What to Do If Your Dog Bites Someone

Once a dog bites, will they bite again? As Training Editor Pat Miller explains, you have four main options after your dog bites someone.


There are few things quite as disconcerting as having your own dog bite you. I can recall with crystal clarity the time our Scottie nailed me in a classic case of redirected aggression. He had taken an intense dislike to a Labrador Retriever who had entered the room, and when I touched him on his back to try to distract him, he whirled around and redirected his aroused state, and his substantial Scottish Terrier teeth, at my hand.

Despite the horror stories of free-roaming Pitbulls mauling children as they walk to school, the majority of dog bites occur in the owner’s home. The majority of dog bite victims are friends or members of the owner’s family. Sixty-one percent of dog bites occur in the home or a familiar place, and 77 percent of bite victims are family members or friends, according to attorney Kenneth Phillips, who specializes in dog bite cases. A relatively small percentage of bites are inflicted by errant stray dogs. This means that most bites leave a shocked owner feeling betrayed by his loyal canine, and wondering whether he can ever trust his four-footed friend again.

Why Do Dogs Bite?

Why did your sweet dog bite you? All dogs can bite, and given differing circumstances, all dogs will. Although we humans regard any bite as aggression, for dogs, biting is a natural and normal means of canine communication and defense. It’s actually surprising that our dogs don’t bite us more often than they do!

Aggression and bites are generally caused by stress, which can come from a variety of sources. Some dogs have high bite thresholds – it takes a lot of stressors to make them bite. Some have low thresholds – it doesn’t take much to convince them to bite. A dog with a high bite threshold may seem like the best choice around kids. This is often true, but if noisy, active children are very stressful to the dog, even a high-threshold dog might bite them. Conversely, a dog who has a low bite threshold may be a fine child’s companion if children are not one of his stressors, and if he is kept in an environment that is free of the things that are stressors for him.

Pain, fear, anxiety, arousal – any kind of threat to the dog’s well-being can be considered a stressor. A timid dog whose space is trespassed upon will retreat, but if prevented from retreating, will bite out of fear. A mother with pups whose space is trespassed upon may feel threatened by the intrusion, and bite. A resource-guarder bites because he is offended (stressed) by his perception that the human might take a possession. The bite often resolves the situation for the dog and relieves his stress, which is why a dog may bite in one instant and seem fine the next. When the resource-guarder bites, the human (generally) withdraws; with the threat to his food bowl gone, the dog is perfectly calm and happy again. Wounds to the human victim’s skin often heal far more quickly than the breach in the relationship between dog and human. This is unfortunate, because the majority of bites are perfectly justified – from the dog’s point of view – although often misunderstood by the human.

If humans better understood dogs, we would realize it’s about behavior, not trust. Many biting dogs could easily remain in their homes and lead long and happy lives, with a low risk for a second bite, if their owners only understood how to identify and minimize their dogs’ stressors.

What to Do If Your Dog Bites Someone

If your dog bites, you have at least four options:

  • Manage his behavior to prevent him from ever biting again
  • Implement a comprehensive behavior modification program
  • Rehome the dog
  • Have the dog euthanized

1. Manage his behavior to prevent him from ever having the opportunity to bite again.

While difficult, this is possible. It means greatly restricting his movements so he has no access to humans, other than adult family members. If company comes over, the dog is crated in a closed room. If the grandkids visit, he is crated or sent to a kennel that is equipped to safely handle a biting dog. Even if he adores the grandkids, the fact that he has bitten puts them at unacceptable risk. Unless you are 100 percent confident that you know what his stressors are and can prevent them from occurring during the kids’ visit, you cannot take the chance.

Of course, selecting this option means a reduced quality of life – no more walks in the park, on or off leash; no more rides in the car; and no more spending hours on his own in the fresh air and sunshine in the fenced backyard.

2. Manage his behavior to prevent him from biting while you implement a comprehensive behavior modification program. This requires a serious commitment.

If your dog’s behavior is relatively new and mild, you may be able to accomplish this on your own. (See “4 Steps to Modify Aggressive Dog Behavior,” below.)

Most owners, however, need the (sometimes costly) help of an experienced, positive behavior counselor or behaviorist to help them succeed. The behavior professional will help identify your dog’s stressors, and set up a program to use desensitization and counter-conditioning to convince him that the things he now perceives as “bad” (stressors) are really “good.” If he changes his perception, they will no longer cause him stress, and they won’t push him over his bite threshold.

This doesn’t happen overnight. The longer your dog has practiced his aggression responses, the longer it takes to modify them. The more committed you are to working with him, the more opportunities he will have to reprogram his responses and the faster it will happen. Meanwhile, he must be crated or kenneled while visitors or grandkids are at the house, and not taken for walks, car rides, nor left to his own devices in the backyard.

3. Rehome him with a new owner who is willing and able to do one of the first two.

Rehoming a dog that bites is a long shot. Depending on the circumstances of the bite and the dog’s general nature, some dogs who have bitten may be accepted into training programs for government drug or bomb-sniffing dogs, or as police K9 units. Your average adoption home, however, is no better equipped than you to make the commitment necessary to safely keep a biting dog. Most rescue groups will not accept dogs who have a history of biting, and shelters that do accept them will often euthanize, rather than take the risk (and the liability) of placing them in a new home.

