Features April 2002 Issue

What to Do When Your Dog Bites

Once a dog bites, will it bite again? You can get your dog to stop biting people by paying attention to his stress triggers and correcting your dog's response to stress. As Training editor Pat Miller explains here, you essentially have 4 options regarding what to do if your dog bites someone.

[Updated December 3, 2018]

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 bites occur in the owner’s home. The majority of 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 a Web site run by 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?

snarling dog

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 is 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. You can:

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.)

family dog

Your dog might seem to love being around your children – and still be at risk of biting one of them.

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.

This 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.

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.

4 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 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 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 much 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.

Pat Miller, WDJ’s Training Editor, is also a freelance author and Certified Pet Dog Trainer in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She is the President of the Board of Directors of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, and recently published her first book, The Power of Positive Dog Training. 

Comments (23)

Hi was looking to see if anyone can help me here. I was out with my dog the other week and it was on the leash and another dog on it’s leash jumped to mine but mines is bigger so the other dog came worst off. Can anything happen?

Posted by: Dog lover60 | February 15, 2019 3:48 AM    Report this comment

I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT he explores by biting. It will bite and chew everything. My husband and I were thinking about taking him to 'doggy school', but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest 'doggy school' is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

Posted by: GarryR16 | February 4, 2019 6:32 PM    Report this comment

So I never thought I would be the one to say this because I grew up with dogs and have had no fear of them, but I got a level 5 bite(s) today from my boyfriend's brother's husky. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I knew and trusted the dog and there were no warning signs, though I knew the dog had bitten someone who had tried to take his food before (which I would never do). The dog had a used kleenex from the garbage, and I reached to grab his collar with my right hand, he immediately clamped down on my right forearm and shook his head, then released and bit again, only letting go when my boyfriend came over. I had about 15 deep puncture wounds. Honestly I have been very firm with the dog in the past and don't let him jump up or nip, but have never hit him. The owner said sorry and that the dog is an asshole, but doesn't seem very concerned. I think the dog barely gets exercise and doesn't like his food so barely eats. If he stays in this environment I'm worried his biting again is inevitable, do you think I should say something?

Posted by: Iwantatruffledog | December 8, 2018 11:07 PM    Report this comment

I was having trouble training my dog biting until I started using www.MyDogTrainer.info -- This program helped immensely! Since using it, we have seen great behavioral changes in our Penny Lane in the first couple of weeks. We are now the pack leader and she respects us more than ever before. I’m working with her daily in short sessions to keep her attention span intact and we will continue training. She’s blossoming into a much calmer girl instead of the wild child. I recommend his style of training over the traditional methods that just didn’t work with Penny. If you want a better way to train your dog, this is it.

Posted by: Jessica Lawrence | October 22, 2018 8:52 PM    Report this comment

What about sleep aggression? I reached down to put my dog and he bit me three times before he woke up. He's 17. Just started this year.

Posted by: Kiliri | August 18, 2018 9:02 AM    Report this comment

Would like to have had some discussion on the use of medication to control some of the fear aggression. Spent years (and lots of money) trying to train biting out our labrador retriever that we've had since 10 weeks old. Absolutely nothing worked. He is 12 now and our veterinarian has a pain med cocktail that makes a world of difference for his elderly aches and pains. He also gently persuaded me to 'try' Prozac for awhile for the fear aggression. I did not want to and beat myself up for a long time. After reading and researching (and a few more episodes of bites) I finally relented and we now have a different dog! We still exercise caution but he is so much happier and has a much improved quality of life. Now I beat myself up because I should have allowed it years ago.

Posted by: DebK | August 17, 2018 6:52 AM    Report this comment


Posted by: JIllyJ1 | May 12, 2017 2:55 AM    Report this comment

This is a great article. I recently rescued two Dachshunds. They are mother and daughter. Lacey is 10 and Lexie is 8. When I got them they were starved and were skin and bones. They both have food aggression, particularly the mom. They also show signs big time of having been physically abused. The one I suspect of having abused these dogs also abuses his wife. She told us this during one of the rare times his back was turned. It is why she gave us the girls. As far as I am concerned she was innocent of this crime and saved their lives by getting them to us. I have had them since March 15th. Since I have had them they have gained 5 lbs and though they are almost where they need to be there are still many bones, vertebrae and neck bones that look and feel like they could poke through. They both have severe anxiety but they are making progress. Lexie bit a kid we know in our complex today however and while it was not severe it was scary for him and even more so for me because while the doxies mean the world to me those kids mean the universe to me! Thankfully it was not bad and his mom was not mad. I was fully prepared if need be to rehome them though it would have depressed me deeply and for a long time! At any rate I am going to do all in my power to help them get better but before kids come in they will have to knock or ring the bell and give me time to crate the dogs.

