I really want you to pet me but I kinda wanna bite you

This is one of those pictures I saw on Facebook the other day.  Admittedly I saw it a few months ago and a kitten was the face on the picture.

I giggled, I have a cat like this.  If you visit my home, she is the cat that will purr and rub on your legs, she may even hop in your lap… but after a few seconds of you petting her, she is likely to bite you.

I think it is the evil Siamese in her 😉

She is not the only cat I have owned over the thirty some years of my life that has had that propensity.

When people enter my home, I warn them that the most aggressive animal in the house is this particular house cat.  I also make sure no one pets her.

This Can be True

This Can be True

But, just the other day I saw a picture of a Belgian Malinois holding a sign with the same caption and it got me thinking.

Thinking is sometimes bad for me!

But, what people don’t realize is that this statement is actually true.

They have that face of “I really want you to pet me” they may even wag.

And, sometimes they really do want you to pet them….

But then halfway through they decide they changed their mind…

This leaves you or your child set up for a bite.

This is one of the most complex behaviors because it is often difficult to recognize when you have worn out your welcome.

I Used to Have a Dog Like This

He went off to be a police dog and bite people in prisons.  It was not a behavior I liked.  It actually stood the hair up on my neck.

He would wander over to the person, offer his rump and his head for a scratching and when they were mid scratch he would begin to growl from what seemed like the bottom of his toes.  He only did it once before I didn’t allow him to socialize anymore, but once was enough.

Now at this moment, it was scary for them to remove their hand.  Most people want to yank their hand away… but this can make it worse.

It is best to slowly retract your hand, if you ever find yourself in this predicament.

I for one stopped allowing this particular dog to solicit attention or affection from anyone, and stopped allowing people to pet him.  He was becoming unpredictable.

This type of “civility” as it is called in the protection training world is often genetic and it started rearing its ugly head at about 6 months.  Prior to this event he was social.

He was a very dominant dog, who in my opinion tried to mask his lack of confidence with some defensive mechanisms.  And actually he never really “liked” it when I petted him… petting just didn’t do much for him.  He was not an affectionate dog.

If You Have a Dog Like This

hands offYou will probably need the professional help of a veterinary behaviorist.  This is a very complex behavior and a very scary behavior.

I would rather have a dog that growls or barks at a person from a distance, and makes his intentions known than the dog that allows a person to pet him and then decides against it.   For more on why a growl can be a good thing, click here.

A dog with any kind of aggression issue needs very good obedience!  Your obedience and control over him should be flawless!

Obedience gives you control and helps decompress the dog and gives him something to do!

For help on obedience check out our programs and our store by clicking here. 

The Most Important Thing is Keeping Everyone Safe

It is crucial to keep people safe, and if you can’t read and control your dog then it is best not to allow people to pet him/her.

This would be the perfect dog to train in a basket muzzle (for more on why I love a muzzle click here).

Basket muzzles can allow you to socialize without as much worry of a bite.

The naughty boy before he got quite as naughty

The naughty boy before he got quite as naughty

Not that that means that these dogs should be petted but it is important to socialize any dog you just have to find a safe distance and have your dog under control.

Socializing and petting are two very different things!

I have found that teaching a dog like this that you are in control and you will not allow anyone to pet him helps to teach him to trust you and it keeps him from rewarding himself by being a bully.

Some dogs actually find it appealing to scare people away, so by not allowing him to engage people to that degree you keep him from rewarding himself in this way.

We Must Understand

Not all dogs like being petted!

Some are dominant

Some are nervous or fearful

And I think sometimes for some of them petting kind of overstimulates them and can excite them and they decide they don’t like it while they are being petted (for more on how over excitement can lead to a bite click here)

So follow these rules and keep up on your obedience if you have a dog like this.

And remember as a parent and as a person that loves dogs, not all dogs like to be petted.

I only pet dogs that I know and the ones I am very confident want to be petted (the ones with squishy face) for more on squishy face and more about reading dog body language click here.

Understanding dogs and giving them space is sometimes priceless!

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  1. Should I be concerned? Our two Cairn Terrier’s are attacking and killing small prey in our fenced in yard. So far in 21/2 years of ownwership, 3 groundhogs and 2 small birds that nest in bushes, 2 chipmunks and 1 rabbit. etc. They chase every animal including having rushed at other dogs if they are not leashed. Hence they are always leashed beyond my house or fenced in yard. They are close to seven. We bought them from a rescue site on line. They are current medically on all shots , etc. They are loving dogs and are gentle and not aggressive toward people, including children. We watch them closely around children and try to educate the people who are visiting with us as to how children, as well as adults must behave toward a dog. I’ve been assuming that this agression toward other animals was not discouraged or maybe even encouraged by their previous owners. I can ramble on…. anyway thank you in advance Barry


    Minette Reply:

    Terriers were bred to go to ground and kill things…

    I would worry about other dogs and do what you are doing… keep them on leash.

