When Cuteness is a Curse: Story of a puppy that bites. 01/23/2021 By Kerry S Meet Fae. The Puppy. The Biter. By now, countless studies have illustrated that temperament is not “all in how you raise them.” There are certain biological factors at play. Environment certainly has a strong influence on an individual, yes, but DNA is part of the equation too. Fae is an excellent example of this. Fae was brought into her original home at around 10 weeks old and spent about 3 months there. Based on notes available about her history, it appears Fae had some fearful tendencies from the get-go; likely as a result of genetics. These tendencies were then exasperated by a well-intentioned family who seemingly did not know what they were dealing with. They didnt have the tools to set Fae up for success. This is a common situation. From what we know, this dog received little to no advocacy from the people who were responsible for helping her. The adults in the home allowed the children and household visitors to touch Fae in areas of her body they knew she was uncomfortable with. The professional help that was searched out did not address what Fae needed. Fae was set up for failure. Dog aggression never starts at a bite. It’s a ladder of escalation: – Stiff body – Pinned ears – Hard stare – Lip lift – Growl – Air snap – Bite What happens when lower-level signs don’t stop the scary thing from happening? The dog skips those next time and starts with a higher intensity. What the dog quickly learns is: Bite makes scary things stop. Other things don’t make scary things stop. Bite works. When we feel we’re in danger, we all do what works, right? Fae did what worked. Fae has bit. More than once all before she just turned 6 months old. Fae’s cuteness was her greatest curse because people want to touch cute things. Babies. Puppies. Kittens. Bunnies. Chubby goodness that we need our hands all over. We’ve all done it! They’re adorable and we need to squeeze them and pet them and love them. With animals, in some cases, this works out ok. The animal gets used to human touch and the way our society expects dogs to respond perfectly to it being thrust on them. But in some cases, it doesn’t work out. And when there is no one noticing the ques and advocating for that little being, they are left to fend for themselves in the most animalistic way they know-how. Instinct and reacting out of fear. Fae reacted out of fear and bit. Fae was surrendered to a shelter in Minnesota. This is where Pet Haven steps in and where foster-based rescue can be so powerful. The shelter had this pup and they did not have the capacity to give her the stability, guidance, and training she needed to succeed so the shelter reached out to Pet Haven for help. We evaluated the circumstances of Fae, her behavior, and her needs. We felt with the right foster she could shine. We took a chance on Fae, just 6 months old, we believed she deserved another chance. Welcome to Pet Haven, Inc. of Minnesota Fae! She’ll spend the next several months in foster care learning she is safe and has people advocating for her needs. She has started her journey with Emily Randolph Hanson from Follow Me Dogs MN. She’ll learn how to make better choices. She’ll learn that muzzles are fun and that life is no longer a chaotic free-for-all; that she can find safety and comfort in the structure and order that her life will now have. She’ll learn to trust her people and feel safe. She will have clear boundaries and structure and know what is expected of her. This can be a game-changer for a dog. A shy or fearful dog needs structure to feel safe. She is getting to use food puzzles, go for lots of walks, play with some dog friends (eventually) and show her muzzle off when tiny humans or new people are around. And when we feel she is ready we will find her an owner, support them through adoption, and after to do all of these things for her, too. This is the Pet Haven Promise She’s not a perfect dog and she’s not a dog for just any home out there. *But that’s ok.* We see her value and we are also transparent about her history to make sure we set Fae up for success. That’s the Pet Haven Promise. Fae is doing great! Even better than we had anticipated. Seeing her truly joyful, trusting those around her, and learning the tools to be an emotionally healthy dog is so rewarding. This is the power of foster-based rescue and why we do what we do. We go where we are needed most and take a chance on those often left behind. This is the Pet Haven Promise and work worth doing! Below are some videos of Emily Randolph Hanson from Follow Me Dogsworking with Fae and teaching her trust. We are grateful that Emily is onboard to help our Pet Haven Pups be the best they can be! Learning “Place” and positive touch Leash Work- follow the leader IF you would like to support our work so we can help more dogs like Fae, please consider a gift by donating here today! Thank you. As a related side note, we hope the one takeaway from Fae’s situation can be this… If you opt not to adopt and go to a breeder please choose your breeder carefully. Be careful of those who are just looking to make money with no consideration for the TEMPERAMENT and health of the offspring they are producing. Good breeders have waitlists of people wanting to get one of their puppies. Meet both parents. Make sure they are physically and emotionally healthy. Make sure the breeder does some vetting of you, too; a good breeder will care about where their puppies are going. Make sure the pups have genetic guarantees written into their purchase contract. They should provide vet records and referrals to you without batting an eye. If any of the above is missing from your purchase experience, rethink the source.