9.15.2008

my name is appple, and my dog bites.

as anyone who adopts a stray can attest to, you never quite know the background details of your dog. rarely do you find out how or why it became a stray. your world becomes a conundrum of speculation. did he run away? did his owners put him out? was he sick and they couldn't afford the vet bills? did he bite? how long was he on the streets for? where did he sleep? did he run in a pack of other dogs? what kinds of habits did he learn? where does his domestication begin and instincts end? how was he treated as a puppy? how old is he?

these are just a few of the questions i ask myself every day, every time i learn something new about eddie.

we've pieced together that he can't go to the park before dinner. he has a tendency to leave the park when he's hungry. he's small so he slips out the through the fence. last time he did it, he went into a gated playground and barked at some children. that's a lawsuit waiting to happen.

we've learned that he can't be off his leash, especially in an open park, especially at night. he is afraid of loud noises, including sirens and motorcycles, and will chase after them if he feels threatened. he's afraid of runners and bicycles and will lunge at them too. we've put him on a choke chain. it's helping in the moment, but i'm not sure it's impacting his overall understanding of what's ok and what's not.

he often lunges at random people. one day it's a man in a suit. the next, a sanitation worker. the next, a tiny little girl. there seems to be no rhyme or reason. perhaps eye contact? most of the time he couldn't care less about the people who walk past.

he doesn't bark at the door to go out. we have him on a pretty regimented schedule for that, but he still has his accidents. only i'm not sure they're accidents as much as territorial pissings. (miss you kurt)

he doesn't like being reprimanded. or not getting his food in the exact moment he wants it. when either of these things happen, he snarls and bears his teeth like a gremlin after midnight. the coin can does not deter this weird face. i'm not sure what will. he does not like to be held by his collar and reprimanded. he's bitten me three times now, twice on my left hand, enough to break skin and make me bleed. maybe i'm the one who needs to learn. i'm trying to establish dominance. i'm not sure it's working. he hasn't bitten d.

i've read a lot about training, obedience, consistency, submission, pack mentality, alpha territorial behavior, and the like. he exhibits some alpha behaviors, but not complete lists.

i didn't think owning a dog would be like this. i never expected to be responsible for an aggressive dog. i'm not sure what to do to train this out of him.

and so, as my hand numbed in rigidity from tonight's bite, i found myself saying out loud, this is not what i wanted, this is not what i want, i can not have a dog who bites. and when you say something out loud, it becomes real. and when something becomes real, you must deal with it.

and so now i have to deal with a dog who i'm angry at. a problem, the only solution to which seems returning him to where he came from. and this is not an option.

4 comments:

Alexandra said...

Yikes! I hope you have had an up to-date tetanus injection? And personally, unless you are willing to invest a great deal of time and effort, and maybe money too, in training your dog, it's not going to get any better any time soon.

Dogs really are like small children, they need discipline and training from the moment they're born. Unless you're the dog whisperer.

Good luck with the hard decision.

julie said...

no - you cannot return eddie. seriously - try contacting the dog whisperer cesar milan. while he probably wouldn't come all the way to brooklyn maybe he could offer some training tips.

appple said...

alex - the dog's had all his shots, so i'm not terribly concerned about the transfer of diseases. i work in city public schools and probably encounter more filth and pestilence there than in my wily pup's mouth.

and jules, thanks for the tip. we're looking into some local trainers to see if they have any good ideas for my schizo dog.

Leo MacCool said...

good luck, appple. having wanted a dog for so long myself i can imagine the pain of finding yourself in this situation. i think animals can change, given the right support & circumstances, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you can provide that for eddie. anyway, no judging here, just hope for the best for all of you.