    But many terriers will kill small rodents and birds if they can catch them.


    Linda Reply:

    My Jack Russell will kill whatever she catches on our wooded acre, but she has the support of her pack mates, my Boxer and my miniature Aussie. Jacks never give up. They will dig their way to their prey if need be. They have killed several feral cats that also like to hunt our property.


  2. Amber says:

    The beginning of the post explains my cat exactly! I learned quickly, though. Once her tail starts moving back and forth faster, even it she’s still purring, it’s time to stop the petting and let her do what she wants. Luckily, she’s never hurt me bad and I can usually just laugh when she attacks me with her claws and teeth, but then again, I’m used to it. I just hope she doesn’t do it to a guest… I could get in some deep trouble over that…


  3. Richard Carter says:

    Hi there I have a male Rottie who loves to be petted, hugged and tickled as he starts “growling” sounding as if he will kill me any second I intensify the hugs and tickles – he then rolls on his back growling like anything taking my hand gently in his mouth with many play bites never ever hurting me. It is a great game to him which he loves!!!
    Kindest regards Richard


  4. Bob Davenport says:

    You have described my Tibetan Terrier to a “T”eeth except for one thing: it depends on whether he’s inside or outside. True, he hates to be touched, held, or embraced and has bitten me and my wife numerous times, but only when inside the house. His personality is completely different when he’s outside where he actually enjoys being embraced and petted and acts like a totally different dog. We’ve learned his limitations and we give him his space when he needs it now because it almost seems as though he doesn’t even realize that he’s doing it. He is very ashamed and sorry whenever he bites and acts like he can’t believe what he just did. We considered an exorcism (just kidding), but decided that’s just the way he is & no amount of training is going to change that quirk.


  5. Melissa says:

    I was surprised that you didn’t mention physical ailments in your post. We have a 5 YO schnoodle who is a little 12 lb love bug. Earlier this spring we’d be petting him and if you touched the back of his neck he’d bare his teeth and growl. If you didn’t stop he’d jump up and run away. Very unusual behavior for him. Come to find out, he had a tick on the back of his neck that was giving him some pain. Once the tick was removed the behavior stopped. A tick is a pretty obvious pain point, but I would have to assume that a dog suffering from underlying pain, for example joints, might be harder to diagnose. A trip to the vet is certainly worth while, IMHO, and I would suggest a dog owner make sure there’s nothing physically wrong with the animal where he might be saying “Hey, lay off that area, that hurts!”


    Minette Reply:

    I have in past articles 🙂


  6. Kim says:

    Hello. We have a young 11 month old lab shepherd cross. She loves kids. She barks at new people who come to our house or at everyone nearby at a ball game or at the beach. She is a smart dog but seems very scared and cautious. We tell people she is just scared. Do we encourage people to pet her or just leave her be till she relaxes in a crowd. She was a rescued dog and especially fearful of men. She will warm up to kids and women sooner. She will be a great dog someday I know it. Not sure how to get her over her fears. Force her or let her do it on her own time.


    Minette Reply:

    If you force her she is liable to bite someone very badly because she will feel like she can’t get away.


    Cindi Reply:

    I have a shepherd/husky mix who is exactly the same way. She was also a rescue, and very barky when we first got her. She is almost 9 years old. She is very barky towards men, but not quite as bad towards women and children. We have been working with a trainer for almost a year now, but have not seen a lot of improvement in her. I am still at a loss as to how to get her over this. We do know that she had been abused before we got her, so perhaps that has something to do with her behavior.


  7. My friend has a cat like this—dose this same thing work on cats?


    Minette Reply:

    It can 😉

    I avoid petting cats like this too 😉


  8. Kathi says:

    OMG! This describes my foster dog Jeffie J exactly! I didn’t know any other dog had the same problem. Jeffie will even crawl into my lap or next to me on bed, then turn and snap at me. He’s very jealous of other dogs in house (2 fosters and my own dog) as well, growling and snapping if they get close. They tolerate him most of the time. He is a “forever foster” as we cannot adopt him out like this. The interesting thing is that after 1 1/2 years he is improving. I usually cage him when other people are in house, but recently I babysat my 3 1/2 year niece with celebral palsy. He went right to her and she “petted” him (hard!) before I could get to him. He not only let her pet him but she pulled his beard and eyebrows and he was calm and continued to follow her around house.


