The following is an update from posts I’ve written in the past, introducing Dog Bite Prevention Week. Here’s what I’d love you to do this week–comment about “Dog bites I have known,” (sigh), or “How I prevented a bite about to happen.” So, so, SO many bites could be prevented if dog owners, dog lovers, and every one else had enough knowledge, and perhaps you can help add to that. Will it ever be possible to eliminate bites from our relationship with dogs? Will we humans ever stop yelling at each other, or stop slugging each other in a barroom brawl? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try.
Tell us your stories this week, in the belief that they just might have the power to prevent a bite from happening, and to help those who have had to deal with the aftermath when they do happen.
Here’s my story, from a post several years ago, along with my advice about preventing bites:
A million years ago, my first Border Collie Drift leapt up and nipped a man’s nose at the Wisconsin State Fair. Even though the man was clearly not injured, with virtually not even a red spot on his nose, I was shook up and appalled. He was furious. “Your dog attacked me!”
Well, he did. Just because the man wasn’t injured didn’t mean he didn’t feel attacked. And it didn’t mean that I didn’t feel horrible. Drift and I were about to perform in front of huge crowd by doing a sheep herding demo, and found ourselves jammed into a crowd against the building wall. The gentlemen in question charged up to Drift, grabbed his face in his hands, and yes, you guessed it, bent down to kiss Drift on the nose. It was the same exact context in which newscaster Kyle Dyer was bitten by a Dogo a few months ago. In some ways, everything was different: Kyle was badly injured and it was recorded on video tape for all the world to see. And in one way, everything was the same: A stranger grabs a dog’s head in his/her hands and looms over to kiss a dog on the nose. Just like David Letterman was bitten on camera years ago. Just like how many people are bitten every year?
I find myself thinking of this at the beginning of Dog Bite Prevention Week, which runs this year from April 10-16. It’s an important topic and I’m in complete support of efforts to raise awareness and prevent dog bites. The figures bandied about are that there are about 4.5-4.7 million dog bites each year in the US (but see Dogs Bite but Balloons and Slippers are More Dangerous...). Given that that figure appears to include events in which there was no injury whatsoever, the number is undoubtedly on the high side, but as described above, they can still be deeply upsetting, and we all should be working to decrease them.
There is a lot of good, standard information out there about preventing dog bites. The AVMA has a good website on bite prevention, as does the ASPCA. There is lots of good advice on these sites, especially related to keeping children from being bitten (the most common recipient of a dog bite appears to be a child from the ages of 5 to 9). However, much of it is general: pick a good puppy, train your dog, have a fenced yard, teach children to ask first, etc.
This is all good information, but we all know that no list is enough to prevent many of the bites that occur. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep up our efforts. Here’s my list, which builds on the standard advice and adds my own observations and experience, I’m counting on you to add to it:
1. Leashes Aren’t Muzzles. (Neither are muzzles for that matter.) In other words, keeping your dog on a leash won’t prevent him from biting someone. Sometimes leashes can precipitate bites if a dog is nervous and feels trapped. I’ve been overwhelmed by clients who believed that if their dog was attached by a leash, or even if they were close to their dog, that they could prevent a bite. We can prevent lots of bites from happening, but not always with leashes and proximity. When people miss signals of discomfort or tension in their dogs, they end up trying to stop a bite after it has begun. Stopping a dog in mid-air, within the micro-second required, to observe, evaluate and respond is far beyond the skill level of most people. People rarely say or think “I’m being bitten.” By the time you figure out what’s happened, it’s over. Far better to understand both context and behavior to prevent a bite long before your dog even thinks about it. And my comment about muzzles? Dogs can still hurt people, even with a muzzle on. There are lots of ways to lower the risk, but there’s no magic out there. Based on all this, you can predict my next point:
2. Learn to Read Dogs, and Teach Others What You Know. Recall Michele Wan’s research that showed the dog owning public is not very good at reading signs of negative emotions in dogs (fear, anxiety, etc.). Thus, we all need to do what we can to help educate everyone around us. It’s not helpful for us to pull our hair and roll our eyes about how bad people are at reading dogs, and how often they behave in ways that simply beg a dog to bite them. That just makes us right, and being right gets us one thing and one thing only: Being Right. That’s not going to decrease the number of dog bites out there, so we need to use our knowledge to help others. If you’re a trainer, get yourself on television, give out handouts, refer people to materials and websites that will help them translate dog. There is plenty of information out there. Needless to say I have my own at my website, (including “Lost in Translation,” a day-long seminar on how dogs use sight, sound and smell to communicate that you can stream on demand) and there are many other great books and DVDs available through Dogwise.
