I don’t think there is a “Dog Trainer” out there that would disagree with me. I can’t tell you how often I took “Scooter,” my new training dog out for the first time. When I went to pet Scooter – “WHAM” – he bit me, or gave it his best try. As an Aurora dog trainer, and other dog trainers in the field always ask:
- “Does he nip or bite?”
- “Any aggression problems?”
The owner answers us with:
- “Oh no, he just won’t come when we call him.”
- Or “Sometimes, little Scooter jumps on our bed and doesn’t want to get down.”
So I tell Scooter’s mom, “Scooter just tried to bite me!” and Scooter’s mom starts to cry and say “I know, but I didn’t want to tell you because I thought you wouldn’t train little Scooter.” She was sent home from two dog training schools and told to put Scooter to sleep by another. I tell Scooter’s mom it’s ok, it happens all the time. Afterwards, I explain how some dogs have strong alpha personalities and learn how to use their teeth as a weapon, and a good one it is!
Acknowledging the Bad Behavior is Key
If a dog bites you, or tries to bite you, you need to give a firm but fair slap under the chin. With a young puppy, a flick on the nose most of the time will work. Then again, I’ve had that cute, three month old Cocker Spaniel that’s tougher than some fourteen month old Pit Bulls, and I’m not stereo typing Pit Bulls. They are a fantastic breed. There are dogs of every breed that can have that kind of temperament. The more the dog wins, the tougher he or she can be. Most times dog aggression is taught accidentally. Dogs and humans think differently, as dogs do not consider that their owner:
- Feeds them.
- Loves them.
- Provides them with medical care and shelter and that they should therefore be grateful and obedient.
Dogs inhabit a much simpler world where successful behaviors are reinforced and unrewarding behaviors are discontinued.
Say your dog is eating, a child walks into the kitchen, and the dog starts to growl at the child. “STAY AWAY FROM THE DOG WHEN HE’S EATING, HE’S GONNA BITE YOU!” Or, the kids are in the backyard running and playing, and your dog starts to run and play too. But the dog starts to bite at the ankles of the kids, “DON’T RUN BY THE DOG, HE’S GONNA BITE YOU!” Please stop and consider what you are training the dog.
You are training the dog that his aggression is a successful behavior that can achieve whatever he wants. Your children have the right to walk where they please without risk of bodily injury. But you are teaching the dog that if it shows aggression, it can get it’s way. I assure you that this is the type of training that can cause a child to be seriously hurt or a dog to be put down.
Dog Behavior Is Reflective on the Owner
If you allow this type of behavior to continue, you’re asking for trouble! I’ve had the dogs that want to do nothing but please you and are a absolute pleasure to train. I’ve had that three month old showing teeth that a flick on the nose was enough to tame. Also, I’ve had that 5 year old German Shepherd Dog that wouldn’t let their owners back in their own home until I employed a muzzle, prong collar and twenty minutes of “in your face” hard discipline.
Sometimes Tough Love is Necessary
So when you see that “mean” Aurora dog trainer slap Scooter under the chin or give Scooter a hard correction with a prong collar, it could save Scooter’s life. I’ve yet to meet a professional dog trainer that didn’t love dogs. But often when a dog’s behavior has spiraled so far out of control that a trainer is required, the remedy may appear inhumane but can mean the difference between life and death.