I haven’t commented before because a lot of people have been weighing in and emotions are high on this issue. I’m not going to engage in arguing on this thread. I’m just going to say that I have observed this situation twice–a dog so nervous and territorial that they are willing to bite. Before I moved out of my crazy parents’home, we did a lot of animal rescue, fostering, training and placement. We did extensive obedience training and behavioral training. The first case I saw turn bad was my friend’s dog– a doberman puppy they found in an alley. I love dobies and have nothing but great things to say about the breed, but this dobie pup was a nervous, skittish pup who was growing fast. After observing the dog’s behavior, I warned my friend and her mother that they needed to socialize the dog to help him accept other people and other dogs and to get over his over the top territorial and possessive behavior, he was possessive of the mother and was only bonding to her I explained how to socialize the dog, but the mother said no. She wanted it to be a guard dog and bond only to them (the family) and otherwise protect the household. I pointed out that he was showing early signs of aggression and he was defensive against anyone except the mother. I warned that it was only a matter of time before he bit someone and I told them flat out that it would be the five year old child he bit when the child got between the dog and his mother and the bite would most likely be in the face. I wish I had been wrong but I was right. I warned them twice and two months later the dog bit the child in the face. Luckily the child did not scar noticeably. The dog? Submitted to animal control and matched with a behavioral trainer. She tried many things but the dog had already learned to bite and continued to show aggression. He was put down four months after he bit the child. I believe the whole thing could have been prevented with training while the dog was young. But do I blame the child? No. He hadn’t even tugged on the dog. He was a victim.
The second episode was with a rescue fog my dad took in from a breeder he knew. The dog had been abused by his previous owner and the breeder didn’t want to place the dog with someone who didn’t have training and experience with rehabilitating dogs. We treated the dog kindly. He was great with us kids (the breed is known for being very protective of children and never harming them). He loved my dad. He loved our other dogs and played with them. But he would not tolerate visitors. We put him in a separate room before letting anyone in the house. He wouldn’t tolerate dogs that weren’t ours. My dad opened the front door to step out once and the dog darted out and attacked the neighbor’s golden retriever that was minding its own business in its own front yard. My dad ran after him and pulled the rescue dog off the neighbor’s dog quickly but the damage was bad. The other dog recovered well after receiving many stitches over his face and head, and my dad paid the vet bills, but that was a heads up that the dog was willing to bite and attack. The rescue dog then took a dislike to my stepmother. It’s not surprising. She treated us kids terribly and the breed is protective of children so….But also, she was someone who stood between him and my dad. He resented her. One day his paw got caught under a the seat of the car. My stepmother tried to help get him free. She got his paw free but got bit for it. My dad didn’t blame the dog because he was in pain. I agreed but my brother and I both thought it wouldn’t be the last time he bit someone. A week later he attacked my stepmother when she walked in the door. She had no warning and it wasn’t just a bite. He ripped her arm up pretty badly and she required a lot of stitches. When my dad ran to her aid, the dog bit him too. He also required several stitches. He backed out, shut the door to keep the dog in, and made the difficult decision to call animal control. The dog was put down. Yes, the dog was a victim but regardless of the cause, he was dangerous. Once a dog has crossed the threshold of aggression to the point that they’re willing to bite, then danger is what’s ahead. The bites will get more severe. The dog can’t tell you in words. The bite tells you that the dog has decided what it will not tolerate. And once it’s gotten over the initial inhibition to bite, then there is nothing holding it back. The question is not IF it will bite again, but WHEN.
When you posted that the dog nipped at you in your first thread, I knew it was only a matter of time before a more serious bite happened. But I didn’t post anything because people would’ve reacted with scathing anger that I would predict such a thing. But the behavior of a nervous, possessive dog is not hard to predict. Now the dog has communicated very clearly that he will not accept you or tolerate you and he is willing to bite you. He will bite you again. It’s not IF, it’s WHEN. Training will not fix this. There is no way that anyone can guarantee your safety around this dog and that is not acceptable. You have a right to be safe where you live. Oh, and you realize that your little dog is in danger too, right? People blaming you are missing the point. Blaming you for getting your own dog is not seeing the forest for the trees. Of course bringing another dog in would be a problem…. because Cookie had already rejected you. You were in danger the whole time, it was evident when Cookie first stood over your SO and growled at you. NOT getting a dog wouldn’t have changed that.
In your shoes I would absolutely move out. Your SO has chosen the dog over you and is blowing off your safety. If he can’t find a safe place for the dog to go to re-home him then the only option is to re-home yourself so you can be safe. When Cookie bites again it will be more severe. He is less inhibited now that he has crossed that line. I can’t believe it’s gotten this far. If my SO blew off my safety the way this guy is blowing off yours, I’d be out of there in a heartbeat. If your SO cares about you then he should care about your safety more than he has. He has also been neglectful of the dog by not getting him treatment before now. I know you said he had him checked out by the vet but the dog should have been medicated a long time ago. Now he still needs medication but it is not enough to guarantee your safety. Cookie is a big dog. He is capable of causing catastrophic injury to you.
What to do with Cookie? I don’t know, but it is clear that the two of you cannot share the same space. Locking him up in the basement is animal abuse and I can’t support that as a solution. Let your SO keep him safe at home I guess. It’s not your problem to solve. But it is your right to be safe. I would not wait for the next bite. I would leave now, not just because Cookie is dangerous (he is, it doesn’t matter that it’s not Cookie’s fault. He’s dangerous and that’s that). I would leave because your SO shouldn’t be someone who neglects a dog and blows off his girlfriend’s safety. You deserve better.