“He Grabs People as a Greeting”: My Experience With a New Dog Training Client
As I entered the home of a new client their 80 pound dog grabbed my forearm HARD and deep in his mouth.
They chased after him and tried to swat him off of me, but as they did so, his grip just got deeper and he tried to swing me out of the way so that he could keep my safely affixed in his mouth.
I did my best to remain calm and plot my escape so that I could release his grip without needing stitches.
I asked them to back up and leave the room and I gave the dog a command I knew that he knew (I had worked with him in another setting before).
Immediately he released his grip and sat for me, awaiting his reward.
Even though I was not bleeding, he had most definitely broken skin and if I hadn’t had prominent tattoos the bruise would be utterly breathtaking in a few days.
I wasn’t mad, yet.
After all, working with dogs; especially aggressive dogs is what I do.
This kind of scenario, although a little odd, is the price I pay for working with animals.
But then they said it.
“He Grabs People as a Greeting”, “He was just saying ‘Hi’.”
I have to admit by this point I was a little irritated.
Interestingly enough, though, this is not the first time I have heard this!
That was not a “greeting” in my opinion.
I couldn’t believe that people could be so in denial about their dog’s behavior.
At this point I was attempting to take a seat on the sofa, when the dog jumped up and grabbed me with his forelegs and started to put his mouth on the back of my head.
I mean, I am sure he was just kissing me, right?
I stood up and demanded that they put a leash on him.
With his leash, I could ensure that he couldn’t get up on me or even too near me.
I could hold him at a distance and ask him to perform tasks or teach him new tasks so that I could reward good behavior.
Ironically, this behavior wasn’t pure aggression.
It was definitely aggressive, but it spurned from the owners lack of willingness to exercise and train the dog and give him the stimulation that he needed.
He grabbed me because he wanted to play with me, albeit inappropriately.
But, this behavior isn’t acceptable!!
If he had done this to the wrong person, they could have called animal control and reported a bite.
It isn’t acceptable from an 80 lb. large dog, and it isn’t appropriate or acceptable from a Golden Retriever, or a Chihuahua.
If I had been a little bit physically weaker, or older, or if my skin had been just a bit thinner and I had pulled back on my arm that was locked in his jaw or overreacted at all; this scenario would have resulted in a bad bite.
The kind of bite that could have taken this dog’s life.
The dog who is barely over a year old is severely frustrated with his home environment.
- He doesn’t have a yard.
- His people say they can’t walk him.
- He doesn’t get to run.
- They don’t work on any kind of training.
And, he has been allowed to do this since he was a puppy.
Interestingly, now that he is 80 lbs., they are barely starting to realize it may be a problem.
All while maintaining an odd denial about the seriousness.
This is Very Serious!
How to Turn This Dog Around
First, he needs training and structure.
Real training, “boot camp” like in structure and persistence while making it fun.
This dog would fight any kind of traditional correction type of training and it would undoubtedly make his aggression much worse.
I recommend a gentle leader or an easy walk harness so that walking can be attained a bit faster than the regular amount of time that it takes a dog to learn heel. https://thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/premise-magical-dog-leash/
Because teaching a dog great leash manners is one of the most difficult commands to teach and it takes time and patience.
That does not mean I don’t want them working toward those goals. I simply want him to get some much needed exercise while he is in training.
He also needs more structured exercise like running next to a bicycle, swimming, weight pulling, dock diving, lure coursing.
In order to be happy, this working dog needs true work!
Limit His Sociability
This dog is hinging on dangerous.
He needs structure and obedience around people so that he doesn’t treat people and children like chew toys.
And for a great video series that shows you how to work on obedience, click here.
If he is allowed to continue these behaviors, the bites will get harder and worse and someone is likely to get hurt.
If he needs to have something in his mouth (some dogs are orally fixated) then give him a toy to put in his mouth. Only do this if he doesn’t have possessive issues and doesn’t guard his things. Otherwise this may be worse.
When people come over this dog needs to be on a leash or in a crate if he cannot be worked with while company is over.
He needs to maintain a sit stay or a down stay (preferable) when people visit.
If they exercise him HARD, he should be tired when company arrives.
If they can’t devote that kind of time to him prior and when people are there, he should be crated with something to chew on in a room away from excitement and with a radio on to mask the sounds of visitors.
If there Are No Changes
If the owner doesn’t commit to some very serious changes, I foresee that this dog will be euthanized within the year.
True change takes sincere effort and control and never falling back into bad or lazy habits.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.