Barking Blondes: Dogs like rules and boundaries

Joanne Good and Anna Webb

dogs blog 300x225 Barking Blondes: Dogs like rules and boundaries This week the media showed us a fascinating sight from the Labour Party Conference in Brighton.

Completely upstaging any photo opportunity of an MP falling Kinnock style across the shingle, was the image of a protestor being bitten by his own dog!

All of us dog owners, both political and undecided, watched with horror.

There was this old boy, with the obligatory placard, being asked to move on by some worthy, whilst his own dog snapped at his “vitals”!

When a dog bites its owner its generally considered the worst thing a dog can do. The old adage “never bite the hand that feeds you” springs to mind.

But sometimes owners push dogs beyond their limits of being a dog and their boundaries of dog behaviour. Stretching their patience and good will to breaking point a dog can snap. Dogs are social creatures and love a pack or family environment, but they like rules and boundaries. There is a code of practice explained mostly with subtle body language. The bite is the final moment when minute body signals have been ignored or not understood, leading to an extreme reaction.

Dogs do so well at reading our behaviour and language. We’ve done a very good job of domesticating the dog over thousands of years to be man’s best friend. They’re born almost bi-lingual pre-tuned to reading our expressions. They can sniff out our metabolic changes and they know when we’re happy, sad, anxious or excited. Puppies even know the concept of pointing early on, something that stumps even  a Chimp!

So it’s a shame that we generally don’t make that much effort to understand our dogs and know their limitations. Another adage: ‘let sleeping dogs lie is a clue that many dogs don’t appreciate being woken abruptly.

We all remember the famous celebrity chef, sporting two black eyes, from having startled her sleeping French bull dog. A bang on the face from a bonce that hard, she was lucky it was just bruising. Took a lot of explaining though and embarrassment.

Assuming you haven’t pushed your dog to bite you, and your dog has turned on you aggressively, perhaps triggered by guarding a bone or a toy, then you should seek help from a professional behaviourist.

More often than not dogs might bite their owner from an urge to play. Dogs play bite as a form of communication and it’s never meant to hurt. Other dogs understand this and play obligingly. What happens if you’re playing with your dog and get a nip but in a vulnerable area? A playful gesture might mean a trip to A&E and a scolding for doggy with a night in the ‘dog-house’. Or worse if the situation is mis-read or the blame attributed to the dog as the owner fails to understand the meaning of the bite, the dog could end up rejected and in a rescue centre.

There are lots of reasons dogs bit, growl, and react… in the main this all makes sense to the dog and happen for a logical reason in their ‘culture’. We humans should learn to speak dog and read body signals and take a lesson in basic dog behaviour.

With the dog in Brighton… maybe it was just bored with towing the party line…

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  • Heathbar

    It didn’t look like that dog was biting his owner, just protecting him. And, it’s toeing the party line, not towing.

  • madgooner1

    Shame It wasn’t a rottweiler.

  • theUKnaturalvet

    Well, I’d like to think that any dog of mine would recognise the difference between me my attacker if I was manhandled to the ground. I think in this case the dog got overexcited and sank his teeth into whatever bit of human was nearest. Just like Suarez biting an opponent on the football field – I rerckon he got overexcited and bit whatever was nearest – just happened to be the ear of an opposition player!

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