Ah, the mythical biting beast. An image of a vicious hound we cannot imagine in our own dog. Leading owners to ignore and deny the fact that their dog has bitten.
The fact is, that all dogs are capable of biting and lots of them do! I decided to concentrate on dogs that bite and what to do. Well, it is essential that you do something. Never, ever let a bite, nip, snap at the air, go without being dealt with. Here are tips and thoughts on how you should approach what could develop into a really dangerous habit.
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*The podcast this week contains one expletive within the first 10 minutes*
Dogs that bite
I wanted to deal with some of the things we often hear spoken about dogs that bite, might bite, have bitten repeatedly. It’s really important to look at this as an issue that can affect all of us!
There are aspects of dog ownership, the law, as parents of our children and of course, as good citizens, that we need to know and can perhaps help communicate to the wider world when we can.
‘My dog would never bite’
Every dog is capable of biting. We of course trust some dogs to choose another alternative than biting but never forget that all dogs can do it. The odds are that every single dog would bite under certain circumstances, sometimes these circumstances might be more extreme than others. Remember that what a dog judges to be a threat may be different from our own judgement. Just as we as nice citizens do not naturally go round punching or kicking people, does not mean that we are not capable of it if we were fighting for our lives! Always remember then, that a dog bite is possible. Once we face this, we can deal with the potential problems that might arise as honestly and calmly as possible. It also helps give all our dogs the best chance at survival, since statistically, more dogs are euthanised as a result of behaviour problems than for any other reason when taken to their Vet.
‘My puppy biting is going to turn aggressive’
It is really important to understand that puppies bite as a means of exploration as well as play. It can also mean ‘go away’! Pups all need to learn that clothing, hands, feet, face, are out of bounds when it comes to biting. You must not scare or punish the puppy in order to teach it. Why? Because this teaches the puppy that people are unpredictable, scary creatures! Instead, teach puppy that it’s simply no fun. It’s not part of the game. If you watch puppies together, they do an awful lot of jaw-wrestling and grabbing at each other. It’s normal. Nevertheless in today’s world, it is unacceptable for them to do this to people. You can learn more about Puppy Biting on my ‘Ouch! Stop Play Biting’ download (scroll down the options on that page to find it).
A huge resource for puppy help can be also found at Ian and Kelly Dunbar’s brilliant site, www.dogstardaily.com
Other important issues about biting we discuss as part of the podcast (the below notes will be expanded into a full article soon, probably this weekend when I am less busy in my behaviour practice)
‘It was only a nip’
‘My dog has bitten a few times but he’s not aggressive’
What does an aggressive dog look like?
Are there ‘aggressive’ breeds? Can we trust statistics?
When does biting become a problem?
Has your dog bitten someone?
Don’t panic! Post op/pain/panic/old age/puppy – no need to rush them straight to the dog pound or the Vets for the dreaded ‘PTS’
Always get a dog bite looked at as they can easily become infected. If it is you that got bitten by someone else’s dog – take photos.
For the dog – what can you do?
Do take action – IMMEDIATELY
Nipping it in the bud
Changing to a positive mindset – not one of denial
Biting and the law
Biting – and even a scratch from your dog – represents an aggravated offence under part of the Dangerous Dogs Act
Even if your dog was fighting with another dog and ‘accidental’ bite happens to a person – it is still an aggravated offence.
In summary – take it seriously, but take it calmly. A biting dog may not be its death-knell.