Not All Dogs Growl or Blatantly Warn Prior to a Serious Bite: A Lesson in Dog Behavior
I have to deal with the worst parts of canine and human behavior.
I see the really devastating and bad situations.
I KNOW With Certainty That Not All Dogs Growl or Give Blatant Warnings Prior to a Serious Bite.
I also KNOW that the majority of dogs’ tails are wagging right before a serious bite.
I am not sure where all of these myths surrounding dog behavior come from.
And, it frustrates me beyond words when people describe dog aggression and then say things like
“Well, he has never bitten before”
“He only growls and snaps, he would never bite”
I want you to watch this video.
I think it is crucial to share this information and for people to SEE what can happen in a fraction of a second with a dog that is wagging his tail and not showing what others see as any signs of blatant aggression.
However, the signs are painfully clear.
Honestly, I feel sorry for everyone involved: mom, baby and dog.
Mom, clearly knows nothing about dog behavior. Yes, I am angry with her. How could she not see the signs? But no mother wants their baby bitten in the head by the family dog.
That is why this video is so important to watch and share; so that people can see that signs are not always blatant.
I am certain this dog has never bitten before, because he would not have been in this situation.
Clearly, I feel terrible and angry for the baby. Babies don’t know right and wrong and cannot read the nuances of dog behavior.
And, I also feel sorry for the dog.
The dog is cornered, he feels like he can’t get away.
You see him look to the left and then to the right, he is looking for an escape route. My guess is that he feels forced into staying. Which is probably why the mother is cooing to the phone and baby; she wants her photo op.
Unfortunately I have seen numerous owners make their dogs “down, stay” so that babies or toddlers can pet them. This takes away their ability to feel like they can get up and get away, which makes them feel trapped.
A trapped dog doesn’t feel like he has many options.
Would I prefer that this dog growl first? ABSOLUTELY!
But not all dogs give a blatantly aggressive display like growling, nipping, hackling etc.
And, there is, obviously, always a “first” bite.
Saying the dog has never bitten does not mean much if his behavior is showing aggression.
It is also CRUCIAL to recognize the signs of aggression!
Stiffening, looking away, tucking tail, quick tail wags, mouth drawn back and looking for an escape route are all subtle signs that aggression is on its way.
Ironically, as mentioned before, many people even write off extreme aggressive displays.
Now, I want you to watch this video:
I can’t even begin to try and understand this video.
And, the only ones I feel sorry for are the baby and the dog.
The people should be prosecuted.
The dog could not make it clearer that he does not want to be touched by the child.
The owners have even wrapped him up in a towel, presumably because they don’t want to be scratched or bitten.
Why on earth are they not heeding his warnings?
True, he may never have bitten before…
But there is always a first time!
And, a dog that has successfully been pushed to biting a child, is an even scarier beast.
Next time he might not give so many warnings, or be nearly as tolerant, and he might bite even more severely.
Pushing this to happen, then allowing it and living with the dog is like living with a live bomb and you don’t know when it will be tripped.
It is sad, all around!
Take your dog’s aggression seriously!
Even if it is just subtle signs, respect what your dog is trying to tell you.
Learn the signs of aggression, and the subtle signs of aggression, and train your eyes to recognize them quickly because you may only have a second or two.
Never leave your baby alone with a dog.
Never force your dog to be touched by a child if he seems uncomfortable!
Only a dog happily wagging that is soliciting affection from a child should be allowed to be petted WITH the help of the dog handler or parent.
Whenever I allowed children to pet my Service Dogs, I would take their hands in my hand so that, #1, my dog was more comfortable, and, #2, the child didn’t have the opportunity to hit or pull fur.
Teach the dog to be respectful of children and vice versa; they shouldn’t be expected to romp and play together – this is usually when problems develop.
Dogs have teeth!
An incident can be devastating for everyone.
The best thing is to respect behaviors and keep it from happening.
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.