A study came out last year from the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science listing the most common reasons that people give for surrendering their dogs to shelters.
They list behavior (specifically, biting) at number 10. There is an argument to be made that the percentage of animals relinquished for behavior issues is much higher than this. Continue reading
Your dog bites. Whose fault is it?
I can tell you whose fault it isn’t – mine. And it’s not my assistant’s fault. So please don’t get pissy with me when I tell you that I’m going to have to muzzle your dog. I don’t muzzle many dogs; I find that with low-stress techniques we can usually de-escalate the biting and snapping and actually make the visit bearable even for very anxious dogs. But sometimes a dog is too big to control well, or the owner is very tentative and afraid of the dog, and I’m not sure I can keep someone from being bitten. Or, after many years of doing this, I recognize the signs of stress in your dog and I know he’s about to lose it (and no, he hasn’t growled yet). Out comes the muzzle.
No, I’m not hurting him. No, he’s not like this because he was abused as a puppy (I buy that this is a temperament or personality issue, but not abuse. You’ve owned him since he was 7 weeks old). No, he’s not dominant. He’s never growled before? Hmm. I seem to recall this behavior last time I saw him. He’s a “talker”, but never bites? Your son just said the dog bit your new girlfriend. That must have been an exception.
Enough excuses. You have had many opportunities over the years to address this and you haven’t. You came in today for a routine wellness visit. I don’t have, right now, the hour it will take to condition your dog to some of the procedures I need to do. You have consistently declined help from trainers and behaviorists, so I don’t have a choice. If you won’t recognize the problem and take steps to protect other people, I have to. On goes the muzzle.