pushing him or doing things he didn't like, and he's learned that it is effective. I really don't think euthanasia is a valid option haha... I know that's why you saved him. But even if your girlfriend is unable to accommodate him and provide a structure condusive to his success, I think there are plenty of people out there who are capable of helping him. I think you guys definitely are, but it takes a strong spirit, and your girlfriend also needs encouragement to remain composed when something like this happens.

    Hope everything goes well.
  • BasBas
    Posts: 17
    Yes, we have contacted a local behavior specialist today that was recommended by the animal shelter.

    I talked to my girlfriend about if she wants to commit to him. She does. Totally.
    She is not fearful of him while playing and such. She realized her behavior was the trigger, and is very alert now to not trigger him again, to not let him feel attacked, so he does not have to defend himself. We also talked about the possibility that he will be scared and attack again sometime, and how she would feel and act when he bites her again out of fear, out of self defense: she would not be angry, but learn from her mistakes, she told me.

    Today we just were a warm, loving family.
    We did some 'sit! stay! come!' tricks, he really likes that, and it makes him want to come to us.
    We groom him everyday, taking turns. Today my girlfriend groomed him, and he was very relaxed about her touching him..

    She dropped all her fear, and combed him everywhere, and he was fine with that, totally relax, and presented his head so she would pet him. She did, it was all very harmonious. Gave him belly rubs and such.

    He is such a good dog. We are all positive about the future of Yuka in our family now.

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