Join Date: May 2005
Location: Denmark, Ohio
generic question about personal space and biting
Because of the kid being bitten in the face thread, I am wondering about a topic that was a thread a while back about personal space.
I know that Babs does not like dogs coming right up into her face, she will snap at them -- she has done this twice with strange dogs, and then with the puppy (1 year old Karma) on Sunday. She never did connect and the two snaps at the puppy were really wimpy, not like the snap at the over-friendly Doberman a few years ago. I think she was just telling the offensive, forward dog, that they should get out of her space. With me, or the little girls, there is none of that going on. I invite her up into my space all the time, and I can hug her, put my face right into hers. No problem. And the vet can too.
I am wondering, if the dog sees a child that they live with as lower in the pack order than she is, might they choose to correct a child the way a dog corrects another dog? Or, if people respond to a dog's increasing displays of discomfort/aggression by correcting the child and making what the dog wants to happen, happen, instead of correcting the dog, will that encourage the dog in its method of limiting that sort of behavior?
My dogs LIKE to be in my face or for me to get into their face. Jenna is a face licker. Puppies, breathe on them and they will lick your face -- that's normal. Ninja jumps up on the dog house every day to get her hugs, and to lick my face. I lean back in my office chair and scooch up to Babs' easy chair, and she climbs on top of me and licks my face. I have never been afraid of being right in my dog's faces, and since I have had to give eye ointment, and clean ears, and look at teeth, I need for them to not bar me from their personal space.
And, while it is not normal, if I am in the vet's office, I expect my dogs to check out my demeaner and if I am not freaking out, then they should tolerate whatever the vet needs to do. So far, not a problem.
But I hear a lot of people saying that they do not allow people in their dog's faces. And I guess most people aren't trying to get right into my dog's face. I had one of my puppy buyers, reach over a fence and give one my dog's a kiss once, and I told her that she really shouldn't do that to a dog she doesn't know. But the dog was more startled and just allowed it.
Same with Cujo when the little kid ran up while I was paying the bill at the counter. The kid ran up behind and full body hugged him. He was too startled by it, to actually react, and it's not so much that he was a good dog, but his reaction was acceptable, and we dodged a bullet so to speak.
Another dog that is not accustomed to that from a stranger might have reacted differently I am hearing. So the question is, do you socialize the dog and familiarize them with hugs and people up in their faces, or is it more the dogs that have people doing this, and are displaying increasing discomfort with it, the ones that are more likely to lash out?
I mean, if we dig around in a dog's food dish, and take shtuff away from the dog, and mess with it and give it back, we can create food aggressive issues where there might not have been any. Can we also create problems by pushing a dog to accept everything from everybody as a part of socialization, and if the dog doesn't seem to like it, flood the dog. When if we had left well enough alone, the one or two incidents that might happen when someone the dog does not trust gets into the dog's face, the dog will be startled/surprised, but not actually aggress to the point of a bite.
I did have a puppy that I placed, that I would pick up (he was a cute booger), and bring him up to my face and he would bite my nose. Every time. You would think I would learn. He was 13 weeks old. I figured he just saw my face as a huge toy, and the nose was sticking out, and if he was lucky, he could make the whole thing make noise. I was not sorry to see that one go. I told the people, "he bites."
I guess I am just fascinated with this topic. Someone suggested I start a generic dog bites kid thread. I think I would rather discuss dogs' attitude toward their face area, or other spots like paws or ears if they are problematic for some dogs.
Jenna, RN CGC & Babs, CD RA CGC HIC
Heidi, RA CGC
SG3 Odessa, SchH1, Kkl1, AD
Ninja, RN CGC & Milla, RN CGC
Joy, Star Puppy, RN CGC
Dolly CGC & Bear CGC