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Normal dog behaviour or worrying?

(7 Posts)
LesleyKnopeFan Fri 07-Nov-14 18:47:22

If a dog was really startled, would it be normal for it to react, snap and bite? Or is it a sign (however small) of a worrying aggression?

Dog in question has snarled and gone to nip but stopped before contact when disturbed whilst sleeping but assumed this was quite normal (let sleeping dogs lie).

This was, however, more of a big snap and a bite (no real damage done). Situation (looking at it now) was not surprising, dog was in a small dark cupboard, trying to eat something they shouldn't and was dangerous. Ignored being told, so was pulled out. By the reaction, they were completely stunned as ran off with tail between legs.

I understand why they snapped but I'm worried that this may prove the dog has aggression and may snap again?

SpicyBear Fri 07-Nov-14 19:21:50

Aggression isn't a disease that a dog does or doesn't have. Any dog has the potential to be aggressive given the right set of circumstances and triggers. These will vary a great deal along a broad spectrum from easily provoked to almost impossible to provoke.

I'm not sure "normal" is a helpful word when talking about dog aggression, but it would not be unusual for a dog to snap in that scenario - a combination of guarding the high resource item being eaten and handling they weren't comfortable with. There's a clear chain of events that lead to this particular dog feeling threatened enough to snap.

Yes of course without any behavioural work to help them feel better about relinquishing items and being handled they may snap again given the a similar trigger.

LesleyKnopeFan Fri 07-Nov-14 19:40:12

thanks for your reply. It's strange because the dog has shown no possessiveness over food or anything before, I've taken food off her before, removed premium foods from her bowl, whilst she's easting and she's not even blinked. It was the fright, shock and suddeness of my movement.

The kids know not to grab any dogs or startle them but I didn't think I was startling her, as I'd called her but she definitely hadn't heard, she jumped when I made contact.

Just worrying, really. She is acting very sheepishly (I screamed in shock and pain). She knows what she's done isn't quite right but I feel bad as if somebody had grabbed me like that, I would have reacted (I don't bite though).

tabulahrasa Fri 07-Nov-14 21:03:57

It's an understandable reaction...but I wouldn't find it an acceptable one, which is what I think you're asking rather than if it's a worrying sign that they may do something worse?

I'd be looking at it as something that needed working on.

VivaLeBeaver Fri 07-Nov-14 21:10:36

Pulling the dog out was a mistake.

Ideally you should have distracted the dog with something else. So offered the dog a squeaky toy or treat. Dog comes out cupboard and you shut the door.

Some dogs would react badly when pulled out, others wouldn't. I have one dog which would bite for being pulled out, one wouldn't.

SpicyBear Fri 07-Nov-14 23:02:23

Have there been fireworks where you live? If so, even a dog that isn't displaying outward signs of it can be quite stressed.

Another thing to consider is pain - is there any consistency with where she was touched on the two occasions she snapped? If not, it may just be the shock. Dogs can certainly switch off to us when they are engrossed in something.

EasyToEatTiger Sat 08-Nov-14 08:33:56

I think your dog sounds perfectly normal. He didn't know that what he was eating was dangerous and he was having a private moment. One of our dogs was quite snarly and growly but not dangerous. I agree with Viva re: diversionary tactics. It's not always possible to behave in the most appropriate way, but a small change in our behaviour can make a big difference to a dog.

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