Posted by: Dachshund41212 | April 4, 2017 12:29 AM    Report this comment

Hello all; Good article.
Wanted to remind people that for dogs very difficult to trim nails or bathe, a muzzle works really well. While I am trimming, I speak nicely and softly but get the job done. They seem more rlaxed once they know they don't have recourse! (I have 5 rescue dogs, have had maybe 20 of my own and 35 fosters over the years) Use the muzzle and you can do these jobs quickly without fear. They are also quite reasonable, $10-$20 at pet store.
Just took in new one who is elderly and found by the side of the road in a ball. He hates men! I was so surprised bcause he was lovely with me, follows me everywhere. This article reminded me it is fear most likely. It is clear this dog was abused.

Posted by: fldoggirl | March 2, 2017 8:28 PM    Report this comment

I would like to see something about dealing with biting by pre-adolescent and adolescent dogs, in the course of training; I have giant breed pups who are not yet six months but already very large. It's difficult dealing with what is essentially a giant baby while teaching him or her that I am, in fact, the boss! Preferably without either of us getting hurt...

Posted by: ccrow | February 14, 2017 8:46 AM    Report this comment

I have an 19 month old pit bull mix. The past couple days, my dog has gotten triggered on a walk when he can't get what he wants, like going the direction he wants or getting something he sees (ball, stick, trash). He will then start attacking the leash. Today he bit me twice. He saw a football 20 yards away and he wanted to go after it. When I wouldn't let him, he then started biting the leash then me. Once on the hand, which bruised me. The other on the arm, which broke the skin. I was wearing a jacket and think it would have been worse it I had bare arms. After a few seconds I was able to calm him down. We got to the car and I yelled at him. I am worried. I don't know what if anything I can do to prevent this from happening to me or another person again. I would love some advice. Thank you.

Posted by: TishS | January 2, 2017 11:55 AM    Report this comment

I am so torn right now.
I adopted what I was told is a Albino Staffordsire Terrier from a rescue place in Owasso off craigslist after not clicking with any of the dogs I met at the humane society. Fell in love with this one right when I met her. A little intimadated by her size and strength I paid the fee and took her home anyway. What i was not tild is that she can bite. I registered her a service dog. She has severe seperation anxiety. Thats all besides the point the thing is she was playing with a stuck outside with my daughter and got carried away and bit my daughyers arm. Now she has never bit before except me on the arm when she was excited but it was kore like a nibble it didnt draw blood did9 really hurt. My daughyers was a bite level 3. What donI do? Im not caging her. I dont wanna give her away or kill her. Im kinda scared she can domit again but another part if me doesnt think she will. I dont know what to do really.

Posted by: Freya | November 28, 2016 5:26 AM    Report this comment

Urgent Help Needed!! Please Help.
Hi, I have a serious issue with my 4 year old GSD. He my little baby but 3 years back I got married and had to move to another town and he is living with my mom since. Initially I used to take him out regularly but due to old age of my mom could take him out that regularly. He is trained on "Sit and No" commands along with "shake hand". He was a good dog but since a year now he has been showing signs of aggression which my mom catered well by staying calm and removing any irritants around him. He do not like my mom going out and leaving him behind so some time he used to growl when ever she goes out of home or comes back in. This was under control till yesterday. He bit her on her hand as she entered home from an evening walk. She tried to push him away but he bit her again. The injuries are level 5 dog bites. Along with that he licked the blood of his mouth.
Please help what should be done. There are a lot of suggestion to kill him. I dont know what to do.

Posted by: kholamalik | October 19, 2016 5:53 AM    Report this comment

These days every article and person seems to be saying that a dog must never, ever bite under any circumstances. But are you forgetting all the dangerous people running around? There are simply to many dangers that a woman walking down the streets in some towns is apt to encounter. You need a dog who is both willing and able to bite when need be. I've never had a problem with any of my Collies making unprovoked attacks, but one of them did let a would be rapist know he wasn't going to be successful. She bit where it counted!

Posted by: Lassie's Pal27 | July 31, 2016 6:26 PM    Report this comment

This is an excellent and educational article. Some years ago, friend adopted two dogs (several years apart - not at the same time), one from a shelter and one from an all-breed rescue. Both were described as excellent with adults, kids, cats and other dogs.

