(If your dog has already bitten someone, you should head to this post.)
It’s time to have this conversation! This is the conversation where we talk about when it’s acceptable for a dog to bite a person.
“My dog bit someone, but it’s okay because they were guarding their food/favorite toy, and that’s instinctive for dogs.”
No. It’s not okay for your dog to guard their food/favorite toy from a human and, in doing so, bite a person. The appropriate response is for your dog to give up the food/favorite toy. That, by the way, is also instinctive for dogs.
“But it’s their favorite.”
“And the person got up in their face.”
“And this was after I told the person repeatedly that my dog bites, and they needed to leave my dog alone.”
That sounds like an annoying situation and person. But it doesn’t matter. Your dog still shouldn’t have bitten that person. Your dog was in the wrong no matter what the person was doing. And if you know your dog bites, why was it around people you had to warn away?
“I was having a party.”
Do you have a bedroom you can put your dog? Or a muzzle for your dog?
“…Okay, but my dog bit a person and it’s okay because my dog is afraid of children, and this stranger let their kid run right up to my dog and my dog snapped out of terror.”
Aww. Poor puppy. I can see how that would be scary. But it’s still not okay for your dog to bite someone. Your dog is still in the wrong.
“But they were under attack!”
Yeah. They need to learn to retreat instead of biting. It’s not okay.
“My dog bit someone, but it’s okay because–”
No. It’s still not okay for your dog to bite someone. Don’t even go there.
“But this person BROKE INTO MY HOUSE.”
Ah! Okay. Now let’s talk legalities. In the state of California (you’ll have to look up your own state laws if you live outside of California) a dog is considered a weapon, and is therefore subject to the same rules as one. You can shoot someone if they’re breaking into your house. You can shoot someone who is threatening you. You cannot shoot someone who has broken in your house but is trying to leave. So: Was the person who broke into your house threatening you or still breaking in when your dog bit them?
Then that was an acceptable time to bite someone.
Alternately, “No, they were running away.”
Then it’s not okay that your dog bit them.
“But they broke into my house!”
I know. I’m not saying if it’s morally right or wrong, I’m just telling you what the law says.
“But dogs are predators, and they chase and bite fleeing people! How am I supposed to call my dog off someone who broke in and is now running away?”
Lots of training. Your dog was in the wrong.
“My dog bit someone, but it’s okay because I hate that someone.”
You hate that someone… and so your put your dog’s life at risk by encouraging them to bite? First off, I think you need to check your priorities, and second off, that’s still not okay.
“My dog bit someone, but it’s okay because it was at a party and someone stepped on my poor dog, and they bit in their panic.”
That is awful. But it’s still not okay for your dog to bite someone.
“My dog bit someone, but–”
Hsssst! Bad dog. No biting!
(This post has been brought to you by alllll the many excuses I’ve heard over the years. It is never okay for your dog to bite someone. Full stop. No more excuses: if you have this problem, it’s time to solve it!)