If you rehome him yourself, you risk having the dog fall into the hands of someone who will punish him severely for biting, or otherwise not treat him well. You may even continue to bear some liability, moral if not also legal, should the dog do serious damage to someone at his new home.

There are millions of dogs looking for homes who haven’t bitten anyone. You love your dog and are trying to rehome him. What are your chances of finding someone to adopt him who is willing to take the risk of bringing home a biting dog?

4. Have the dog euthanized.

This is never a happy outcome. Still, you need to think long and hard about this dog’s quality of life. If you can only manage his behavior, will he be happy, or miserable, being shut out of the activities he loves? Can you guarantee that the home you find for him will treat him well? Once a dog bites, will he bite again?

If you can manage and modify, and still maintain your own quality of life as well as his, by all means, that is the best choice. But if not, remember that aggression is caused by stress, and stress is not an enjoyable state of being. If the dog is so stressed that you can’t succeed in managing and modifying his behavior and he is a high risk for biting someone else, he can’t be living a very enjoyable life. Nor can you! As difficult as the decision may be, it is sometimes the right and responsible one for the protection of all of your loved ones, including the dog.

What you should never do is close your eyes and hope and pray that he doesn’t bite again. You are responsible for protecting your family as well as other members of your community. Denial will only result in more bites.


What NOT to Do When a Dog Bites

The most dangerous course of action – for the dog and the human – is also the one taken by most uninformed owners of dogs who bite. Many people react to their dog’s bite by physically and sometimes severely punishing the dog into submission. Some dog trainers even recommend this method, to be employed at the dog’s first sign of aggression. A warning growl or snarl is met with a harsh verbal correction and a leash jerk, followed by more serious measures such as hanging or helicoptering if the dog continued to resist. While this method does manage to “whip” some dogs “into shape,” others will escalate their resistance, fighting back until dog, human, or both, are seriously injured or even dead. You should NOT punish a dog for biting.

This method may also teach the dog not to give a warning prior to the bite. It certainly doesn’t do anything to minimize the dog’s stressors. If anything, it increases the stress, since the dog now associates a severe beating along with whatever other negative feelings he has about the stressor.

Let’s say, for example, a dog is not fond of children. A child approaches and the dog growls – his attempt to let us (and the child) know that her presence is stressful to him. We jerk on his leash and tell him to knock it off. He snaps at us in response to the jerk, so we punish him harder, until he stops fighting and submits. The end result is a dog who isn’t any happier about being around small children, who has now learned that it isn’t safe to growl. This dog is now more likely to bite a child next time he sees one, rather than growling to warn her away, since he has learned that his growling makes us unreasonably aggressive. We may have suppressed the growl, but we haven’t helped him feel any better about being around kids!

A growl is a good thing. It tells us that our dog is nearing his bite threshold, and gives us the opportunity to identify and remove the stressor. Snarls and air-snaps are two steps closer to the threshold – our dog’s last-ditch attempts to warn off the stressor before he is forced to commit the ultimate offense: The actual bite.

If your dog growls or snaps frequently, you need to take notice. He is telling you that there are lots of stressors pushing him toward his bite threshold. If you don’t take action, chances are good that he will eventually bite. And if your dog bites a child – then what? Let’s just say dogs who bite tend to have short lifespans.

Dog Bite Classifications

Well-known veterinarian, dog trainer, and behaviorist Ian Dunbar has developed a six-level system of classifying bites, in order to make discussions of dog biting behavior more consistent and understandable. Those levels are:

Level 1 Bite

Harassment, but no skin contact. This is the so-called snap. Don’t kid yourself. A snap is an intended “air bite” from a dog who did not intend to connect. He didn’t just “miss.” It is a lovely warning signal, telling us that we need to identify his stressors and either desensitize him or manage his behavior to avoid exposing him to the things that cause him undue stress.

Level 2 Bite

Tooth contact on skin but no puncture.This is from a dog who wanted to bite but didn’t break skin, and a warning that this dog is serious. It’s a very good idea to remove the dog’s stressors at this point, before he graduates to the next level.

Level 3 Bite

Skin punctures, one to four holes from a single bite (all punctures shallower than the length of the canine tooth).

Level 4 Bite

One to four holes, deep black bruising with punctures deeper than the length of the canine (which means the dog bit and clamped down) or slashes in both directions from the puncture (the dog bit and shook his head).

Level 5 Bite

Multiple-bite attack with deep punctures, or multiple attack incident.

Level 6 Bite

Killed victim and/or consumed flesh.

Can a Dog Who Bites Be Rehabilitated? Dog Biting Can Usually Be Improved

The good news is that relatively few dogs are beyond help. If you make a commitment to helping your dog feel more comfortable with the world, there’s a good chance you will succeed. You will understand why he has bitten in the past, and be able to avoid his stressors while you work to convince him that what are now stressors for him are actually good things.