  9. Jane says:


    My son’s three year old Labra-Doodle is very friendly, but a bit too friendly. She is constantly giving little licks when around you, which is quite annoying. The licks happen so quickly it is hard to isolate the behaviour. How should I react when I am over there? And what approach could I suggest to my son?



    Minette Reply:

    read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/caution-dog-control-licker/


  10. Belva Dalidowich says:

    My dog barks at everyone even if it is a person he knows who has been here before. In fact he barks until they go home. I’ve tried leashing him and keeping him next to me until the person goes home and that works. He doesn’t bark while next to me on a leash but that is a heck of a way to have a visit. He doesn’t care for treats so giving him food doesn’t help. I like to entertain but it is hard to entertain with a dog on a leash everywhere you go inside the house. He just seems to dislike people. He doesn’t bite or snap just barks until you could go insane. My grand daughter stayed four hours and He barked the entire time. She even walked him and he was good but as soon as they came back from the walk he started barking at her again.


  11. Marcella says:

    This is my 1 yr old Great Dane Thunder. He was great up to 6 months, just as you describe. It’s very frustrating for all involved. People don’t understand when you don’t let them pet your dog. The general question seems to be: why would I have him out if he is mean? He is not. He is though fearful and needs to know I have his back at all times. He does not like people looking him right in the eye in general and he seems to have a problem with movement.
    He will bite ankles and will nip at anyone mid pet even when he was welcoming at first. He has the most attitude with my kids 16 and 13 even as they just walk through the room. We have had lots of sets of paws through the house so they do not let him get away with it. They give a strong correction. NO! them praise when he is back to acting nicely.
    The worst part for me is the fact he is well trained, CGC and Therapy dog certified!
    The stronger the leader the better behaved. I was thinking of a muzzle as I do continue to take him out, the only reason I hesitate is his size as people are already surprised with that, the sight of him with a muzzle he will look wild. Question: Why a basket instead of a soft muzzle?
    He seems most happy when I take him out and just don’t let people touch him. Giant breed people that are sure of themselves he has been fine with and I do warn them beforehand. The big problem is of course when people come over. I got him to be my buddy and go with me everywhere/work etc. not so much as a guard dog…I hope this can be “fixed, or worked through” though I’m thinking I would be happy with managed at this point. Lots of $$$ in training!
    Thank you for the article! It was nice to find in my inbox!


    Minette Reply:

    Basket muzzles allow them to pant and breathe and you can even put treats in there.

    Nylon muzzles keep their mouths closed so they can’t breathe well and cool themselves… they are likely to overheat and die.

    Who cares what people think 😉 it is about keeping everyone safe 🙂


    Marcella Reply:

    I understand now! I have done some serious power reading of your links and I have just finished purchasing the muzzle you suggested through the link provided. Thank you!!


    marcella Reply:

    What kind of collar do you recommend with a Dane while using a basket muzzle?

  12. Barbara says:

    I rescued an owner surrendered cocker at 18 months old. They said she was not good w/ children and had seen a behaviorist and had basic obedience training. Gorgeous buff girl w/ blue eyes! However, I found out the hard way that she lunges and bites faces of children and men if they look her in the eyes and get close to her quickly. No warning beyond a second of stiffening and evil eye look at them. I tried a trainer who used a prong collar and electric shocks. Helped some, but the obvious pain he induced put me off his method. Regular trainers will not take her once I say she bites. Love her, she is great w/ me and women, an avid hunter, and somewhat diffident, tho she sleeps w/ me and will jump on my lap. Normally is off on her own, tho, which seems odd for a cocker (I have had several.) She will not stop until any muzzle comes off – very determined and strong.
    Has anyone developed a warning collar in yellow for touchy dogs?


  13. Catherine says:

    I have a bishon. I got him from the shelter for $10.00, but have spent alot of money on him (allergies and training). Within 30min. of getting him, I rushed to the pet store to get him some toys. I was paying for the toys and heard someone behind me grumbling. I said “Excuse me is there a problem”. He said “Get control of your dog he just bit me”. At that time my bishon weighed 6lbs., my first thought was “how bad could a 6lb. dog bite”. I have never had a dog that bit. When I was getting into my car a lady stopped behind me and said “Honey, don’t pay attention to that old grump”.