3. Understand Context: This contains a vast range of issues, from what tends to scare dogs in general (strangers grabbing their heads and trying to kiss their noses, surely a problem we can all understand–want a strange man to grab your head and smash his face into your own?), what scares each dog as an individual, and how the context itself can add risk. My Border Collie Drift was trapped and overwhelmed, as was the Dogo that bit Ms. Dyer. I’ve had numerous clients whose dogs bit someone after a long, exhausting day. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard about dogs who were “just wonderful” with all the children at the picnic all afternoon and evening long until … In hind sight the owner’s tell me “They should have known how tired their dog was…”. Yes, they should have, but we need to help spread the word that even good dogs can get grumpy too when they are exhausted. And when they are overwhelmed. Or scared. Or a tad tweaked about life at the moment.
4. Practice Interventions and Use Them When Necessary. This is where I went wrong all those years ago. If I was in that same situation now I would have never have allowed that man to get that close to Drift. I would have moved between him and Drift before he could have grabbed Drift’s face and leaned down to kiss him. Body Blocks work really, really well on people, and can be used to avoid a great many risky situations.
Just a few days ago I was at a pet store that allows dogs and saw an owner use a body block perfectly. He had an adult Rottie, a lovely, happy-faced dog, who was approached by a squiggly, squirmy Golden Retriever puppy. The puppies’ owner let her dog dash toward the Rottie until they sniffed nose to nose. We were in tight quarters at the check out line. The Rottie had no where to back up into, and the enthusiastic puppy was about to jump onto his head. Wisely, the owner stepped quickly between the dogs, moved toward the puppy a step or two to move him away and then turned and smooched to his dog to follow him.
I turned to the pup’s owner, who had appeared surprised at what had happened and seemed a little bit put out. I thought perhaps I could use this as a teaching moment, and explained “I think the Rottie might have been a tad bit uncomfortable with your pup.” I hope she understood my point, but I can’t say, because the Rottie’s owner turned to me and said, defensively, “He is a LOVELY dog, he is NOT aggressive.” Ah, and I thought he was a lovely dog myself, but I also noted that the owner was wise enough to know that any dog might react to a rude pup in that context, and quick as a wink did a body block. Huzzah! and Yay! for him I say. Even lovely dogs have contexts in which they are uncomfortable, and more power to us when we know what they are.
5. The World’s Most Dangerous Words Are “I Think It’ll Be Okay.” I asked a salesman once if the hardware I was about to buy would stay attached to a wall if a 150 pound dog lunged against it with all of his power. “I think so,” the guy said. This is when red flags should fly and the noises generated by the alarm systems of nuclear power plants should start pounding into your ears. “Think it’s okay” is just not good enough when you are talking about a potential dog bite. I tell clients whose dogs are at risk of biting that we first, before talking about treatment, need to create the kind of risk management system included in submarines and power plants. If you’re not sure if your dog is 100% stable in a situation and you find yourself saying “I think it’ll be okay” without a careful and thoughtful risk analysis, I want you to hear AH OOOGA, AH OOOGA blasting in your ear. You want to hear “I KNOW it will be okay,” or given that life is never 100% predictable, “The probability of my dog hurting or scaring someone is less than .01 of one percent, and I’m willing to take that risk.” Whatever you decide, it should be very thoughtful, based on a lot of knowledge and be very, very conservative. Bites can be horrible for everyone, including the dog, and once they happen you’re in a entirely different context. It’s never a good one.