Like my own encounter with my Scottie’s capable canines, you will realize that the bite wasn’t personal, but simply the end result of a chain of events that were beyond your dog’s control. What a proud day for you both, when you can take him out in public with confidence, knowing that he is as safe as any dog can be in the face of the unknown elements of the real world.

Four Steps to Modify Aggressive Dog Behavior

Aggression is a classically conditioned response. Your dog does not generally take a seat and ponder whether he is going to bite the next time you try to clip his nails or remove him from the bed. When a stressor occurs, it triggers an involuntary reaction – the dog’s brain screams, “Nail clipping – BAD!” and the dog bites. If you want the dog to stop from biting when you clip his nails, you have to change his brain’s reaction to “Nail clipping – GOOD!” See how disciplining a dog for biting is counterproductive yet?

You will use food, a very powerful positive reinforcer, to change the way your dog’s brain responds to a stressor, using “desensitization and counter-conditioning” (D&CC). Here is one possible program for a dog who bites during nail trimming, as an example. You can change the steps to fit any situation that typically causes your dog to bite.

NOTE: Because the risks associated with a failed program for aggression are high, I strongly recommend that you work with a competent positive behavior professional to implement a D&CC program. The following program is not intended to take the place of professional guidance.

1. Write down every step of the process.

Record every single step you normally take for nail trimming, (or whatever situation your dog has problems with). Your list may look something like this:

a.) Set the nail clippers on the coffee table
b.) Grab dog
c.) Drag dog to coffee table; keep stranglehold of dog’s collar
d.) Grip dog in unbreakable headlock
e.) Pick up clippers
f.) Pick up dog’s right front paw with the left hand while maintaining headlock
g.) Move clippers toward paw
h.) Touch paw with clippers
i.) Clip first nail
j.) Clip second nail, etc., all the way through all the dog’s nails.

2. Determine how to separate different elements of this procedure into separate goals for Desensitization and Counter-conditioning.

Separate goals might look like this:
a.) Develop positive association with clippers
b.) Teach dog to sit quietly and accept paws being held
c.) Convince dog to allow nail clipping

3. Create a mini-D&CC program for each separate element.

Work on each program separately but concurrently so you can put them all together later.

a.) Positive association with clippers. Purchase several nail clippers. Leave them around the house next to his dinner bowl, on the coffee table, etc. Carry them in your hand as you go about your daily routine. Feed the dog treats while you are holding the clippers. Teach him to touch the clippers with his nose for a high-value reward. (This training technique is called targeting.) Pet him with the clippers in your hand and feed him treats.

b.) Teach your dog to accept paw-holding. Have dog sit quietly with you. Touch him at a point that does not elicit tension – perhaps the top of his head. Feed him a high-value treat. Repeat several times, giving him a treat each time, then move your hand slightly down his neck and feed him a treat.

Repeat this process, giving him treats all the while, very gradually moving down to his elbow, his knee, his paw. It may take several sessions just to get to his elbow. If at any time you elicit signs of aggression – a growl, snarl, or snap – you have moved too quickly. An ideal D&CC program never elicits the behavior you are trying to eliminate. Continue this gradual process until you can lift each paw and hold it longer and longer without resistance.

c.) Convince the dog to allow nail clipping. Your dog now thinks that nail clippers are GOOD and paw holding is GOOD. You must now convince him that the actual clipping is GOOD as well.

Do this gradually. Hold the clippers in one hand while you repeat the paw desensitization step (step 3b) with the other, to show him that paw touching in the presence of clippers is also good. Be generous with your high-value treats. Then use the hand with the clipper to repeat step 3b until he is happy about having you touch his paws with the clipper. Continue by closing the clippers near his toenail, then against his toenail, then by actually clipping the very tip off one nail.


If he handled this well, it is tempting to go on to the next nail, but it is important that you stop here. One nail clipped without resistance is a huge success. Don’t spoil it by pushing him into feeling stressed, and undoing your work.

Repeat the process the next day, and if all goes well, clip the next nail. The third day, if he still does well, try clipping the next two nails. Eventually, when he is comfortable with the whole process, you can sit down and clip all his nails in one session, without risk of being bitten.

To minimize your dog’s other stressors, make a complete list of all you can identify, then create and apply a program such as the one above to desensitize and counter condition him to each. There may be some stressors for which this is impossible, but remember that the more stressors you desensitize him to, the more likely it is that he will spend the rest of his life bite-free.

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Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, grew up in a family that was blessed with lots of animal companions: dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, goats, and more, and has maintained that model ever since. She spent the first 20 years of her professional life working at the Marin Humane Society in Marin County, California, for most of that time as a humane officer and director of operations. She continually studied the art and science of dog training and behavior during that time, and in 1996, left MHS to start her own training and behavior business, Peaceable Paws. Pat has earned a number of titles from various training organizations, including Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). She also founded Peaceable Paws Academies for teaching and credentialing dog training and behavior professionals, who can earn "Pat Miller Certified Trainer" certifications. She and her husband Paul and an ever-changing number of dogs, horses, and other animal companions live on their 80-acre farm in Fairplay, Maryland.


