Dogs That Bite

Copyright 2004

Per kind permission George Hobson.

Dogs that bite might be broadly categorized into two groups:  dogs that think they can;  and dogs that think they must. Dogs in the first group think they can at the dog's discretion.  Dogs in the second group have, in the dog's perception, been put into the position that it feels it has no other choice. There is a big difference in the approach to dealing with each group, and a lot of variation within the approaches to the individual dogs.

The dog's that think they can range from dogs that are genetically predisposed, to those that have been environmentally encouraged through a lack of training or bad training. In both cases human failure has led the dog down a path that leads to misery for the dog and danger to humans.
Dogs identified with genetic disposition to bite should never be bred.
They are unsuitable for companion work, and it may be difficult if not impossible to gain reliable obedience response for duties requiring bite work.

The dog that bites because it think it must may be well trained and socialized, but perceives itself to be in a situation where it knows no other option to prevent what it perceives as an undesirable incident.

Bite prevention for both categories involves two approaches: training and management. Reliable obedience must be gained, and behavior and perception modification used to enhance control of the obedience. Management is important because it must be used to prevent situations where obedience reliability has not yet been gained by training. In a perfect canine world management must be thought of as an interim measure and an addition to training - not as a substitute.

Training aggressive dogs and preventing aggressive behavior from developing is both a training and a management issue. Bite prevention approached with training and integrated management has the best potential for success.
Success may be viewed as the lowest predictable level which is acceptable.
None of my own dogs has ever bitten because I put them through extensive training to ensure their reliability. Yet I can not train for every situation, and I use management to prevent those situations from arising if possible

George Hobson is a professional dog trainer, and the owner of Eastwood Kennel in Columbia, Missouri. He is the senior trainer at Eastwood, which features lakes and several hundred acres for upland and versatile field dog training. A specially designed pond for puppies and young dogs ensures their successful start in water work on their way to becoming a partner in the field or duck blind. Boarding for training and private lessons for dogs of all ages, in obedience and manners required for being a lifetime companion, are part of the training regimen offered where every dog is under his personal supervision.
Eastwood's philosophy is that a well mannered dog is the one that will always be a pleasure to own, and that it will be as welcome in a hotel as at home or in the field. George is a member of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association, a Professional Member of the International Association of Canine Professionals, and has over 30 years experience in dog training. You can contact Eastwood Kennel by telephone at 1-573-442-1929, or via e-mail at:

George Hobson

Read more of George's Articles at:

Rational Dog Training.

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