Doggie Vampires; a Myth Debunked
Have you ever heard someone say “Once a Dogs tastes Blood…” and then it goes something like “the dog goes crazy and craves blood and kills anything it can…blah, blah, blah.”
It kind of makes me giggle to myself, until I realize that some people actually believe this old wives tale; and then it makes me a little sad.
I have even had people say they won’t give their dogs anything like raw meat because they don’t want the dog to get a “taste of blood” and turn on them or someone, or something else.
Now, I am a former vet tech and I know the risks of salmonella so I am all about not giving dogs raw meat. But a lick or a taste of blood isn’t going to turn your dog into a vampire.
If that were true, we would be ruled by a world of vampire dogs!
Dogs bite their tongues, lick their wounds, and also lick our wounds if given the opportunity! That doesn’t mean they become cannibals or seek to kill humans once they get a taste of how wonderful human blood tastes.
So why do we continue to hear this legend spread from generation to generation, over and over; never to die the death it deserves?
It is because we humans (at least most) simply have no understanding of dog behavior.
“Blood” has nothing to do with dog behavior.
Yes, I will admit that dogs are carnivores and prey animals. They are genetically preprogramed to have the ability to hunt and kill their food; without that they would just be helpless and dependent on others for their survival.
And, although some dogs would starve without the help of human kind; many would still be able to survive.
The Real Truth
Hunting is FUN for dogs!
As difficult and horrifying as that is for us to comprehend, it is true.
It is not about the taste of the final product, it is about the fun of the chase.
The reason that dogs may continue to chase and kill other small animals is that they are genetically predisposed to chase prey and have a prey drive and because the “thrill of the chase” is fun for them.
So I will admit, that if you have a dog that kills one of your chickens, it will be very difficult to keep him from killing another chicken, not because he has “tasted blood” but because he has had the “thrill of the chase”.
Not everything that pleases a dog is politically correct and unfortunately chasing and killing things can be very mentally stimulating and fun for dogs, especially those with high prey drives.
Most dogs don’t “eat” what they kill anyway (unless they are very hungry) they kill something or bite something and that is the end of the fun for them. It has nothing to do with how it tastes.
How it Relates to People
Most often dogs are not “chasing” people when they bite, however when they are these prey bites and pack mentality (especially dangerous when it is more than one dog) because of the same hunting and chase drives make these attacks even worse and sometimes fatal.
But most often dogs bite people because they feel like they are left with no choice.
They may have warned the person time and time again by growling, snarling, or stiffening and when the person does the “offensive act” again the dog feels he is left with no choice but to bite.
Again, dogs do not follow our laws or understand our rules. They do what they would do if another dog irritated them time and time again. Most give some sort of brief warning prior to using their mouths to stop the offender.
The reason that a dog who has bitten once is more likely to bite again? It is not because he has tasted the fountain of youth in human blood. It is because he was probably successful the last time he used his teeth.
When a dog bites a person, the person usually stops doing whatever he was doing in the first place.
For example: if your dog has growled at you time and time again for getting too near his food bowl, sooner or later he is likely to finally follow through and bite you. When he bites you, chances are you will back away from him and his food bowl.
The dog learns that his teeth “work” to keep you in your place or stop you from doing what he doesn’t want you to do.
This is why he is more likely to bite you or someone else again; because his teeth are an effective tool in controlling his environment.
How do You Keep Your Dog from Turning into a Vampire?
Okay so we have already debunked the “vampire” myth, but seriously how do you keep your dog from biting?
Obedience is key!
Obedience and knowing your dog is crucial. Obedience will give you control and will keep your dog from taking advantage of you or wanting to bite you.
Knowing your dog is crucial so that you know if it is safe or not safe to let him off leash around other animals. I have 3 young dogs, and 2 of them are likely to chase and kill something if I were to allow them to be off leash. When we were swimming at a remote pond the other day, a deer flew out of the bushes and right out in front of us (I literally could have touched him) 2 of my dogs were more interested in swimming than chasing the deer (one was just a pup), but the other chased after him. There is no question in my mind that he would have grabbed the deer, if the deer hadn’t had the upper hand in the speed department. That was a lesson for me that he can’t be off leash until I have more control of his obedience.
If your obedience is not up to par, then your dog has no business being given the opportunity to chase and hunt another animal. If your dog leaps, pulls, growls, barks or struggles to get to other animals when he is on leash, he has no business being off leash!
If he happens to be able to grab or heaven forbid kill another animal, he will be even more difficult to control!
And, if he has been allowed to bite a human, he is more likely to try and get an opportunity to bite again, because it was probably successful (at least in his mind)!
So it is imperative to his longevity and to keep you out of a painful and expensive court process to keep him from ever biting again.
Dogs need obedience and structure and if you can’t trust him you should never put him into a situation where he is likely to bite! Don’t force your dog to be petted or socialized with if he doesn’t desire socialization. You must keep him on a leash or safely contained so that an incident never reoccurs.
Dogs aren’t vampires, they are simply “dogs” and they have a different set of social laws and genetic predispositions. The first step to conquering your dog’s behavior is understand him, and learning how to control him through obedience!
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.