    • mind does not like to be pet but she can sit comfortable next to someone. she is a shit zu and everyone always think she is cute and want to per sometimes when I’m not looking and she will nip you. I dknt know what to do and my husband is scared to put the leash on her because of that but she has never nip me before and I handle her doe everything for her and never experience that. I observe her in action wwith him and friends and strangers NO PETTING I TELL EVERYONE BECAUSE SHE WILL nip I feel so bad.

      • omg I am going through the same thing with my shit zu. She does not do this to me but she does it to my husband, friends everyone else. She is 3 now and I am about to have another baby and I dont know what to do. she is a good dog all around she will lay next to you sit next to u but she does not want to be pet or anyone else to put the leash I need help because she does this to our 6 year old but he shoves her away but I cannot imagine leving her with my baby. I wonder if she can still be trained at 3 to not do this

    • My dog is 4 months old she bite me just now for the first time because i was eating something and she wanted it and resisted and i said no reputedly i touched her to send her eat her food and she bite my fingers skin and there were blod . I crated her for 10 min and then let her be she’s playing now . What should i do . I’m ignoring her right now to let her know I’m sad . She’s very young and such a good girl plz tell me what to do

  1. My dog just bit someone today; we were in an area that he could be off leash and no one was around. There was a lady who came by though and was just standing there picking things up and we were walking by and he was already running around enjoying it and then sees her, runs towards her and then bites her leg, I couldn’t believe it. The lady was not provoking him in any way. My friends dog was also there and I wondered if he did it cuz of a “pack” thing, because he did not offer to the other day when we were there. If anything he would go towards them stop half way and come back right back and so I didn’t think he needed to be on a leash but apparently I was wrong

  2. My dog only agresses at one person, my roommate. I’m nto sure if she has done something while I am not home, but I seperated the two while I am not around and the agression seemed to stop. Then rommates sister moved in about 3 months ago and last night, he bit her. I wasn’t in the room when it happened, but I was told he had her hood up and had just been walking down the stairs. Could some dogs not know that the person wearing the hat or hood is te same as before? I had one instance where a friend came over and had a hat on. My dog has seen this person quite often and would bark at first, but then go on about his busniess. Whent he firend came over with her hat, he was barking and growling, but when I told him to take off the hat, he stopped. I’m not sure if this is what happened with the rommates sister, but I would like some advice on how to break my dog of this. I am concerned for the saftey of the people in my home, and I don’t want to have to find a new home for my dog.

  3. My 11 mo. Boxer bit my daughter. I was not in the room but I heard and it was him being excited and misdirected. We used crating after that and he was getting better. Today I guess we got to lax about it and he bit my sale daughter again. This is a dog she, we all love. But how can we live with or be comfortable with a dog that bites our own family. What to do now.? I don’t want to have him killed he just isn’t good fit for our family, I’m a single mom on disability, help please use caution and be gentle with your words.

  4. My dog, Oakley, is 2 going on 3 in March. She has started biting my Fiancé and I don’t know what to do. He doesn’t do anything to provoke her. The first bite was a level 3 on his nose two weeks ago while I was away in Colorado. She was humping him(yes I know it is weird) and he hugged her to kind of stop her and when he pulled back she bit his face. Tonight he was cuddling her like they have always done and she growled immediately biting his finger. She drew blood but it wasn’t as bad as the last time. She is not fixed and we have decided to fix her next month to be sure she is out of heat, but now I am scared to have her go through the procedure and become more aggressive. I don’t know if it is because of us living in a one bedroom apartment and she is maybe just not getting enough exercise or if it is something to do with my ex whom was abusive(I left him and took her away once I saw him being abusive towards her). She has nipped two of my girlie friends in the past because they made sudden movements towards her and I addressed that issue and it has not happened since.. now this… She is a very kind and loving and goofy dog, my best friend and my honest to god savior. I do NOT want to let her go. I am just really scared and don’t know what to do. Please help me. I don’t want to give up on the one that saved my life and didn’t give up on me..

  5. I non-concur with some comments – dogs are pack animals and they adhere to a strong leader.

    I was at a friend’s house recently and the rescue pit/cattle dog mix they had ALWAYS nipped at my hands as I helped refurbish the house. I thought I would grow on the dog and it was never that big of a deal until two days ago Thanksgiving….she cuddled with me for more than an hour but when I moved to accept a dessert bowl she nipped my cheek. That’s unacceptable.

    I don’t cater to the whole philosophy and all that, I have had two rescue dogs but if any dog ever threatened me I dominated them b/c that’s what they expect from a pack leader. I have laid on a dog and kept her head/neck still so she couldn’t fight until a point where she gave up…….guess what, submission.

    Screw all this talking to them nonsense…..try and do that with a 2000K bull! On a farm you don’t screw around with worrying about animal feelings….what a joke. Are you in charge or are you giving it over to them??????