Please, please add to this with your wisdom, stories, and knowledge. Let’s make it the Dog Bite Prevention Decade!
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Two sunny days in a row over the weekend! We were beginning to forget what it was like to need sunglasses. At least we’ve been getting some much needed moisture, but we were all starting to mold.
My photos for this post are not from the farm, however. Jim and I were lucky enough to get another trip this winter to Arizona. (If two trips this winter sound like an indulgence, believe me, it felt like that to me too.) We spent most of our time at the Casa de San Pedro alongside the San Pedro River. It’s a bed and breakfast (oh oh oh, the breakfasts!) that caters especially to bird watchers and bicycle tour groups.
The highlight of the trip for me was meeting the good folks of the Southeast Arizona Audubon Society while they were banding hummingbirds. This handsome Rufous Hummer was the first bird they caught, and after banding I got to be the one to hold him in my palm while he recovered until flying away. It was magical.
This is Sheri L. Williamson, who was the Master Bander and actually did write the definitive book on Hummingbirds for the Peterson Field Guide Series. She is one of the country’s forement experts on hummers, and I can’t believe I got to meet her, along with some wonderful volunteers, Karen and Rebecca. You’d better believe I got the book autographed.
Here’s another of my favorite Arizona birds, the Road Runner. Yes, there really are Road Runners, and no, they don’t look like the one in the cartoon, but they can indeed run like the wind. Beep beep. The Cornell Bird Lab says they can outrace a human and kill a rattlesnake, so maybe the cartoon bird isn’t so far off. This individual entertained us while eating outside at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains.
Sooo many birds I love in Arizon! (Where I grew up by the way.) Here’s another favorite, one of the many Gambel’s Quail who fed at the feeders outside of the Casa.
If you can stand one more, here’s a male Vermillion Flycatcher. The boys were out in force along the San Pedro River banks, catching the sun with their electric red feathers. We saw lots of them, and it was never enough. Flycatchers, however, aren’t quite as easy to photograph, so this one isn’t Audubon worthy, but hopefully good enough.
I promise there were other things we did besides bird watch, including wonderful hikes within Ramsey Canyon, looking at gorgeous views from the Coronado National Monument, and exploring fantastic gardens in Tuscon, including Tohono Chuli and the Tucson Botanical Garden. Here’s a view from the Coronado Nat’l Monument. (There’s no monument! But fantastic scenery.)
Overall, it was a fantastic trip. But I have to admit, it didn’t take long for me to miss the dogs and look forward to going home. Dorothy was right.
Now, your turn: Dog bites! Ever had to deal with one? Your best ideas about how to prevent? We all need to work together to decrease the number of bites in the world, so join in and help out like only you can!
Emily Sieger says
Suzanne Clothier’s now-classic “HE JUST WANTS TO SAY HI” was the first piece I read that opened my eyes. Her discussion of Cream, a lovely older GR and an annoying puppy is so on-point https://suzanneclothier.com/shop/just-wants-say-hi/
Yes, my brand new to me rescue dog bit my sister and our relationship, never stellar, will never recover.
The dog, same dog as I have now, was with me a week before my dad died. The plan was for me to drive there with the dog and for my husband to come right before the funeral and drive back with us.
I had spent the week before driving with the dog on errands, introducing her to my friends and their dogs, and I thought she was doing great although I knew if you stared too hard at her, she would begin barking. I had a wonderful positivectrainer come to the house who told me she was fearful and a slow greeter.
After 2 days of 8 hours a day of travelling, we were happy to be at our hotel.. My sister greeted us and left us alone to unpack. I brought her over to my sister’s room to visit and all went well. She threw treats until the dog willingly went up to her for treats and pets.. I thought all was good..
