So it has been one week since the bite. I needed time to process and get my game plan adjusted. Copper was doing well and we let up on our management. Big mistake.
Here is an excerpt from an email sent to those involved in Toller rescue and professional trainers and Behaviorist.
We had an incident today that really disheartens me.
I will tell it like I remember, there is a bit of background over the weekend to read on my Blog if you have not.
We had Copper in the house with his drag lead on, he was trying to get into things he was not supposed to and we kept distracting him from those, he finally got a Squeaky toy and was busy with it.
He was under the grooming table, about 3 feet from Kevin on his right. Kevin was sitting at the Desk working on something, I was across the room to Kevin's left. Copper squeaked the toy and Nitt jumped out of my lap.
Copper started to growl, I got up and was trying to assess the situation, at the same time trying to grab Nitt, in case it was him he was growling at. Nitt was closer to me.
Kevin turned in his chair and leaned over, put his hand down to block Copper, and said drop it (Copper did not have anything in his mouth). Copper then lunged about three feet at Kevin's hand and bit him.
We have tightened our management program and I have a printed list of Copper's core Management program.
Below is an email from Kristen in answer to my original email.
How bad was the bite? Was there bruising, swelling, punctures, or just a red mark? Dog under bed, table… and human hand reaching down is a pretty hot spot for a dog bite from a guarder. Bones that the dog has been chewing on for awhile may be more valuable than a bone that has just been given to a dog. We will need to re-create that situation in a level at which the dog is comfortable, break it down into pieces, and train for the appropriate response. Lots of work.
Regarding the Bluetooth: Interesting that Cooper is still getting into things that he shouldn’t and choosing to chew on them rather than bringing them to you so that you ask him to drop and he gets a treat. Most dogs with a strong reinforcement history for dropping still pick things up that we don’t want them to have but they just bring them to their people instead of chewing them up.
I read your blog. Please keep Cooper off of furniture. Resource guarders are more likely to bite and do damage if they’re on furniture. And he’s more likely to guard it as a location as well. Also, foster dogs are more adoptable if they don’t have furniture habits and once adopted should not be allowed on furniture for a few months anyway.
Beef up your management. There were too many variables present (Nitt, Kevin busy, toys, bones) at once while both of you were busy. Crate him when you’re not actively training and the other dogs/toys/bones are around. Have Kevin work to fix his relationship with Cooper. Force/intimidation does not work on hard wired resource guarders or anxious dogs. It only makes them more anxious.
Add up the # of bites that Cooper has had. How many bites are acceptable for your rescue to adopt him out?
It has been a week now and no major problems. He went to the show in Indy with me and did very well. First time in the building he was pretty stressed at first but settled with lots of reinforcement. Copper loves riding in the car!! He seemed to prefer staying in the car rather in my friend's house at night. Seems to be like Splash in finding the car to be a safe zone.