  6. I non-concur with some comments – dogs are pack animals and they adhere to a strong leader.

    I was at a friend’s house recently and the rescue pit/cattle dog mix they had ALWAYS nipped at my hands as I helped refurbish the house. I thought I would grow on the dog and it was never that big of a deal until two days ago Thanksgiving….she cuddled with me for more than an hour but when I moved to accept a dessert bowl she nipped my cheek. That’s unacceptable.

    I don’t cater to the whole philosophy and all that, I have had two rescue dogs but if any dog ever threatened me I dominated them b/c that’s what they expect from a pack leader. I have laid on a dog and kept her head/neck still so she couldn’t fight until a point where she gave up…….guess what, submission.

    Screw all this talking to them nonsense…..try and do that with a 2000K bull! On a farm you don’t screw around with worrying about animal feelings….what a joke. Are you in charge or are you giving it over to them??????

    Take charge of the animal – if they refuse to submit and you cannot trust them?? Sucks but put them down.

  7. It is our failure/inability, as humans to not recognize the warning signs that our dog is stressed or anxious. Our dogs are constantly talking to us. Dog owners must educate themselves on canine body language and always supervise interactions with children. How we greet and interact with our human counterparts, i.e. direct eye contact, and hugging, are actions that in the canine world are invasive and threatening. I was horrified by the video and photos on social media of a service dog being used as step stool by the child who couldn’t reach the water faucet.
    To Greg, those ‘nips’ were warnings. The dog was clearly uncomfortable in your presence, and it is unfortunate that the owner did not recognize warnings the dog was exhibiting prior to the nips, and work to create a positive association with you being present. We have a wonderful dog whose only aversion is to power tools. A hand drill sound and vibration sends him into a barking, lunge at the tool, frenzy. Being cognizant of the fact that a dog’s sense of sound, scent, and vibration are thousands of times that of a human’s, we must work to help him develop a more positive association with noisy, vibrating tools. As responsible and humane owners, we must also manage the situation by simply giving him a more enjoyable alternative to being in the same room where the tools are being used.
    It has been known and proven, for many, many, years by the world’s top Animal Behaviorists, PhD’s, and Veterinary Behaviorists, that positive reinforcement and behavior adjustment training are the most effective and reliable ways to train. When one teaches the dog to enjoy and be a participant in what the owner is cuing the dog to do, the desired behavior is more likely to occur, and a beautiful partnership develops.
    Due to the unfortunate popularity of shows like The Dog Whisperer, too many humans continue to subscribed to the hugely debunked dominance theory. The alpha wolf does not pin down and hold into submission other members of the pack. Doing so would require the expenditure of much needed energy required for hunting and survival. Rather, the alpha will posture, give a lip pucker, growl, and possibly snap at and chase away the offending pack member. Again, fighting only serves to deplete energy and would result in the injury, or even death of a pack member, effectively eliminating their own species.
    As a person with experience and training in working with dogs court ordered to quarantine as related to bites, I would not keep a dog who has bitten my child. That dog is probably in a constant state of stress, arousal, and anxiety around children. It is not safe for the children and not fair to the dog.
    There are wonderful and reliable resources for concerned owners. Contact The ASPCA.
    Also, be aware that use of tools such as shock collars, prong collars, underground electric fences, and physical manipulation/intimidation, can greatly confuse the animal and significantly increase the intensity of the behavior you choose to eliminate.


  9. I am heartbroken, however it is time to take drastic measures with our shih-tzu poo. I just don’t know what that is. She is our family dog & we love her so, but she has bitten one too many times. We have had her for 6 years, got her when she was about 5 months old; have had her on Prozac to try & “take the edge off”, it didn’t work; and now she is biting & cannot be trusted. Biting others, biting me, & seemingly unprovoked. I would like to try the crating her when people come over method, as I cannot bare the thought of rehoming her or the worse. Although I would not feel comfortable sending her to another family knowing her history. She is a troubled girl & struggles to find peace, and the result is lashing out through biting. Does anybody have any other ideas that I should start with?

    • The dog has issues and, unfortunately, may have to be euthanized since rehoming or relinquishing to a rescue organization may not be possible because of the bite history which you must disclose (if you don’t you could possibly held liable if dog bites someone else). Am dealing with roommate now whose dog barks, growls, snaps, level 1 & 2 bites for no particular reason & at no particular time; the dog has done this to everyone but the owner keeps making excuses=to expensive to hire a behaviorist but yet just went on x-country trip & planning overseas trip in near future; constantly urging other roommates to sit near dog & pet it (who wants to get bit again) & then when won’t tells them dog senses fear. This dog has lunged aggressively at its own dogwalker as well. The demonstrates, without question, the irresponsible owner & a dog that, most likely, will need to be put to sleep. All the owner does if the dog bites someone they will deal with it then. That will be a major lawsuit and the owner will suffer the consequences deservedly so.

      • I understand your concerns, but your response is very heartless. Obviously you are angry at your roommate. In your case, moving out seems more practical than insisting SOMEONE ELSE have their dog put down.

