One of the very few things that can leave you completely dumbstruck is when your own faithful canine bites you.
Yes, there is practically nothing as unsettling as having been bitten by the dog whom you so lovingly nurtured and reared.
Why? What for? How could it?
These could perhaps be your initial thoughts, but once the reality sinks in, you would probably wonder what to do with the dog that bites its owner. Honestly, there are not many options ahead of you. You can either manage its behavior or modify it.
If these don’t work, you may rehome your biting dog. In fact, you may consider rehoming it even before investing time and energy on behavior management or modification. When nothing works, and as a last resort, you may have to euthanize your dog.
According to the World Health Organization data, globally tens of millions of injuries occur every year due to dog bites. It constitutes a huge 76%-94% of all the world’s animal bite injuries.
What is more interesting to note is that 77% of the dogs who have a history of biting belonged to the owner or his friend, held attorney Kenneth Philips.
Therefore, dogs biting their owners are more common than they biting total strangers.
The saddest bit is, children are the leading victims of dog attacks, found WHO. In all sanity, you would not want your precious pet to keep harming you or your family/children after it has bitten once.
Therefore, you need to know the way forward – what to do with an unfaithful biting dog?
Just as you would try to manage your child’s behavior if he/she child turns unruly, you would need to manage your dog if it has bitten you.
Biting is totally unacceptable, even when the damage isn’t severe.
Managing your biting dog’s behavior would essentially mean restricting its movements or keeping it chained so that it can no longer bite you or anyone in the house.
There can be many ways to restrict movement – you can put it in a dog crate,use a leash or harness, get the dog to wear a basket muzzle or even isolate it in one part of the house all through the day.
Behavior management, however, is different from dog training. Dogs do not get to learn anything in behavior management.
This is basic – plain control to prevent its aggressive behavior. The quality of the dog’s life is a little compromised, but you just cannot take a bite lightly.
Once a dog bites its owner, chances are that it will bite again given a chance. So, the easiest and the quickest solution at hand is to restrict it.
Behavior Modification or Training
Now, if you truly care for your canine, you would not stop at managing the behavior of your biting dog.
You would perhaps go an extra mile to modify its aggressive behaviors through consistent and regular training.
Behavior modification is aimed at improving tendencies, disciplining your dog, understanding its sources of stress and aggressive behavior, addressing them, etc.
Naturally therefore, this is a time-taking option and also one that requires serious commitment. Unless you can devote time to this patiently, it may not be a good idea to do it yourself.
Also, if you are the victim of the dog bite yourself, you are definitely not the best fit for behavior modification of your dog as your subjective emotions will come in the way of an objective training program.
In such case, it is advisable that you take professional help and consult a counselor or behaviorist.
Behavior modification programs would include understanding the dog’s stressors or triggers for aggression.
It will comprise desensitizing the dog and counter-conditioning it towards its stressors. A dog would always bite when it feels threatened. So it is important to identify what or who causes the stress.
Also, it is vital to be patient if you choose this option.
Remember, modifying behaviors isn’t an easy task and more so, when it comes to aggressive dogs. So hold your horses and wait for your dog to demonstrate positive behaviors.
Finding your dog a new home is an option if none of the above two work for you or if you feel that you cannot possibly remove the sources of stress for your dog in and around your home.
For example, if your dog has a particular dislike for children, you cannot perhaps keep your newborn away just to keep your dog happy. In such cases, it is best to find your canine a new home.
A new environment devoid of the identified stressors can have a positive impact on the dog and help it check aggression.
However, if the reason for the dog’s aggression is unknown, it is still a good idea to rehome your dog if you are not in a position to manage or modify its behaviors.
Some dogs with a history of biting its owner are taken up by government squads and trained as sniffer dogs and drug detectors. Some are also absorbed into the police as police dogs.
However, all of this depends on the severity of the aggression, its frequency and the general nature and breed of the dog. Dog rescue groups do not welcome biting dogs.
Nor are the pet adoption centers capable of handling an aggressive canine.
Therefore, it is best if you can find a new owner for your dog who has unconditional love and willingness towards improving dog behaviors.
But this is not an easy task. A world where only one 1 out of 10 dogs finds a home, you can imagine how daunting rehoming your biting dog can be. Rest assured, you would not want your dog to land up with a ruthless owner who will ill-treat it.
After all, you have always loved your dog and will love it, the biting incident notwithstanding.
So, rehoming can take time, although it is a good option for dogs that bite their owners.
Euthanize the dog
This is probably the last thing you would want to do with your beloved pet, be it any animal.
However, if your dog’s aggression is unmanageable and this seems like the only option, you have to deal with it, no matter how heavy it sounds.
Yes, when a dog bites its owner or members of the family repeatedly or when it fails to respond to behaviorist’s approaches, it is a written-off case for euthanasia.
Keeping the dog chained and caged through the day for as long as it lives not only compromises the quality of life, but is also physically painful for the animal.
Therefore, in extreme cases, when all hopes for revival are lost, it is best to euthanize your dog.
For all you know, you did your dog a favor, as much as you ensured safety for your family and you.
Something that you should never do to discipline your biting dog is punish or rebuke.
This generally makes matters worse. If you punish your dog for biting you or someone in the family, this will further fan its aggression as it will extend the association of its stressor to the punishment.
This means that if the dog was stressed at the sight of the nail clipper in your hands and bit you thus, a punishment or rebuke will stress it more in future at the sight of nail clippers because it may think that nail clippers lead to punishments.
Harsh treatments are never recommended as a response to the dog’s biting behavior because it increases the stress.
Bringing the aggressive dog into submission will never be truly achieved through punitive measures, although mild rebukes and punishments may work in other instances of training a dog to behave.
But in cases of an aggressive canine at home, you first need to figure out what caused it to bite you or the owner.
Is it aggression out of fear or possessiveness or defense mechanism? Or is it protective aggression? Or maybe the biting was in reaction to some pain you unknowingly inflicted?
Managing a biting dog depends a lot on identifying the reason behind the aggression.
Not all dogs would bite often and not all biting dogs would need professional help from animal behaviorists. The key is to analyze its action first and then choose any one of the four options above.
Dogs are faithful animals and they would not bite its owner under normal circumstances.
But when it does, there may be substantial reasons, which may or may not be in your control. The sooner you identify these, the better you can deal with the situation.
Accordingly, you can either manage its behavior for some time by restricting movements, or you can work upon its behavior by getting some professional dog training help.
Alternatively, you can look for a new home for your faithful friend who just turned a little hostile.
If nothing works and the dog’s aggression hits unmanageable proportions, you will only be left with the painful choice of euthanasia.
However, before you choose to do anything about the dog that bit its owner, reflect hard on its behavior – Is it the first instance of biting? How severe is the injury?
What made it bite its owner?
Did the owner do anything wrong? Once you have answers to these, you will know best what to do with the dog. All the best!