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…it *is* an issue, by Nancy Christensen

What do *I* do when a dog bites (all dogs bite)?

There are several times I would not put a dog to sleep for biting. Very few that I would say the dog is not disciplined or held liable.

A dog that is protecting me or my property is not going to be disciplined, that dog will be praised- provided there *is* a threat. If there is no threat, the situation will be evaluated and I will make a decision as to the dog’s perception of the situation. Perhaps it is just a matter of *my* responsibilities as an owner, or a need for more training and control.

A dog that is injured, in pain or coming out of anaesthesia and bites is excused. That would be *my* fault for being careless.

A dog who challenges me during a forced obedience exercise (usually dumbbell) will pay for his mistake, but not die for it. When I put pressure on a dog, such as an ear pinch retrieve (and let’s not segue into a discussion of
training methods) I expect a reaction. Once the dog knows where to channel his reaction (to the dumbbell) it is no longer an issue. If the dog cannot keep clear through this training, he could very well be PTS. For poor temperament and weak nerves.

A dog who exhibits displacement during the work, while being agitated, will receive a very strong correction and then stimulation from the helper, learning to channel to the helper and only the helper. Again, if the dog cannot learn this very quickly, and remain clear, it may lead to being put to sleep.

Displacement can be VERY dangerous. A dog can inflict a lot of damage biting the handler or other close by people, in a rage over wanting to go after another dog. This behavior is serious, it is not a joke. It *is* a flaw in temperament. A working dog needs a clear head.

A bitch with puppies, depending on the circumstance. I once (stupidly) allowed someone to look over the box to see a bitch’s first litter at about a week of age. The bitch came up and “bit” her- it was very inhibited, did not even break skin and it was not repeated. The bitch stood there and stared until the person backed up a step and straightened up, then went back to the pups. MY mistake, and the bitch still showed great control and bite inhibition. She never did anything of the sort before or after.

I don’t think any of these are “freebie” bite behaviors, but the dog isn’t put to sleep for it, nor considered nuts or dangerous.