Jimmy and Katie discuss a slight change in the podcast, Anna’s absence in this episode, and using swear words as children.
K & J read our new 5 star reviews using weird (and especially impressive) accents
Introducing the topic Humans and animals alike tend to act instinctively in times of danger, with every individual responding differently as a result of their learning history, the particular circumstance, and the individuals general make up.
Even the nicest dogs can bite. Dogs don’t have a voice to be able to say what is comfortable and what is uncomfortable to them. Growling, showing teeth, snapping, and biting are all normal dog solutions for solving conflict. Dogs don’t bite “out of the blue” unless there are cognitive or medical issues Learning dog body language is the first step to preventing a dog bite
Reasons why dogs might bite
Fear Imprint Period - A period of time where dogs tend to be more sensitive and reactive to things. This typically takes place sometime between 6 months and 14 months. (See previous episode, about fear imprints to learn more)
Medical Issue - If you notice a behavior change, take your dog to the vet to get a clean bill of health before you spend money on a trainer. Dogs are more irritable when in pain.
Self Defense - Sometimes fear is mistaken for anger. Animals tend to puff out their chests and look scary in order to make the threat go away. This is why we want dogs to get over their fears and approach at their own pace. If they are forced into situations, they may be more likely to bite out of the need for self defense
You can play “gotcha” with a puppy by going up to them from behind, grabbing their collar, giving them tons of treats, and this will help classically condition them to believe surprises are fun.
Dogs can sometimes feel threatened even when we don’t mean to because we communicate differently. Dogs aren’t always sure what our intentions are.
Resource Guarding - RG is a result of a lack of confidence and trust. They don’t want to lose their resources (water, treats, food, bones, toys, ect.) and they don’t necessarily trust that those around them will give them space. Keep in mind your dog is going to be more likely to guard if they have some high value, if they rarely get the resource, or if you are chasing them. Normally the first sign your dog is RG is when the freeze/get stiff.
Play Biting - Dogs naturally want to use their mouth during interactions, since that's how they play, pick stuff up, and resolve conflict. It is up to us to teach them what is appropriate to put your mouth on.
Curb play biting by reinforcing dogs for picking up appropriate objects and have a really strong down cue. Weave obedience cues into play time, so dogs learn to respond even during exciting times.
The common practice of saying “Ouch!” to get your dog to stop biting isn’t effective for many dogs, and may even be over stimulating since dogs are typically attracted to high pitch sounds like squeaky toys.
Neurological Issues - Talking to a board certified behavioral vet can help determine a possible diagnosis, a training plan, and a possible med to manage your dog. Neurological issues are rare.
Katie tells a traumatic story about a dog attack, describes possible procedures for how to handle dog attacks, and how trauma affects the brain.
Conclusion Any dog can bite. We have to do our best to prevent our dogs from being in situations where they feel like they have to bite. Give your dogs space if they seem anxious. Call a certified and qualified trainer if you are experiencing aggressive behaviors with your dog.