What is wrong with this?

What is wrong with this?


There is nothing in this video to be laughed at. Had the dog wished to bite the child, in this given situation it could have and would have but it chose not too however that is not the point.

I could merely share this video as a warning as many people/trainers have done on FB but that doesnt really help anyone does it? I hope that this will be helpful to anyone wishing to learn more about canine body language or dog / child interactions.

To help in understanding the interaction I’ve gone through and laid out the use of body language simply and easily in bullet points. For the purposes of simplicity we will call the dog ‘he’.

So, for educational purposes, here is a break down of the video:

  • The first and most obvious sign is the dog snapping. This is a clear warning and one that dogs will usually give off after a series of more subtle warnings have been ignored and before feeling the need to escalate if not heeded.
  • 0:00 – Right from the start we can see the dog is not comfortable.
  • 0:00 – The child begins to move towards him and his first reaction is to move his head away/back slightly.
  • 0:01 – As the child moves in the dogs brow furrows, he visibly tenses up.
  • 0:02 – His ears begin to pull back and as he moves his head further back, you can begin to see the whites of his eyes
  • 0:03 – His face becomes taught/sunken around the eye and cheek area and his mouth begins to pull right back at the corners as he is further stressed.

Make no mistake, in just over 5 seconds the dog has given all of these signs to indicate that he is uncomfortable and wishes the interaction to end, he has made this very clear right from the start. Very early on in this interaction, perhaps prior to the video commencing it would have been better to move the dog somewhere that it could have space away from the child, in order to help create positive associations it could perhaps have been left with a stuffed kong, favourite toy or other high value treat to enjoy and help him to relax. The child would be better educated to give the dog space and not invade the dogs space and especially not to put its face into the dogs in the manner shown here.

  • 0:06 – At the end of this first interaction as the child begins to let go the dog snaps. He does no harm but has delivered a VERY clear message that he is not comfortable with the interaction.
  • 0:07 – At the very end of this initial interaction you see the dog end with a brief tounge flick which is yet another stress sign.

Children are never too young to learn, by laughing it encourages the child to think this is a funny thing to do and it is likely to repeat the behaviour either with this dog or others. It would be better to explain to the child what it should and shouldnt do and why so it can learn from interactions and be safer in future. Punishing the dog at this point would only create more negative associations so removing it quietly from the situation and contacting a qualified behaviourist to help with the situation and behavioural training is the correct course of action.

  • 0:08 – As the child moves around you can see the dog remains tense and his eyes are not taken off of the child at this point.
  • 0:09 – The child then leans in and the dog then offers a head turn (slightly away) again signalling that he does not want further interaction but the child continues to approach
  • 0:11 – At this point the dog snaps for a second time.

Understanding appropriate / inappropriate canine interactions is an important part of dog ownership.

Too many times the words ‘it happened without warning’ are uttered when, at least from the dog’s point of view, this simply isn’t true………….