The next morning, the dog and I went downstairs for a pee break before breakfast. This is when things started going wrong. I see it now.
My sister was already downstairs. Wanted to be greeted by the dog. The dog did not want to come close. I encouraged the dog to come closer. I did not read the dog’s communications. The dog did not want to come closer.
I just took her to the corner, instead of the walk and pee we had been starting our days with, since we had got the dog.. Then i lead her to my sister. She didnt want to greet her. My sister threw snacks. The dog didnt want them. My sister got down on her hands and knees pointing out the snacks on the ground. She, moved toward the dog. The dog bit her on the shoulder, twice. If she didn’t have a heavy sweatshirt on, she would have drawn blood. Instead she had two big bruises
I offered to take her to get checked out. She refused, ostensibly to protect the dog. Since then, she’s called my dog unreliable and now believes all pitbulls can’t be trusted. Oh and she says she has lasting nerve damage. And, when she’s angry at me, she often is, says my dog, should be put down.
Again, I now see how I could have prevented this in so many ways but the fact remains that I failed my dog and now have a dog with a bite record. And I also think now she is more willing to bite. We had the trainer over again and she startled during a setup when the trainer came around the corner.
I’ve done muzzle training, worked on emergency u turns and only walk her when the neighborhood is quiet. She doesn’t get walked as much as my previous dog because she is not as soothing to walk. I can’t meet friendsxatcaxparkcto walk with her. Shell never be an off leash dog because we need better control of her interactions. I am a member of many Facebook groups for owners of reactive dogs and am constantly working on building her trusting me.
Robin Budd says
My dog bit the plumber in the butt. Funny – not funny. Fortunately it was more of a herding nip and wasn’t at all serious but still. Entirely my fault. My dog was on-leash but I leaned past the plumber to unlock a door. My dog is territorial and badly wanted to usher the stranger away. Lesson learned.
Love the article!! Been in cocker rescue since 1998. Wonder why so many cockers bite?
Learn to Read Dogs!!
Well, this is difficult for pet owners with cocker spaniels! They have no tails to speak of, their ears are so heavy that they don’t really pin back, their backs are shaved so hackles don’t show, their big round eyes hide the warning whites. So we’ve basically removed every signal they could use to show you that they wish you would back off so they don’t bite you! Even when they don’t really want to bite you. There are other signals of course, frozen stance, etc, that experts know, but most pet owners miss them.
Another breed that is too cute for its own good at times.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard to help prevent dog bites is (surprise!) from one of Trisha’s books, but I can’t remember which one. It is this (paraphrased): do not punish growling. Growling is communication, and if a dog is punished for communicating verbally, it will communicate physically.
That’s it. Just remembering that simple rule has prevented multiple bites in my experience. One example: my eleven-year-old dog telling my seven-year-old son that he really does NOT want that 17th burr removed from his tail right now, thank you very much! My son–and his love for the dog–are still in one piece. Another example: the stressed out rescue shih tzu telling me he didn’t know me well enough to give up his comforting plush squeaky toy.
In both cases, we backed off, treated, redirected, and came back later to try the original task with successful results. And no biting.
Chris from Boise says
Our dear departed Pica, a red heeler, was never a fan of kids. We were more ignorant at the time (1990s) than we knew, and like Shar, now recognize our mistakes. When she was about 5, she came along on a week long camping/canoeing adventure with my brother and family (4 year old and 7 year old children). After making sure (hah!) the kids knew not to bother Pica, she did surprisingly well – until several days on, at the end of a day on the river when everyone was tired and not at our most quick-witted. We were unloading the canoes when we heard a scream from the 4 year old. “She bit me!” It transpired that the temporarily unsupervised at-the-end-of-her-rope-from-exhaustion youngster had been chasing the equally unsupervised at-the-end-of-her-frayed-nerves dog. When she was grabbed, Pica whipped around and snapped, grazing the end of the child’s nose. It was traumatic for all of us. Looking back, I am so impressed at Pica’s bite inhibition under duress – it could have been so, so much worse! – and am so sorry that we put both of them in an untenable position. We learned a lot of lessons that afternoon.
