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Old 02-26-2014, 06:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 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.
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Old 02-26-2014, 07:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Gosh, I don't know, a couple of questions about whether socializing dogs that have a problem with personal space might make them more dangerous, and whether our responses to a dog that has personal space issues might increase the problem.

I suppose, I am just interested in a general discussion about personal space issues and aggression in dogs, particularly the in your face and hugging stuff.
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Old 02-26-2014, 07:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by selzer View Post
. 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?
You do your best to get your dog used to handling. I think it works best when you get him as a pup.

But if the dog doesn't like whatever is being done to him, I do believe that one day the bite will ensue, meaning, "What part of I don't like that don't you understand? Here, let me escalate and get my point across more clearly..."

It really depends on the temperament of the dog.
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Old 02-26-2014, 07:15 PM   #4 (permalink)
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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.
Everyone's training methods are different and I know most here are horrified at the way I train. But I do get down on the floor with the pup. Right in his face and his in mine. I also pick him up and cuddle him to my face. I touch his paws, his ears, his tail and look in his mouth everyday! But then again I also put my hands in his food bowl pick up food and hand feed. My adult dogs (the one's I've raised) will let me take anything away from them and they will tolerate a lot of in your face from people. That being said I also think a lot of it is genetic. Buddy is bomb proof. He is absolutely rock solid and has proven it time and time again. Ivan is skittish. I got him from the shelter, he is a mix of lab and god knows what. I don't know what happened before I got him but I think if a stranger got in his face the way I do, they might get bitten so I don't let strangers get in his face.
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Old 02-26-2014, 07:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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A lot of it is temperament. A lot can be done to make a puppy tolerant of THB (typical human bull****) but once you have an older dog especially after the 2 year mark it usually becomes way harder to deal with and generally becomes a management thing.

We have a dog in board and train atm who is 7 and has bitten for people getting in his face or getting huggy and touchy with him. I haven't seen any issues from him yet because i dont do it so we get on just fine. Now at some point after i build some trust with him ill try to get him to become more tolerant of it but he will probably never be that cuddly type of dog. Its just a part of his personality now. To a certain extent i think you just have to respect that.
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Old 02-26-2014, 07:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Since my husband does not like a lot of socialization when he's home (he gets a ton at work), it was difficult to social Molly to other people. She definitely loves that our immediate family and cats are in her face, and she licks back, but I'd never want to test her on another person. While we are at the vet, and the vet techs are listening to her heart at her level she will try to lick their face, she knows they like her. We also have a business neighbor that clearly loves all dogs and she will let him get in her face.

My neighbor has a very sweet, submissive female pitbull. This is her first dog. Since hers is so sweet, maybe she thought all were sweet and while on a walk by herself, she saw another pitbull and bent down to the dog's level to pet and say hello, I guess she was too close and the stranger pitbull bit her in the face, requiring and ER visit and plastic surgery 6 months later on her upper lip. Ever since her story I am apprehensive about getting too close to another dog's face, even if the owner says its very nice.

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Old 02-26-2014, 07:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I guess I have enough dogs that I do not need to get doggy kisses from other people's dogs. I think a lot of it comes down to when the dog comes up to you, licks your hand, comes over and checks your face out -- like at the vet, usually the techs are not right in the dog's face, but the dog will move their head and sniff and lick at them.

But yeah, listening to other people's horror stories makes you think, what if? I mean, we think we know our dogs. But maybe that pit owner thought she knew her dog too. Maybe she was flabbergasted that her dog did that.
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Old 02-26-2014, 07:32 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default generic question about personal space and biting

Here's our 16 month old Lady: she regularly gets picked up so that she stands on her back heels and held, she has her bones and favorite treats taken away mid-chew, she has 5 different people on a daily basis-4 of which are teens, coming and going, in her face, rubbing her paws and ears and tail(which she does NOT like), and one, 19 years old, has always straddled her and pretended like she was horse....not one time have we ever been scared or worried...but I have told them many, many times, that they have to protect HER...that if she is allowed to get in trouble and hurts someone, everything changes. When we go out, I often move away from people because she is so excited and I am afraid she will accidentally hurt someone. If someone approaches her I ask them to wait for a minute and the humans converse about how excited she is--so they are warned about how happy she will be to see them...I ultimately feel it's my job to protect her😎

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Old 02-26-2014, 07:32 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default generic question about personal space and biting

This is good topic. And a confusing one. I know my opinions differ quite a bit, even as I was thinking about my reply.

