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Dog was protecting his bone with bite

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Updated: January 10, 2013 6:12AM



Dear Ollie: The other day, my small dog was happily chewing on a bone. When I tried to take it, he growled and then when I finally did take it from him, he snapped and a small bite that drew blood landed on my hand. Do I have to put my dog down for what he did?

Sally, a Wanatah Dog Lover

Dear Sally: Grrr … put the dog down … absolutely not. What you really have here is a training issue. You should know better.

At their core, dogs are predators and pack animals. Experts say canines’ powerful instinctive responses to things such as taking away a bone or an innocent hug around the neck can create dangerous situations.

Didn’t you read what dog trainer Lisa Bataska said in last week’s column? She said, “Read your dog’s body language.”

I’ll just bet that your dog stiffened up and his ears went back when he knew his bone was in danger. Why weren’t you watching all this?

People and dogs behave they way they do for a reason.

Your dog is resource protecting. Dogs don’t have an innate code of conduct and they can be conditioned to behave but they must be told what to do firmly and consistently.

If you want your dog to drop a bone, he must be trained with the simple command, “Drop it” and the assurance he will get something else. That is one way to do it.

One other thing you can do is teach him that if you take his bone, you can share it. Teach him how to release it, give him a cookie and then give it back to him.

The dog must be trained to trust its human, she said. Clearly, you need to earn that trust.

We don’t know how old your dog is but Lisa recommends training begin with a young dog. If the dog is older, it becomes more of
a management issue, she says.

“In my experience, many a dog is not trained or corrected when they get in the resource guarding mode and may eventually end up in a shelter because the owners can’t handle them.”

Even if the dog is older, a dog can be trained but training the human is a different matter.

Reading a dog’s body language is the first step in developing a training partnership.

For instance, read these cues. An approachable dog’s body should be soft and relaxed and not stiff with its tail tucked under. When your dog’s mouth is open with its tongue lolling out, it is relaxed and comfortable and can be approached. Yawns and lip-licking indicate anxiety as does a tightly closed mug.

Sally, you need to begin training your dog immediately. Only when you have given this situation 100 percent of your time and effort can you ever begin to think about putting your dog down.

Lisa Bataska can be reached by phoning the Canine Country Club at 548-3604.



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