Malinois people.. advice? (/got bit the other day)

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by Fran101, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. Fran101

    Fran101 Resident fainting goat

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    Ok, the back story.. I'm a dog walker and walk two malinois. I'm the only walker that will walk them (I was introduced to them with the owners present and MOST of the time...these dogs are fine) They are very intense dogs and the other walkers are scared of them (they are either loud and eerily quiet and either spinning/running/jumping or totally immobile. Just..odd dogs but not aggressive) ..if everything goes to plan, leashes are in the same place, I walk in, open their crates, leash em up and we go to the park and all is well.
    These dogs are in crates 8-10ish hours a day. I LOVE being able to let them really run in the afternoon. Our park has a baseball area that is never used so I go in there, lock it and let them run for an hour and play with them and their owners say it has REALLY helped.

    These dogs don't LIKE me exactly.. I mean.. they love that I have a chuckit and love going to the park. but they aren't very affectionate at all.. I mean, I kind of am just this thing that throws the ball and holds the leash. Which is fine.. but it's recently become apparent that I can't keep walking the line of "thing that holds ball/leash" because there has been incidents

    There have been two incidents now with these dogs.

    1. My mistake.. I let them out of their crates BEFORE I found their leashes. The leashes weren't in the same spot so I went looking and they cornered me barking and freaking out because I went into the bedroom (where the backup leashes are) I stood there petrified but at the end of it all no harm done really. I called the owners and told them to PLEASE ALWAYS leave the leads on the hook. No problems since until..

    2. And more recently. I got the leashes, let them out of their crates, leashed them up.. and then noticed my shoe was untied.
    I didn't open the door yet and one of them was in their GO GO GO GO BARK and kind of crazy mode and being excited and when I bent down to tie my shoe he got a little surprised I guess, redirected and bit my ear.
    It drew blood, and it was my ear so there was blood everywhere.. but it wasn't a BAD bite. He didn't growl or latch on. it was just like his mouth did it before his brain understood.

    My boss says enough is enough and wants to drop them as clients saying they are a liability and what if they bit me seriously etc...
    Right now it's under deliberation

    Any ideas on what I can do to kind of try to make this not happen again?

    The owners gave me the OK to give them treats and do whatever I need to do really.
    I do like these dogs. they are wicked smart and fast and I do LOVE being able to take them out..it's not fair they are crated as long as they are.
    I just really don't want to get bit again. I know he didn't do it on purpose but it hurt!

    They aren't aggressive. I know it reads like WTF.. but they are just..I dunno.. intense and loud and excited. The male that bit me, really, he isn't a MEAN dog. He is just pent up and when he does get out it's like OH GODDDDD and he loses his ****.

    and their owners aren't bad people. They are super active with their dogs on weekends and tuesdays (they go hiking and camping and running all kinds of stuff) and they do go running with them every night (like jogging) but every other weekday.. it is what it is. They are pent up.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    Honestly? I've worked with dogs for a few years, and have worked with a lot of "problem" dogs that others aren't willing to deal with.

    If he redirected at you tying your shoe, enough to draw blood....I'd be really, really hesitant to keep working with them. GOD FORBID something worse happens....like anyone coming up to the baseball diamond fence, sticking fingers through, and getting bit....or at this point even something like a child falling next to the dog on the sidewalk...you're going to be liable for it. Especially with TWO. If it was just one, it'd be a little safer, but two....I really wouldn't risk it.

    When he bit your ear, did he give any warning? Growl or anything? Or did you learn down to do it over him or right in his face? Or did you just bend down next to him and he turned and nipped? Even if it's not outright aggressive...it's hard for me to believe something like an excited bite or nip would draw blood like that.

    ETA: I had a similar incident with a rottie. This dog was not aggressive in ANY way, but got way over excited about fences. He was intense, made other people uncomfortable, loud, big, etc. He got really worked up about a dog behind a fence and started barking, and I put my hand in front of his face to say ENOUGH, and he bit me. But he didn't draw blood. It bruised...but no blood. I'm not saying a bleeding bite is an end-all-and-be-all aggressive bite, but it's worrisome.
     
  3. stardogs

    stardogs Behavior Nerd

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    This is tricky - it sounds like pent up energy and over the top arousal which is an awful combo. In your shoes I'd be looking for ways to lower their arousal level before letting them out of the crates and considering walking just one at a time.

    Will they respond to obedience cues from you? Do they have a place cue or could you teach one? Are they at all resource guardy with each other? If not, would they grab a toy and hold it while you get things ready for the walk?
     
  4. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    Their mouths move faster than their minds.

    This is great info.

    Try a calm down in the crate before a release. Try and cap that intensity. Sorry kids, teacher ain't budgin til you chill.

    Ever wonder why Backup always has a toy? It's both his love and also a precaution, can't bite as easily if you have a pacifier in.

    Backup bit my inner thigh working on our leg weave, it was BARK BARK BARK CHOMP, it was accidental and his mouth came down on me but they bark with such force... Or was it a demanding, hurry up, nip?
     
