3 News Anchors….3 bites…the patterns…What can we learn?

3 News Anchors….3 bites…the patterns…What can we learn?

The news story with the anchor woman this week went all over the world and people everywhere have taken sides or expressed opinions….myself included. This is just a reminder of the need for more education.  I am so sorry that this has happened and am not looking to blame the anchor woman but rather point out some common patterns so that more people can be educated and not experience this situation.  

What I want to point out in this post are three triggers in 3 different TV interviews with dogs that have bitten. The perception of the bites varies from funny to horrifying largely based on the look of the dog. The reality though is that each of these bites had the same subtle warnings that were missed by the people on the scene. Often the commentary is that it was out of the blue or all was going fine…not so. Here are the common factors in these situations:

1. unfamiliar person approaches dog

2. Person reaches for dog when dog is showing signals of stress. (licking lips, turning away, backing away etc)

3. Person leans over or towards dog

In this clip below there will be a follow up commentary. All was going well they say.

In this one in particular the dog was put in a bad situation. New handler and reporter in his face. I am not sayingthe bite was the appropriate response but the above patterns were there.

1. unfamiliar person approaches dog

2. Person reaches for dog when dog is showing signals of stress. (licking lips, turning away, backing away etc)

3. Person leans over or towards dog 

In this clip below Barney The Presidential dog bites a reporter.  Barney is CLEAR from the beginning that he does not want to be there.  in the first several seconds he is turning away and moving back as the woman approaches saying his name.  The reporter who is squatting down stands up and Barney moves forward a bit after him.  Then watch the next time the reporter squats down. Look for the common pattern.

What is the mood following this bite? Humor.  He is a small dog and “bites” are more accepted by small dogs.  This is very unfortunate.  Dogs that bite are not comfortable.  The size and breed should never justify a bite.  What if barney was a Larger dog?  Would the situation be funny then?  I realize this man’s bite wound was less sever but the his behavior and the patterns were still there.  We need to respect what dogs indicate and be more aware so they succeed.  Again, the 3 elements of pattern were there.

1. unfamiliar person approaches dog

2. Person reaches for dog when dog is showing signals of stress. (licking lips, turning away, backing away etc)

3. Person leans over or towards dog

Below is my commentary on the bite to the anchor woman this past week.  I slowed it down so that the signs can be seen clearly.  The three elements are there.  We need to learn from these situations.  These are adults….kids do what adults do and end up in ER all the time.  Please rethink how you behave around a dog.  Dogs communicate perfectly as dogs…not people. Take a moment and watch this clip.  I hope that this is information that is helpful! 

I want to offer some tips to help decrease the risks to people of all ages.

1. Always keep in mind that not all dogs want to interact

2. Get familiar with subtle body language dogs offer that indicate stress. (doggonesafe.com)

3. Put your side to the dog vs. facing head on.  Allow them to choose to engage or not  Turning away or moving away is a big signal that they do not want to interact.

4.  When petting a dog, pause after a moment and see if they “want more” or do they opt out and walk away or shake off.  Respect this!

There are many more tips and great posts floating around.  Here is a link to a great poster about how to greet a dog. 

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