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Q&A on Dogs that Bite People

I get a number of emails from people whose dogs have bitten people. Some of these bites are accidents and I will offer advice on correcting the dogs behavior. Some of these people are accidets waiting to happen and they should not own dogs. I'll let you be the judge.


My 2 year old shepherd mix/?? has bitten four people. I rescued him at four months. In our home and with his family he is very well behaved. He is a big boy but very gentle. In general he has always been very well-behaved and easily trained.

The first bite was when he was about a year old, he nipped at the cable man who was working inside my home. The man and I were argueing and when he walked toward me, I backed up. My dog was behind him and nipped at his calf with no damage at all. I didn't think much about it since it seemed as though he was protecting me at the time.

About a month later, I was on the porch with him. We live in the country but do have neighbors very close. Our neighbor was driving down the road and my dog ran towards the car and did not come back when I called him. The neighbor hit him hard and he sustained some serious injuries that took a few months to heal. The neighbors son came to check on him a few weeks later and accidently fell on the dog. The dog had an elizabethan protective collar on and was pinned up against the wall. The dog reacted and bit him on the back of the calf. Everyone was very understanding, assuming the dog was hurting and reacted.

A few months later, the father of the boy was in our yard attending a burn pile with my husband. He picked up a pitch for and walked toward the fire. My dog ran up behind him and bit him in the back of both calves.

At this point, my husband and our neighbors decided the dog was dangerous and wanted me to get rid of him. I refused but have taken every precaution to keep him safely away from them.

Recently, the neighbors on the other side started building just six feet from our fence line and they have different workers there every day. The dog runs up and down the fence line barking at their workers as well as their dog that is allowed to run loose all the time. I was told today that my dog stuck his head through the fence and bit one of the workers bad enough that he needed to go to the emergency room.

I really feel that these incidences were caused by the people around him and their actions. But I also feel that they have left him with some issues or instability that I don't understand.

Brinkley is my constant companion and I just adore him. The idea of giving him up or worse, putting him down, has me constantly in tears. However, I don't want to be irresponsible either. What are your thoughts on his behavior? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Ed's Answer:

What I believe is that this is more of a problem with you than a problem with the dog. You have acted completely irresponsibly in regard to this dog.

You need to train this dog, keep him in a dog kennel or a dog crate and when he is out he need to be on a leash 100% of the time.

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