        You are clearly not a “dog person” if you just think this is like a car with a mechanical problem and you “get rid of it” to get rid of the problem. It is more akin to having a CHILD with mental or physical disability, who acts out and harms others.

  10. Steve that is pretty bold statement! dogs might have issues but how many of them are vicious murderers who start wars. Sorry. I don’t think people are any more important than dogs. They just need us to survive at this point.

  11. Steve, that is pretty bold statement! dogs might have issues but how many of them are vicious murderers who start wars. Sorry. I don’t think people are any more important than dogs. They just need us to survive at this point.

  12. We rescued our dog two years ago. She was labelled people aggressive at the shelter and was about to be euthanized, but was so sweet to me from the moment we met. My husband and I were sure with some proper training, love and socialization she would be a friendly, wonderful dog. For the past two years we have provided her a loving home, introduced her to countless people and other dogs, taken her on outdoor adventures of all kinds, and even got her another dog so she would have a friend while we were at work. These past two years our dog has seemed to really improve, appearing more comfortable around people, declining rate of lunging at or nipping at people, and even allowing strangers to pet her. We thought for sure our dog was a success case. Two days ago she bit our neighbor who was walking by our house. Our dog bit her hard enough to draw blood and bit her a couple of times. We will not kennel, confine, or rehome our dog, this will cause her too much stress and unhappiness. We have decided to put her down tomorrow. Our hearts are broken, but as much as we love our dog, she is completely unpredictable and a huge threat to others as well as a liability to us. This has been the most difficult decision of my life, but I am happy that we gave our dog two happy, love-filled years and after tomorrow she will never have to suffer anxiously again.

    • Your story is close to what I am going through. I adopted a rescue from a shelter 7 weeks ago with no history. He’s 10 mos old and was sweet as a button. The first few days I thought it couldn’t have gone any better. A few days later he started barking at my boyfriend, and then my daughters boyfriend. We thought he must have some fear of males. It turned into lunging at them and “nipping” their legs. So I did a zoom with a behavioral vet specialist. He said to lower his stress level and get him on medication and then to desensitized training. So I got him on Prozac and cbd, and we are working everyday on the desensitized training, but more and more bad behaviors are coming out. I fear this could lead to a bite and I just can’t take that. I am now living in an extreme stressful environment and don’t know what to do.

    • You killed your dog because you didn’t want to control them?

      I’m sorry, but that’s the saddest thing I’ve read in a long time.

      Many dogs are territorial about their house. I’m not an expert; I’m reading this article to try and get advice. But seems pretty straightforward not to leave them loose in the yard, vs the alternative.

  13. I am shocked at all the people who live with aggressive dogs and continue to tolerate it, even though their own and their family’s lives and health are at serious risk! Your dog is literally running and ruining your life! Whatever you are doing is obviously not working. Stop trying to fix it yourself. Seek help from an experienced trainer who does not use punishment…someone who will teach you how to interact with your dog, set limits, and shape your dog’s behavior by patient teaching, reinforcement, and reward. I am NOT a dog trainer, but I have owned and “trained” a German Shepherd, a Chow-Shepherd mix, a Lab, and a Border Collie. Socializing your dog is critical… they need to become comfortable with their new people, children, elderly, other dogs, etc. But it should not be a surprise or done in haphazard manner, or be overwhelming to the dog. If the dog will be living with a family with 4 children, meet & greet should be done with one child at at time, with an experienced adult supervising. Children should be taught what types of touch and play dogs like and what they do NOT like (such as pulling ears, tail, etc. or simply “getting in the dog’s face,” which dogs often interpret as hostile or challenging). I’m sure there are many good sources of guidance in preparing a family for a new dog, and training a new dog, which this website may offer or tell you how to obtain.
    But PLEASE don’t adopt a dog until you KNOW you have the time and the tools to make it a success…otherwise, physical injuries could occur and hearts could be broken – for both the humans and the dogs.

    • Lois, it is not that simple. Some people are not strong enough to control a large aggressive dog.

      And trainers? I have tried that with other dogs and found it inanely expensive AND USELESS. After hundreds of dollars for “sessions”, the last one (a nice lady otherwise) told me if my dog had “problems” I should put it down, because SHE was a “mandated reporter” as a trainer, and if ANY DOG even nipped her, she would have to report it to county authorities (who would take the dog and euthanize it).

      The fact you have had nice dogs, doesn’t help at all with a TROUBLED dog. I’ve had dogs that were perfect angels, the most joyful animals you can imagine who wouldn’t hurt a fly. I have also had dogs who had behavior problems.

      By the time problems show up… often the family has had the dog (without serious incident) for YEARS. Sometimes the cause is physical — my stepdaughter had a 4 year old lab mix, who was fine until last year — then he turned vicious and bit her husband badly. It turned out the dog had a brain tumor.

  14. Ok so my dog loves my bf to death until he wants to kiss me. He will cry and growl. if he tries to turn and love on my Chihuahua he will try to bite him. So tonight my dog hurt his dewclaw and is very sensitive because of it. My dog was on the bed my boyfriend went down to kiss on him and he was fine the second time he tried to kiss on him my dog bit him in the face. I think it was because he was in pain because of his dewclaw he didn’t want him near him. Now he wants to hit him into shape. I said no. Anyone have any ideas???