I expect my dogs to allow me to do anything I want to them. If I open their mouth to look inside, they better allow it. Same with hugging, restraining, picking up feet, lifting tail. If I had a family living with me, the same would go for everyone that lives in my house. It's non negotiable. That does not mean I spend my time testing and training these behaviors. I just do them and move on.

If I had not done my job and for some reason my dog did not perceive other family members as having that respect as well, then I have failed.

Now for John Q. Public. This is where I start getting wishy washy. I, personally would not knowingly take a dog to a public place without being sure of their response. But, to be sure if their response, you have to take them. So I generally pick smaller events, or go in knowing that I may have to leave if it proves overwhelming to my dog.

For example. I KNOW my female Lena can be very snarky with other dogs. So she does not get brought to large events with lots of dogs. She can handle fewer dogs in a quiet setting, so she gets to go the lake and winery tours with a few friends and their dogs.

Now my puppy Nix, he is only 13 months. We did a few events this year, but he is getting older, less puppyish. So this year I will have to expose him carefully so I can judge his reaction. If I deem him not safe, he won't get to continue going or get to go to bigger events. The first few events this spring, I will be be overly diligent and watching his body language. And I have zero problem telling people not to touch him. If and when I deem him trustworthy, then I will take him to events known to have children. While I expect parents to watch their children, kids are kids and many parents assume if the dog is out at big public event then they are safe. Whether this is right or not. It is my job to make sure I don't contribute to a problem. So yes, I expect, if I am relaxed, that my dog allow a stranger to pet them,
Or a child to hug them. That said, I am always diligent, and if I see a kid coming over, I greet them and turn my dogs back to them, so they don't charge the dogs face. Then, once I know the dog is calm I allow kisses.

I never force my dog. If they seem uncomfortable, I remove them from the stimulus. We go on a walk, I put them in the car, we hide and smoke a cigarette(well I smoke)

Not every dog can be like that, it is up to the owner to read and understand their dog. And not force them into a situation that is dangerous. It does not mean the dog is a bad dog.

I don't expect every dog to like strangers in their face. It's very rude. I do expect owners to KNOW this about their dog and mitigate the situation so that the dog does not bite anyone.

If you know your dog does not like strangers in their close proximity, don't take them to events with an uncontrollable element.

But at home, inside the family, that same dog better accept anything.














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Old 02-26-2014, 07:36 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I always stick my hands in my dogs food bowls, I have done a really good job at making sure i can take anything away from them (not like i go around yanking things away) but if i ever needed to take something they were not supposed to have i can with no problems. I have also micro managed shilohs food problem (she was food aggressive with other dogs bad!) i put her in a crate for the first long while then i moved dexters food bowl closer and closer to the outside of the crate, and now well, she eats out of the crate beside Dexter no issues and she even shares the plate lickings with them. I also fixed the weird water thing she had going on by adding a third water bowl to the basement who knew one more water bowl was the trick.
Honestly though, i cant really say they would not take a chunk out of a random person for sticking their hands in their food, or removing something from their mouth. I also cant say i would trust either of the boys to tolerate a running screaming toddler, maybe shiloh because as i have said before she just adores and thinks people are king.
I also feel that i should beable to give my dog a hug or kiss anytime i want, and i do! sorry if i am off topic here im tired tonight.


We dont have running screaming toddlers all of the kids are over 10 and they are boys so most of the time they are not even interested in the dogs, infact we have to pay them to walk the dogs, the dogs were a novelty that wore off a long time ago and was replaced by call of duty black ops.

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