Dog bite: Misunderstood body language

Channel News 9 Anchor Kyle Dyer Unnecessarily Bitten

There were a lot of mistakes that happened not only on the TV interview but also from the preceding day’s dramatic event of Max’s near drowning in frigid waters. I will approach this whole very sad story from an educational standpoint.

Let’s begin at the beginning. This dog was off leash and did not have a solid recall (come command). He was chasing a coyote and ended up on this icy pond when they both fell through the ice. We have all seen the footage of the rescue by the fire fighter. If the owner had been responsible this never would have happened. This dog was not properly trained and the cost of this irresponsibility has been devastating in a myriad of ways. Our tax dollars were unnecessarily spent when the fire fighter rescued the dog, the trauma to the dog from the near drowning, the law suit and trial dollars that will need to be spent, the quarantine the dog is now subjected to, the cost of the medical bills and worst of all Kyle Dyer, who was bitten in the face has to deal with the physical and emotional trauma and none of this should have happened.

This dog never got to recover from his trauma, instead was dragged onto a TV set and put in front of a lot of strangers and an irresponsible dog owner who was probably still recovering from the incident as well. The folks at Channel 9 News did not do their due diligence in fact finding about the dog, the owner and or physical and emotional state of the dog. All of this served to be one big set up for this dog to fail. I am not by any means saying it was everyone else’s fault. What we are dealing with here is our complete lack of understanding of a dog’s psyche and how to read their signs of stress. When any animal is trying to convey signs of stress and their messages aren’t being received it’s an instinct to defend themselves. Max was doing his best to say “GET OUT OF MY SPACE!” We need to know these signs and potential dangers inherent in dogs, all dogs when they feel threatened or stressed and can’t find a way OUT.

I watched the video several times and the dog was telling Kyle Dyer that he was uncomfortable the entire time that she was petting him. The owner was reading the signs but he neglected to tell her to stop. If you look closely at the video you can see the owner had a very tight hold on Max’s collar and he was giving little tugs while she was petting him and getting closer to his face. The dog was trying to tell her to stop. ALL his body language was saying STOP and no one came to his rescue. He was pinned in between the owners legs (a defensive den behavior position) with no where to escape and the owner was adding to his fears with very tight tension on his collar/neck and in the dogs mind he was being threatened and had to defend himself.

If we learn the body language and energy of dogs there would be a lot less biting going on and everyone would be so much safer.

There is a huge lesson to be learned by this horrific situation and that is that we need to learn how to read the signs dogs are telling us. We need to learn what their ears, eyes, lips, body stance, tension in their body is telling us, to know when they are afraid so we can remove the dog or ourselves from a potentially scary and dangerous situation. This would eliminate dogs from biting and people getting hurt and/or killed. Dogs are animals first and we go around as if we are not dealing with a species that can bite and kill if they feel threatened. They will!

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