    • I would dump any acquaintance so fast who dared lay a hand on my dog it would make your head spin. I realize I’m replying to a comment that is almost 3 years old, but a man who wants to beat up a dog, especially a tiny Chihuahua, is a danger not only to the dog but to you. What’s going to happen to you when you do something he dislikes? What about a small child?

  15. I have a rescue dog who is “mouthy”. She speaks in growl and will bite if backed into a corner. If I need her to do something like a bath, I let you go into the backyard, close the door and loop the non-hook end of the leash. Then I can get her and immediately switch to the collar end of the leash. Then she’ll come into the bathroom and I’ll put her in the dog tub. Then she resigns herself to her fate.

  16. I adopted a Shiba Inu early April. He has 3 legs and it seemed to the people at the humane society that he had a rough past and possibly abused. The person who brought him in said his leg was amputated due to a dog fight and he still had his staples in when we got him. He’s had his ups and downs and tends to be grouchy and sometimes growly but was overall a sweet dog. He slept with me, we even took him on a huge road trip to the beach and he loved it, he loves playing and snuggling. He’s growled at me before and nipped at the air. He also often licks and bites the air which I think has something to do with abuse but I’m not sure. Since we got home from the beach he’s not been the same. He has been so grouchy with me and I’m heart broken because I love him. Two nights ago he got in the couch and put his paw and pressed into me and stared me in my eyes and looked angry for no reason at all. I got up to try to walk away because he seemed angry and stressed, but then he attacked me. Level 5 attack to the point I went the night in the ER. I really feel so lost and alone and just need some sort of advice. We love him, but don’t want him to harm us, our other dogs, or another person. Please help

  17. My beagle has never bitten us before, but in the past month, it happened twice. they have all been level 2 bites and all of the sudden. This past one happened today while I was eating popcorn on the couch. my dog was sitting at the end of the couch begging, as usual. He knew my brother was behind him because he was petting him. All of a sudden, with no warning he turned around and bit my brother in the nose and eye. We told him no and sent him outside. I’m really worried and dont know what we’re going to do

  18. My In-laws have an out of control “herding” dog who continues to nip the heals of visitors. He has repeatedly “nipped” at my ankle. Once, he bit my hand and drew blood.
    Now, he has bitten my grandson, and I have had enough!
    In general, I don’t like euthanasia, but what are my choices?

    • @Jim Walsh: I know you are joking but… you need to have a “come to Jesus” talk with the in-laws and tell them that when you visit… the dog must be crated or kept in a locked bedroom or something. Maybe left in the garage or with a neighbor. Otherwise you WILL NOT bring your grandson over the house, period.

      You can’t euthanize someone else’s dog, and if you report the dog for a minor incident and the dog is taken away … you will poison your relationship with your wife’s parents FOREVER.

      You can also insist that they visit YOUR HOME or your adult children’s home WITHOUT THE DOG… and that you will NEVER bring the grandson anywhere that the dog is.

      Start with that.

  19. My mom’s chihuahua has never been mean and tonight I went to move her in the bed so I could sit and she attacked and bit me and then went after my mom cause she tried to stop it she has never done that before. We are not sure what to do??? We need help! She is very protective if someone moves or swings their arm too quickly not sure if it’s because something was done to her by my mom’s ex 🤷‍♀️ but we love her so much and have had her for 5 years any advice besides putting her down that is absolutely the last resort I want to try and find her stressors so she can be comfortable I know the arm movement or goofing around with someone is one of them she thinks someone is getting hurt.

  20. My daughter’s dog, Tito, is a Yorkipoo, about 4 years old. He has recently started to be aggressive with strangers. He barks (a lot) and jumps up on them. A visitor entered my home that Tito had been introduced to, but Tito barked and jumped on him and caught his teeth on the visitor’s ring when hands were at waist height. He has severe separation anxiety When my daughter leaves Tito with me and his aggressiveness gets worse. How do I curb this aggression when he is staying here and humanely stop the excessive barking.

  21. My Greyhound (who was never ever vicious towards anyone unless they hit my brother) just bit my brother after my brother tried to give him a kiss but earlier he tried to attack a husky and I can’t understand why I think he might need to get put down and that makes me so sad we have had Yoda for 5-6 years now and it won’t be the same without him and we have his sister too and she will be heartbroken 😔 please please please pray for my baby boy not to have to die. My brother is at the hospital rn with a puncture in his face and neck please pray for Nathan he is only 14 and is autistic 😰😰😰

  22. We have a continued issue with our dog being aggressive with other dogs who he for some reason sees as a threat to him or, as he is part German Shepherd part Collie and so a large dog, more so a possible threat to the other dogs we are minding. There is no warning sign other than when he initially will spring or run to the strange dog. Sometimes it only results in no more than a grow, but on 6 or 7 occasions this has escalated to him lunging at the other dog and pinning them down to the ground with his mouth around their throat. Never has this progressed to him actually biting the other dogs. And is ceased when I call him to come away or the owner who is usually nearer has intervened. And as we mind dogs as a small business this is more key than it would be if we didn’t have any commercial involvement. Plus the implications are greater too. I have ordered him a mussle as this seems to be the only way I can prevent any situation, such as mentioned, from occurring again.