Fortunately, the little girl did not become dog-phobic, and I’m happy to report that, 25 years later, she has recently adopted her first dog and is doing a fabulous job with him.
Over the years I have learned to advocate for my dogs. I do not let people or strange dogs approach.
I respect my dog telling me loud and clear ‘NO THANK YOU’.
I verbally thank and praise my dog if she growls and I add space to whatever the trigger was.
People need to to stop expecting dogs to be perfect at everything and start listening when they speak.
I was bitten by my 2.5 year old German Shepherd on my arm when getting in my car with him in the back. He is my 6th German Shepherd and I have never been bitten before. He is a high drive puppy that I got at 9 weeks old and has become very reactive since he fractured his femur at about a year old and was hospitalized for 4 days for surgery/recovery. I have worked with 3 trainers and although he is better I still am surprised by some of his triggers. He is muzzle trained and managed very carefully around people and other dogs. He has not bitten anyone but me and I’m hoping I can find solutions because it is a very difficult and frustrating situation.
Beth Tuohy says
When I first began working with my reactive beagle mix I didn’t quite understand the level of her arousal when reacting to another dog. I had treats for our walks to distract and lure and reward her for paying attention to me and not another dog. There was still so much to learn about management. When a puppy/adolescent ran up to us across the street from our house I picked up my dog! And, predictable she bit me. A puncture from her canine tooth that bled freely was my injury. I carried her across the street and away from the young dog I feared she would hurt. I never tried that again!
While I can’t prevent all reactivity we’ve come a long way using various techniques to manage her reactivity. No more bites have occurred.
Reading Trisha’s original piece on over-tired dogs has saved me from many air snaps – my dogs have excellent bite inhibition and it would take a lot to push them into actually biting, but they definitely get snarky when tired and stressed. And understanding trigger stacking and how long stress hormones can take to clear the body has also helped – I only have to consider how quickly I get snappy when I am rushed and stressed. With puppy Freddy the effects of too much stimulation and over tiredness were immediately obvious as he went from happy and amenable pup to frazzled whirling dervish. It only happened a few times as I quickly learned his limits, but it’s easy to see how to someone new to babies the behaviour might look like a puppy in need of more exercise, more play, more everything to wear him out, rather than a quiet time in a comfy bed.
“Learn to Read Dogs, and Teach Others What You Know.” Amen!! After many years of rescue and teaching obedience training, I no longer care if people are offended when I say, “She is going to bite you…him…her…!” I understand that what seems so clear to me simply doesn’t register with many people. The worst bite I ever received was entirely my own fault. I picked up a poodle who was walking down the middle of a somewhat busy street. He allowed me to snatch him up and read the tag on his collar. I took him to his house to find nobody was home. A helpful neighbor told me to just leave the dog in his yard. I did, making sure the gate was closed, then realized his collar was half off. I went back into the yard to fix that and little fat poodle turned into guard dog. He delivered several deep bites up my arm. Yep… my fault. I believe in being overly cautious with my own three rescues when people are visiting us. Two of them are very friendly, but my grandkids are young, so all dogs are crated when the children visit. Jax (born feral and has serious trust issues) puts himself in his crate when anyone he doesn’t know really well comes to the house. Dusty has bad hips and bad knees. She adores the kids, but I’m afraid if one of them fell on her, she would snap. Brody loves the whole family, but at 153 lbs., his potential to knock over little folks is great. Better safe than sorry is my mantra!