  5. Fran101

    Fran101 Resident fainting goat

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    He gave no growling warning. But he was barking.. but he is always barking.. from the minute I arrive to when we are out the door they are both just.. LOUD. BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK and running in circles and jumping

    I bent down next to him facing the wall a bit (I am really careful not to lean OVER them) but he was mid barking/spinning fit and I think I just surprised him by all of a sudden being his level. Honestly it was all just so loud and fast.. I wish I had video or something because I'd like to see what went wrong. I think it was just..wrong place.. wrong time.. too much energy honestly.

    I worry about walking them to the park even.. they chase shadows, they bark really loud at stimulus (other cars, dogs, people), are very dog reactive.. it's just really hard.
    but on the other hand.. it's like..I feel for these dogs. They aren't mean they just always seem so happy to be running and out of their crates..

    It really wasn't a BIG bite. I mean, it's a small wound. There was quite a bit of blood but I was also kind of flailing around.
    There wasn't blood POOLING like everywhere lol I don't know why I wrote there was blood everywhere that makes it sound worse than it was.

    There was blood everywhere as in, droplets and on my hands and I was touching the walls and the door and everything so it does look pretty bad but not like..crime scene bad. I didn't need a hospital.

    What would be some ways do you think to calm them down? It's just so hectic.. they are so pent up I don't think waiting would do it.

    They can't be walked one at a time. When separated.. even like, for a few seconds to leash up one. THEY FLIP. The owners say the male nearly broke his jaw and bloodied himself up really bad when the female went to the vet for an hour.

    They don't respond to obedience cues from me at all. They are obedience trained and work with their owners pretty well but alas.. I am not them.

    They aren't resource guardy and do play together.. he does have a stuffed animal he does like to hold and shake when he's excited for a walk sometimes.. but I haven't seen it lately!! I think he destroyed it now they have no stuffed toys in the crate to shake. Maybe that's it as well! I didn't even think of that.. it's usually like bark bark bark, spin spin spin and then he takes it out on the stuffy

    I'll talk to the owners about maybe working on cues with them/teaching me the cues. All their commands are in german or something.

    and getting some stuffies..
     
  6. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    The owners need to work on separation anxiety BIG TIME in that case.

    I personally wouldn't continue waking them until some serious training/behavior modification took place. Too much of a liability.
     
  7. Fran101

    Fran101 Resident fainting goat

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    It seemed like a hurry up/surprise thing. "LIKE YAY WALK BARK BARK BARK OMG GOING ON A WALK YAY YAY YAY..AHH!! GIRL SITTING DOWN AHHHH! CHOMP!!" He was just so excited. He is so wound up..

    If anything honestly, the female was the one I always had my eye on. She is quieter but like..stiffer. he is such a crazy just well meaning.. dodo.
     
  8. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    These dogs are an accident waiting to happen, I really don't think it's your place as a walker to "fix" them without a trainer.


    They need a lot of calm and control work. My dogs are nuts but it's a focused nuts, these dogs sound over stimulated by their entire environment.

    Does your boss partner with trainers ever? Could they?
     
  9. Maliraptor

    Maliraptor Bite me.

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    I don't think you should be walking these dogs. I'm sorry, I know you want to help and get them out, but think of the liability if someone else you're walking by leans down to tie their shoe.

    This is a great example of why the Malinois is not for everyone. If they were YOUR dogs, and/or you could do obedience with them, it would be a different story completely. But even if you could take the occasional misdirected nip, you can't tell them NOT to do that to someone else.

    I agree with the others, these dogs need more work, with their owners, before being walked by a dog walker.
     
  10. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    Sounds like typical male and female malinois, imo. Honestly, (like in my previous post, sorry DP) they need a trainer. Are they like this with the owners? My dogs, as I have said, would not be appropriate for dog walker care, these may not be either unless you pair up with a trainer (you should be getting paid more than an average walk) and begin a regiment.
     
  11. stardogs

    stardogs Behavior Nerd

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    Yea they need a good trainer ASAP. This is way too much for you to try handling as a walker. :(

    The fact that they can't be separated without possible injury PLUS the over the top behavior before the walk even starts means the owners need to be on board and put some heavy work in before expecting someone else to get the dogs to be responsive to them.

    I hate stories like this. They just sound like normal mals who haven't gotten the training and structure they need, let alone exercise and mental stimulation. :(
     
  12. Fran101

    Fran101 Resident fainting goat

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    We have a trainer but I mean..she does puppy class and basic behavioral stuff.. I could perhaps talk to her about going to see them but at this point my boss is beyond trying to handle this and just wants to drop them.

    Over stimulated by their whole environment is a good way to put it..


    The liability (I mean other than with me) is also what kind of gets me.. I do what I can.. I lock the door, I walk them at off times when no-one is out, take back ways, YELL at people from afar to stay away..

    but I'm 5'2.. they weigh more than me put together and although they don't PULL (they just spin and bark and lean but they've never been pullers) I know if they got it in their heads to pull me somewhere..they very well could.

