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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The other day I was doing some work at a farm, and the dog behaved unlike any I've seen.

Introduction

I've owned dogs in the past and realize how important first impressions can be when a stranger comes into its home, territory, or what have you. I usually don't look a dog directly in the eyes and let it come meet me before I interact with its owners, among all of the other tiny details I don't care to bore you with. Anyway, the dog was fine with me and the owners were surprised at how quickly it warmed up to an outsider. We had a good old time and it loved my attention, rolled over for belly scratches etc... Definitely not threatened or uncomfortable at that time.


Later

As I came there to work a week later, away from its owners I kept noticing the dog always behind me. It kept its head low, and every time I looked back it slinked away a little bit. I thought it was playing at first, and don't think I was displaying any strange body language but the look in its eyes began to bother me. It wasn't threatened or scared like a dog that wants you off its turf which is understandable and not unnerving at all to me. It just, I don't know, was up to no good and I had to keep a constant awareness about me as I felt almost like it was stalking me.


Long Story short

I got bit three times that day. Two of them bruised, and it was always the moment I focused on my work and stopped checking over my shoulder for that stupid dog.

2 times there was no one around, and the third the owners saw. I never actually saw the dog when it bit me from behind. It was silent and forgotten, and then I just had one painful bite on the mid to upper leg 3 times over the course of a day. It did not break skin through my blue jeans, but it hurt! The first was lighter, the second a slight bruise, and the third a worse bruise. The third bite, I whopped that dog upside the head instinctively and I felt kind of bad, but there were no more issues.

What gives????? I've dealt with some aggressive dogs and this has not been a problem. I'm not sure how to deal with a passive aggressive one. I was not threatening anyone. I was not getting in the dogs business, I was not challenging it. I was just trying to do my job and the moment I let my guard down. Out of nowhere! I was told it didn't like other people but its never bit anyone to the owners knowledge. It actually seemed to like me when I wasn't being stalked from behind. If I have to work for these people again, I don't want the dog to be scared of getting hit again. I'd like the problem to be identified so the owners can address it.
 

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There's not really anything you can do to help the dog safely, IMO.

I do agree this sounds like strange behavior. Any chance the dog is some kind of herding breed?

I would ask the owners to keep the dog put up away from you when you have to go back. Really, the owners need to hire a behaviorist/trainer, but that isn't really something you can help with.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
There's not really anything you can do to help the dog safely, IMO.

I do agree this sounds like strange behavior. Any chance the dog is some kind of herding breed?

I would ask the owners to keep the dog put up away from you when you have to go back. Really, the owners need to hire a behaviorist/trainer, but that isn't really something you can help with.
I thought the same thing, but I didn't notice any decisively herding cues from it. It was a mix, with the only known breed obviously being Siberian Husky which you could tell pretty easily by the coat, ears, head and eyes, but had a much stouter shorter build.

Most herding breeds I've come in contact with were at least somewhat vocal, energetic, and obviously were open to running a lot or even circling things haha. Though I wasn't there to observe it, I can't help but notice things. This was a very quiet dog, vigilant, attentive, good awareness and seemed to be more visually oriented perception than hearing and scent. Mellow and well behaved around their kids and didn't interfere with anything. You never know. It could have been, but I've got no hard evidence, and little subjective evidence supporting that theory.
 

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More I was thinking along to the lines of, if it were a herding breed, then perhaps this was an example of herding breed playing into some other emotion- likely fear/anxiety- and expressing itself in this weird manifestation. Not to say it would be less of a threat.

Honestly, you need to keep that dog away from you. It sounds like each time it bit it was biting harder, and the fact that you retaliated after the last one could mean it now sees you as even more of a threat.

That it not safe behavior to put yourself around, and it sounds like it is a fairly large dog, as well. Have the owners keep it away from you, and suggest they seek professional help in a nice way. If you were less understanding, you could possibly report this to the authorities and cause trouble for them depending on your location- some places do not require a break of skin to consider it a bite, and the fact that it bit not once but three times makes this more serious than if it was one nip and gone.
 

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Don't know if this is applicable in your described situation but I have witnessed dogs which are fairly territorial act completely different when their owners are not present versus when they are present.

The general trend is the dog is more at ease when their owner/handler is present and shows no signs of trepidation. I somewhat believe these type of guarding territorial dogs have more pressure on them when their normal human companion is not present and at times will react as you described.

Example: my current GSD is rather protective of her turf but will readily accept anyone into the house as long as I greet them and ask them in. However, if the same person leaves the house momentarily and then reenters without me being there, my dog will hold them at bay the moment they enter the front door. The dog will desist the moment I make my presence known and become friendly toward the individual. I basically believe my dog is just defaulting to certain territorial guarding instincts in my absence and when I am present, she has no pressure to exhibit this guarding behavior as the dog relies on and trusts in me.
 

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The other day I was doing some work at a farm, and the dog behaved unlike any I've seen.
^^This statement alone says it all.

Rural farming communities do not have the same standards as suburban or city dwelling pet owners do. They do not hire behaviourists, nor take their puppies to training school, etc. Other communities may differ, but in my area, you alone mentioning having your dog sleep inside at night and they look at you like your a crazy person harbouring a Water Buffalo in your living room. Trust me...I've gotten it, ha ha ha.

I have noticed that many farm dogs do not take too keenly on a stranger being around without the owners; and for many that is part of their overall function; they are farm/working dogs (for the most part, some do tie out which is so very sad). They are not the pet companions we see at the pet stores or dog shows or dog parks, etc. Their dogs get hit by cars and they just "keep an eye on them" and let bones set the way they broke. Yet you see theses dogs daily working on their farms with their owners happy as can be. When someone else is on their property without the owner around, the dog feels he/she needs to work independently and figure out if you're a threat or not.

While I do not agree with some farm dog standards, I still feel we are not one to judge. After seeing so many dogs with a purpose and function on their farms along side their owners doing what they do best every day can change someone's outlook on other communities and what is the norm there.

I would just kindly ask the owners to keep their dog elsewhere while you are there to work. What did they say when they saw the 3rd nip?
 
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