Minnesota Mary says
I was doing a temperament test on a husky being surrendered to the rescue. The dog was wound up, but performed OK. Not great, but OK. When the test was almost done, I asked for a collar so I could better handle the dog. While they were searching for a collar, I turned to the dog, who lunged and bit my hand. His fang punctured my hand and I was bleeding quite a lot. By this time, they had found the (too small) collar and rushed to get me a paper towel so I wouldn’t bleed all over their house. I left and called the rescue to say we would not be accepting this owner surrender because of the bite. That evening it occurred to me to inquire about the dog’s rabies vaccination status. When I called the people who owned the dog, I was assured that he had been fully vaccinated. Something didn’t feel right to me, so I asked for their vet info. They gave it to me and I called the next morning. The dog had had one of the distemper series but never came back for the rest of the series, or the rabies vaccine. Now we have a serious problem. The savvy vet tech with whom I was talking told me that she could not give me any medical advice, but if she were in that situation, she would definitely go see her doctor TODAY. I did make an appointment with my doc, who told me that the incidence of rabies in dogs in the U.S. is low, but there was still risk. He didn’t want to start me on an unnecessary course of rabies vaccines and suggested that the dog be quarantined for 3 weeks. All ended up well. No rabies was detected by the vet after 3 weeks and the dog was returned to the breeder. In this case, the dog (other than being wound up because someone was visiting) exhibited no warning that I could see before he lunged and bit. It appeared to be a playful nip gone horribly wrong. Most likely he was reacting to me taking attention away from him while I was interacting with his owners asking for a collar. By the way, the too small collar was an indication that this year-old husky had not been taken for a walk in so long that he had outgrown his collar. Huskies are, of course, a working breed that needs a lot of exercise. I’m actually no slouch when it comes to recognizing impending bites, having fostered for two rescues for over 15 years. My best resource, that I recommend often is “On Talking Terms with Dogs – Calming Signals”. It’s a small book, mostly filled with pictures. I still pick it up and browse through it occasionally. https://smile.amazon.com/Talking-Terms-Dogs-Calming-Signals/dp/1929242360/ref=sr_1_1?crid=RQURR2XBP034&keywords=on+speaking+terms+with+dogs&qid=1649855323&sprefix=on+speaking+terms%2Caps%2C233&sr=8-1
When my now 14 yo English Shepherd was an adolescent, he bit me during a reactive episode focused at another dog. It was the first, and LAST!, time I ever tried him in a prong collar.
Fast forward many years to yesterday; we were leaving his acupuncture/laser treatment yesterday and as we were walking to the front desk, we were greated by a Bernese Mountain Dog charging up to us at the end of a 6ft leash. Body language indicated it truly just wanted to say hi but even with my dog being older and ‘over’ his reactivity, I never allow on leash greetings and especially not at a crowded veterinary office.
I body blocked the other dog and backed mine up. Luckily, the other dog ran out of leash and the owner came and got it. Mine did not react and didn’t even seem to notice the other dog but he still got rewarded for dealing with the situation appropriately.
J. Hass says
Dogs bursting out of backyards seems to be my bad luck. Most times, no harm done. But on three separate occasions while on on-leash, normal suburban neighborhood walks we’ve been bloodied by this – me and the dogs. All required emergency room visits. How do you prevent this? There’s no time to react, all I could do is register oh-no-big-dog-running-at-us. And none of the owners took responsibility either, even though all three times someone was present (at least afterwards). My neighbor started carrying pepper spray on dog walks, but it always happens so quickly, I don’t think I would have had time to use it.
I was seriously bitten when I was 12. To be correct, I was bitten (attacked) by the dog and received 4 bites, only one bite requiring 14 stitches! I managed to get away from the dog but lost my shirt in the process. I was at fault. Us kids were playing baseball and one of us hit the ball over the fence 2 yards over. I didn’t even know there was a dog in the yard. I climbed the fence and walked to the ball in the center of the yard when I saw the dog walking up behind me, no bark, no growl, I turned and said “nice doggie” or something to that effect. That was it, the dog was on me like nothing I have ever experienced before, like I said the first bite was the worst and left a gaping hole in by biceps, the rest were a blur. I was screaming and a fast runner and was able to get out of the yard with an additional 3 more bites that caused bruising, I was really shook. As children we were always warned not to go into yards with dogs, in this case the dog never even barked or came out to let me know he was there. I was at fault, I had no right to go into his territory, honestly if I knew he was there I would have never entered the yard. That was 50 years ago! No law suit, my parents reminded me not to go into strange yards, the owners of the dog (coon dog) apologized to my mom, the health department had to be called and that was it. I learned a valuable lesson that day! Be aware, not just of dogs but of my surroundings. I still love dogs, and the scar…makes for an interesting story and helps me to educate my young family members about safety.