The one from the shelter was indeed wonderful - while at the shelter. However, unbeknownst to the shelter personnel, she was totally shut down. She changed shortly after her new owner adopted her. She was hell bent on attacking short, slim blond men. She was also not good with other dogs, cats or small animals. My friend had her evaluated by a credentialed behavior specialist, who believed that she had been severely damaged by her previous three, four or who knows how many previous owners. The behaviorist told my friend that most likely the best she could do with this poor dog was to manage her behaviors in a contained environment. She had been turned in to the shelter "because no one wanted her," after she had been bred extensively. After a few hair-raising episodes, my friend and her trainer deemed her too dangerous to keep and she was put down. Many tears were shed for this poor little dog that had lived at the mercy of people who did not view her as anything but a money-making puppy machine.

My friend's second experience with adoption was worse, much worse. The beautiful male dog was friendly and so very lovable. However, one day shortly after she adopted him, he reacted to a sound-trigger and turned into what would have been a killing machine had he not been successfully restrained. He, too, was deemed a dangerous dog. Because of his size and his unknown triggers, he was too much of a liability to keep. So he, too, was euthanized.

I believe that my friend had no real choice in the resolutions of the issues with these two dogs, and I would have done the same thing.

Way too many people in our society have warped minds do horrible things to dogs and other animals. We can pick up the pieces of the ones that we can change, but we can't put ourselves or others at risk. So, so sad.

Posted by: Penny'sMom | July 31, 2016 2:19 PM    Report this comment

Excellent and educational article.

Posted by: Penny'sMom | July 31, 2016 12:38 PM    Report this comment

Excellent article.

Posted by: Penny'sMom | July 31, 2016 12:36 PM    Report this comment

As a senior citizen, I never should have been allowed to adopt this 2/3-year-old terrier mix. Now 4. She cute and people want to pet her. Before they even attempt to I say don't pet her. She seems friendly but I know better. she doesn't have a problem with children. forget grooming her. I bath her then bring her to try and get her clipped. Forget nail clipping. I walk her on cement to file her nails. I would like to get a modification trainer but how do I find one?

Posted by: JaonM | July 31, 2016 10:39 AM    Report this comment

good article thank you very although it didnt tell me how to treat a dog bite

Posted by: madison1322 | October 24, 2014 7:12 AM    Report this comment

Good article. Regarding the comment on Rottweilers as being pictured in the article, I absolutely beg to differ. I can appreciate that owners can love their dogs and dogs of all breeds, properly trained, can behave appropriately. However, the statistics are there - and whether looking at a short period in which Rottweilers accounted for nearly half of all dog bite related deaths or a longer period, the number of dog bites from Rottweilers is disproportionate with their population. My wife was just bitten by a Rottweiler who had been taken in a couple of years ago by a well intentioned neighbor who did all he could to train the dog. Another neighbor was walking the dog when it pulled her over to my wife who was in our driveway - nowhere near any of that dog's territory. No warning, no growl, no reason to believe the dog was stressed in any way - he just bit her arm breaking the skin before being pulled off.
No - in my opinion there are plenty of dogs of all varieties available, and unless one wants to live remotely with their Rottweiler or Pit bull or other dog breed that has exhibited dangerous characteristics, such dogs should not be kept as "pets." Stop trying to make excuses about how adorable your particular dangerous dog is - statistics show the propensity for these dogs to be a real danger to others much more than other dogs. Come on - a terrier or Chihuahua can be an annoyance, unlikely to kill.

Posted by: David N | June 26, 2014 12:09 PM    Report this comment

My husband and I adopted 2 owner surrender mini dachshunds from our local shelter. They were told the owner had to surrender them because she was no longer able to care for them due to health issues.
I don't have much information as to their behaviour while at their last home but it does not appear they had much "home" training. Jumping, getting on the table, drinking from your tea glass, urinating on the furniture. These are all behaviours that I never allowed my other mini doxies.
The shelter stated they believed they were fear biters, but I had not seen any of that when I saw them at the shelter. We have since discovered this to be true. They do not take well to anyone new. Separately, they aren't too bad and seem more likely to accept new people. Together, they are little terrors.
They are both around 2 years old. Do you have any suggestions on how to correct this? The other behaviour issues I can eventually correct, it's the biting I am more concerned about.

Posted by: joandmar | July 8, 2013 8:05 AM    Report this comment

I am very disappointed that you chose to use several pictures of a Rottweiler in your article about biting dogs. Those of us who own and love these dogs already have to endure media sensationalism and public paranoia about our dogs just because of their breed. Yes, a few have made some very serious and/or fatal injuries to humans and other dogs; so have other breeds. Any type of dog, as you assure us in your article, is as apt to bite people as any other dog, depending on the situation. Perhaps next time you could use a mixed breed, terrier or chihuahua as a model - they bite more often than the dogs with the bad rap. Please don't add fuel to the fire.

Posted by: Susan M | October 25, 2012 9:19 PM    Report this comment

great article!

Posted by: Janey F | July 3, 2012 6:24 PM    Report this comment

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