    However, HE IS what I call a ‘Chicken Biter’. His favorite thing is for you to pass by him and he then bites your calf. I took him to a training class, before the class started he and a puppy boxer were sniffing each other. I saw my dog jump just a little. The class started and all of a sudden the boxer’s owner said “There is blood coming out of my dogs mouth”. My dog had bitten the boxers tongue.

    He is perfect at home loves people and other dogs, but once you go out the door you can see his attitude change. When he sees a person or dogs he goes crazy. So after the not so successful training, I took him to a dog training business. He is highly trained, but still has the problem. Believe it or not the trainer had me put a german pincher collar on him. He told me my dog would strangle himself with a chain collar. The Gentle Leader slips off his muzzle because his face is so small and I don’t have control with a harness.

    However, once when I was in the hospital a friend took my dogs to her house. She keeps dogs for people. First she put my bishon in with her collies ‘No Problem’. She kept adding dogs, finally there were 16 dogs. He loved it, played with them and had fun.

    I don’t think he learned how to address dogs or people before I got him. I like your suggestion of the basket muzzle. I have not and will not stop trying to help him. Thanks!


  14. Eve says:

    I have an American Bulldog. She is the love of my life. I never
    ever believed I could love an animal as I do Chloe. She is loving, and full of energy and 90 lbs. of pure muscle. My concern with her is that she likes to stand up on her two back legs and jump on people, rather fall on people. She gets overly excited when a male enters the house. She pretty much wants to tear down the guard door before I can get it open by pawing on the door and such. I make her stand back over and over but as soon as the door is open she is right on that person. She exhibits this behavior with my granddaughter also (who is a mere
    98 lbs.) almost knocking her down. She has gone through training but it didn’t seem to stop this unwanted behavior. Now, I pretty much keep her separate and away from guests. Its an embarrassment because she will not stop or listen to my commands when she is in her thrill session. In particular it is at its worse when the male friend who comes to walk her appears on the porch. She almost tears his clothes off.
    She is not aggressive to other dogs when we are out walking or with people when we are out. But I wouldn’t trust her around
    children at all. Another thing is she is almost untouchable when it comes time to put the collar or leash on her. She falls down and rolls away as though it is a game. At times, she will put the leash in her mouth and won’t let go. She is quite a mess and some days I regret getting her. She will be 2 years old on two weeks. She was a monstrous puppy. Nipping all the time but that has gone away. We cuddle on the sofa during the day when I’m being a couch potato or reading my books. Otherwise, she likes to sit by my legs at all times when I’m at rest on the sofa or at the computer. Chloe is pretty much like my shadow. She follows me everywhere all day.
    I don’t mind that, but had to get use to it. Please give suggestion on how to stop the jumping on people thing. The vet gets the same welcome from her also. She nips at the groomers who cut her nails to close. I’m always afraid to drop her off. I’ve seen her grab a young lady by her wrist for
    cutting nails too close. thanks.


    Minette Reply:

    She is begging you for more exercise…. her energy level and physical exercise needs are not being met. She should be too tired to exhibit these behaviors… she needs a good run read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/exercise/

    AND, you need to use a leash and obedience. She needs to get used to being on leash often if not all of the time for a while. A leash gives you physical control, from there you need to work on obedience with her at least 3-5 times a day 10-15 minutes per session so she will listen to you.

    Once you meet her needs for physical and mental stimulation you will see her behaviors change and you will be able to control her.


  15. Patsy says:

    I have a 3 yr. old Shih Tzu that has several problems. One of which is he recently starting snapping and biting for no reason. If I can’t get this fixed I will have to get rid of him because I can’t have him biting my grandchildren…or anyone else for that matter. He seems to do it when someone gets close to his face. Today he did it to me. I need to know how to fix this quickly. He also picks on and bites one of my cats. He knows better but does it anyway. He would chase a cat forever which I want that to stop too. It may be he the breed. I’ve had golden retrievers previously and they are such sweethearts and I never had one chase a cat or snap or bite anyone. Guess I should have stuck with them instead of picking a smaller dog.


    Minette Reply:

    There probably is not a quick fix. Most severe behavior problems and aggression are not easily fixed, or able to be fixed. Sometimes it is more about control than being able to fix something. You are in need of the help from a veterinary behaviorist to see the behavior and be able to help you and keep your cat and grandchildren safe read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/recommend-veterinary-behaviorist-dog-trainer/


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