We had to brothers, Spot and Shadow. Shadow, dark and bi-eyed, looks scary but is a star with kids. Spot was a bit more uncomfortable with them, so we made sure that any interaction was short and pleasant and that he had enough space. One day we had friends visiting who were staying overnight. In the morning I discovered a huge wound in Spot’s groin. Still not sure what happened. I went to the vet straight away. Later that day, Spot was lying in his basket, not on the best of form. We were sitting outside, with our friends and the kids, two girls of around 10 years old at that time. The youngest has something special with animals, she just seems to know how to handle them, but the other has a form of autism and has a kind of ‘black and white behaviour’ in that once she start doing something, she just continues. We were sitting outside and she went in to the toilet and on the way back started petting Spot. Not the ‘quick pet when walking by’ her sister did, but getting down on the ground and getting close and not stopping. Next minute she cried out. Spot had bitten her on the nose. No damage to be seen, but it just shows how quick these things can go wrong. We were not watching the interaction between kid and dog, well we actually had not expected it because she was kind of scared of them the day before. Luckily the parents were very down to earth and just commented “well, it seems you have done something that made the dog uncomfortable, next time do not bother him when he is in his own basket” – which by the way also helped her not getting scared. Unfortunately Spot learned from this and one other interaction, that any situation he was uncomfortable in, could quickly be solve by ‘going for the nose’ so we had to be very observant with him when it came to children, especially kids that came running up to greet him. I got to be quite an expert at body blocks. A couple of weeks ago I had quite an opposite experience with Shadow. He has always liked kids, loves to examine them and give kisses. He is so vert gentle. We were out on a ski tour and we met a grandmother with a small child, I think about one-and-a-half years old. Grandma was sitting next to him, he was enthralled with Shadow. Gently petting him, Shad was nuzzling when suddenly the boy decided he wanted to hug him and just threw himself at Shad. Shadow just jumped back. I was so proud of my rock solid boy but it did show me how quickly these things can happen. I was standing on skies, so no way I could respond quickly and grandma was also to slow. Lesson learned: with the really small kiddies, I just *have* to be on the ground as well, able to interfere if necessary.
I’m always amazed that our shelter dogs bite as little as they do, considering the stress they are under. I was taking a young female out who gets very wound up by the other dogs barking. There is one point where I have to navigate two doors that are very close to a kennel wall. The dog inside the kennel was barking loudly, Woody was barking and trying to get around the corner to the kennel, and I was trying to get Woody inside the other door without stepping on her foot or catching her on the closing door. We made it, but as she came through she grabbed my pants leg. The door closed, the noise dropped, and she immediately released and we hustled out to the outside.
My skin wasn’t marked, and my jeans didn’t show a hole. It was clearly a hard time for Woody, and she redirected on me, but still restrained herself. And she is an anomaly. I’ve taken many dogs out, and a lot of them get very worked up in this spot (it’s an old shelter, and this is one of the only times I’ve had a redirection.
Your Drift story reminds me of my dog Hank, now departed. He put up with nose kissing from family but not strangers (and really, no one should have to). I was staying at a dog trial and I had a very experienced dog person over to the trailer. She was sitting and petting Hank and he was snuggling up ever closer to her face, and I instinctively said “Don’t kiss his nose, he doesn’t like it”. She said “I would NEVER! He’s clearly saying no with his eyes”. Yes, he was leaning in to her for petting, but that was still his space bubble right around his face and his eyes were still on “Don’t trust you that much, but ok to pet me”.