    It just sucks. They really aren't mean.. and I know they do like the exercise.

    They aren't like this with their owners. I mean, they are just as LOUD at home when their owners come home/before walks but on walks.. totally different dogs.
    They heel perfectly (they don't pull with me but they aren't like..perfect heel either), don't bark at things, look at them while walking. They are still reactive to dogs but they don't bark at people/bikes/trucks. They are so FOCUSED with them..

    It's just so frustrating. I want to help these dogs but it's just so stressful dealing with them..

    Right now, the owners are reaching out and want to try a few walks with them and me to see if they can teach me I guess.

    I really don't think these dogs are going to listen to me bark commands in german.
     
  13. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    I understand and you're a good person, please be very careful if you continue with them. I think it may be extremely irresponsible of the owners to try and continue but I could be incorrect.

    What about training them to accept muzzles?
     
  14. stardogs

    stardogs Behavior Nerd

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    Hmm. It's good that the dogs respond much better to their owners, but I'm still skeptical that they can transfer their skills to you in such a way that the liability goes down.

    Seeing how the owners set the dogs up for walks could be very informative (there may be a routine you aren't fully aware of) and I would definitely have them give you the command words and help you practice with them.

    I'm glad they are willing to work with you, just be careful and try not to let the cute faces get to you if they ask you to try walking again before you're comfortable.
     
  15. CatStina

    CatStina SBT Lover!!

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    I have no advice, just wanted to say that you are an awesome person for trying to figure something out in this situation!
     
  16. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    This could be a temporary solution. Both my dogs are trained to accept basket muzzles "just in case" and all my future dogs will be too. They shove their face in the muzzle because they know it comes with high rewards.
     
  17. Fran101

    Fran101 Resident fainting goat

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    If the owners could get them used to it.. I would be 100% for it. I'll suggest it to them.
    As it is honestly.. I think this will be my last week with them. Regardless, muzzle training or no.. my boss doesn't want the liability. She isn't very happy about how they responded to the incident.

    They were apologetic but not..surprised. It was kind of like "Oh we are sooo soo sorry! Oh she bent down to tie her shoe..ya.. I can see that.." and they started talking about how it was probably him re-directing his frustrations.
    My boss is not happy.
    From the early stages, they said these dogs were LOUD and active and drivey.. but not a bite risk AT ALL. and it seems (from their casual use of the term re-direction) that they sort of knew.

    The idea of two active dogs and one small walker was already pushing it with her.. but they do better with girls and I was the only one that would go near them.
    but the thin ice has kind of broken up at this point with everything else on top of that.
     
  18. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

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    I think there wasn't any "warning" about the bite because it wasn't that kind of bite. It was about overstimation and not threatening.

    My thought reading this is...are they open to using bark collars on the dogs? I have seen bark collars work wonders on dogs who act like this. When they can't get into the frantic barking, it prevents them from working themselves into a frenzy. Or at least, it helps keep them from going into overload. I would also make sure there were always plenty of toys for them to get their mouth on as soon as they come out if thd crate. I would probably not try to work on waiting until they're calm to let them out at this point. I'm worried that will backfire and get them more wound up, while creating barrier frustration...with you on the other side of thd barrier. Now if their owners could get them doing Crate Games and really solid on it, that would be different. It doesn't sound like that is likely though.
     
  19. Fran101

    Fran101 Resident fainting goat

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    They did walk me through how they prepare.. so hopefully they can give me some commands that would be helpful. If nothing else I'd like to at least be able to know how to say SIT or WAIT or something.

    They are decent nice people.. and very active (on the weekends) and their dogs do seem well trained with them and they do LOVE their dogs.
    I just wish they had more time for their dogs..
    It's not my place to ask I just wish I understood why they have two malinois when they work such long hours or why they have them in the first place. I mean.. of all breeds for two surgeons to have.

    I really won't be walking them alone until I am 100% sure. Cute as they may be...As it is, I worry about being too jumpy around them, especially the male who I was more comfortable with. and jumpy is not good..
     
  20. Fran101

    Fran101 Resident fainting goat

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    I don't think waiting will do it. They get worse the more time that goes on.. I checked my phone once and I thought he was going to break his teeth on his crate or give himself a heart attack. I would worry what waiting even longer would do..

    thing is, I'm not even in the position to be giving the owners training advice. It's just..not like that. They want to teach me some things but they seem pretty set in how they are doing things/how these dogs are managed. They do TRAIN these dogs but it's a lot of heel work and stuff and not things like crate games and waiting patiently..

    I will ask if they've ever tried bark collars. Honestly.. I don't think anything would deter them from barking when they are in that state. Or I would worry what they would do if they couldn't bark.

    It's just such a weird line to kind of teeter on. There is only so much I can do/say to them really (their owners). And as for the dogs, I am only with them an hour or so a day
     

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