When a dog bites, we often hear, “no one ever saw it coming.” Unfortunately, in many of these cases, a professional (or even just a dog owner with an ounce of common sense and access to the internet) could have seen it a mile away if they were given the chance.
We’ve all seen those “cute” viral videos where a baby steals a cookie from a dog or some asshat repeatedly tries to take a dog’s bone while some other jackhole giggles incessantly in the background. If you’re like us (and we hope you are), you find yourself rolling your eyes and questioning the future of humanity when you see videos like that.
There are some pretty well-documented warning signs of a dog bite, so anyone who owns a dog (or is around dogs since it’s naive to think you can trust random Joe dog owner to read their own dog’s behavior accurately) should make an effort to learn even the most basics of dog body language. It’s also important to note that each dog has a unique “dialect” when it comes to warning signs, so the phrase “know thy dog” is also of importance here. And if you know what triggers your dog or what has led to a bite in the past, please god, manage the shit of any situation in which you think your dog might bite again. It’s one thing to be naive about dog body language and behavior, but it’s another to be willfully ignorant and/or dismissive.
Here’s the thing. Dogs rarely bite without any warning. There’s almost always a warning. You just didn’t see it. When someone says that “there was no warning” before a bite, what they are really saying is, “I wasn’t paying enough attention because I was engrossed in level 158 of Candy Crush” or “I didn’t know enough to see the signals the dogs was sending that he was uncomfortable”. We get it, dog body language can be hard to read, especially for novice owners and bites can happen very fast, but please for all that is good and holy, don’t say that there was no warming. Instead, do yourself a favor and ask how you missed the warning and how you can catch it the next time. Throughout the day, your dog is giving you repeated status updates (Just like that annoying friend on Facebook who wants you to know about their sudden rash and what they made for dinner), so do yourself a favor and pay attention.