    • @Graham: I believe that aggression ONLY towards other dogs — strange dog (not your other pets) — is relatively easy to deal with.


      If you go for walks, it has to be in isolated places and always on a very secure leash (NOT one of those “retractable leashes” but a good rope or leather leash, no more than 6 ft long). I’d probably also muzzle him anytime you go outside your own home or yard.

      You may have to give up the dog sitting business UNLESS you can keep your own dog completely separate. If your dog attacks or bites a customer’s dog, you are in lawsuit territory and that won’t be pretty.

      A muzzle is good, but not enough. He has to be kept away from ALL OTHER DOGS, period. For the rest of his life. (Most dogs can get out of a muzzle.)

    • @Parok chop Express: I’ve requested the moderator remove your nasty comments. You are a troll.

      These are people with a serious problem, and you are mocking their LANGUAGE. Maybe they are not native English speakers. Maybe they are crying and typing on a phone in a big hurry.

      In any event, you have NO useful advice nor experiences to share. Go away.

    • Dave, you were lucky. In many cases, hitting a dog simply escalates the aggression — and the next time, the dog is even MORE scared and MORE vicious as he is now afraid you will beat him again.

      There is no animal trainer or behaviorist who thinks that “hitting your dog in the face” is a solution to biting or any bad behavior. None.

  23. My dog and I were on a potty break on our way back home cutting across the drive in apts complex, out of the blue this little old lady and her yorkie bust out of the side of garbage bin! The Yorkie of course is a “happy Yappity- yap-yap-yap snap growl as if it’s any challenge for my Siberian Husky who is the strong silent type! Who suddenly just pins this little thing to the ground! I go to grap her off and I then pull off her collar, now taking off her leash!! Shoot me in the foot! The rest is panic yell at her “ straight to the house” which she obeyed! The little lady stood right in front of my house hold her dog in hand checking her then passing to a noisy neighbor she says “I don’t see anything “ then I just apologize and tell her if needed take her to vet, I will pay for my part of responsibility. All good!
    Nope, next day, her daughter is going about the complex slandering me and my dog. Too much to get in too! But it then gets crazy, she’s shoot at me are you the owner of the killer dog? I said , “no”. But if you are referring to the incident yesterday let’s talk. She then states I have nothing to talk to you about! She then begins with treats and taking pictures of me my car and my dog. I had to just go for a ride! So now, I’ve spoken to humane society and I am all good they recommend I speak to dog owner not the daughter being that she is combative, disrespectful and slanderous. I have been notified by HOA that she filed complaint with 2 witnesses. D where they came from but Watever . Now, I just need help with writing a response letter to both HOA and owner of Yorkie telling her I won’t be complying with her daughter due to _______(idk) I don’t have a clear mind so I’ve been stuck without any idea on where to start. Anyone know where I can find help with maybe NOLO or form letters, templates. Need to get the ball back in the game!
    Appreciate any advise, help.

  24. I, am going through a tough situation and need advice. One of My Neighbors friend asked if someone would like an American Bulldog. My Son had Prior, to being informed, had spoken to our neighbor of loving bulldogs (his dog (My Sons dog, had passed away a while back, and had been sad). My Son asked Me if I was Okay with having a dog at our apartment and of course, wanted him to be happy. The prior owner wanted a good home for her, she was moving to a different city. We got her, she was trained to go outside for her rr duties, sits down and gives her paw, loves the rub the belly… Awesome! Then One day she I think was excited and kind of jumped on me, growled and kind of bit my arm… then a few days later, My son came to My room and i saw blood, I thought he was joking and informed Our dog bit him, I was in shock. Immediately called 911. He had to get stitches and the cops and the Animal Control came, informed of having her Quarantine for 10 days (she has her vaccinations in tact), My Son did not want her to be taken. I didn’t understand, so she stayed and I went to the ER. The Next day, I asked them to pick her up, just to have her know she did wrong. Then My Son told Me, He does not remember if it was a bite or scratch. Oh My Gosh! Well… After the day before last of quarantine (I, wanted her to be evaluated), We went to see her, she had never barked as loud, It hurt ME Sooooo Bad, She is like a daughter to Me, Brightened both Our Life. I, Promised her We were going to pick her up the next day. We were inquiring of where & whom good to have her/temporarily as long as We could keep contact with her…till this day… no one 🙁 We then Picked her up and now have her at a Doggy Spa, I am a single Mother/Dad… It is expensive, Bible. I, am not able to have her back at our place… and wondering is that true? I paid the pet fee and got her evaluated, was informed not bad behavior…Idk What to do….Am I gonna have to find another place to have her or can she still be here. The manager informed she is not able to be here, I’d greatly appreciate feedback, Thank You in Advance. Blessings