My dog bites! My dog bites! I hear this all the time, but when I dive down into the facts, it is rarely the case...
First of all, you have to understand the difference between a bite and a nip. I bite is where the dog will grab on to you, pull, shake, and tear away at what he has. I nip is there the dog will put his teeth on your skin and possibly create a puncture wound (holes in your skin). Understanding the difference between these two acts, a bite & a nip, is very important in understanding what the dog was actually doing and thinking.
A nip is a heightened warning to cease and desist whatever you are doing. Sometimes it might take place close to you, but sometimes it might occur with an actual nip on your skin. (Dogs don't understand that a nip on our skin hurts.) The dog is not trying to be aggressive, he is simply telling you that you really should stop what you are doing. It happens very quickly and the dog backs off immediately after doing it. It can also take place out of a quick reaction to fear. The important item to take away from this is that it is not an aggressive act but a communication of "I really don't want this to continue".
I bite is an act of aggression. Everything else has failed and the dog wants to "bring you down". It is a prolonged process of pulling, shaking, and tearing. The only way it normally ends is through a physical means of separation. This act shows a very high level of fearfulness and lack of a sense of safety by your dog. In our experience, under 5% of all the instances where our clients have said that their dog bit them or someone, that it actually was a bite.
Now, we have come to the conclusion that most "bites" are really "nips" that occur out of frustration or fear with no intent on the dog's part of aggression. I now want to talk about our experience regarding how the most "dangerous nip" takes place.
Our little dog, Fluffy, is happily asleep on the corner of the sofa. Our six year old daughter who loves and always plays with Fluffy decides that she wants to say "Hi" to Fluffy and have some playtime. She goes over to Fluffy, puts her nose just in front of Fluffy's nose, and says (in a high pitched voice) "Fluffy, Fluffy, Fluffy, Fluffy"!
Fluffy is startled (and frightened) from his sleep and responds with a nip indicating that he is scared. Unfortunately, our daughter's face is in the direct line of Fluffy's nip. Normally the nip sill occur on the cheek, eye brow, or nose. A lot of crying will entail from our daughter and Fluffy will retreat, unsure of what took place.
In some instances, we will then punish Fluffy for biting our daughter and our daughter might become fearful of dogs. A perfect storm of many bad actions just took place. Without going into all the details, simply do this:
Don't stick your face in front of a sleeping dog's face!
For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.