When a dog owner is interviewed by the media after their dog has been involved in an attack, they almost invariably say “he/she was a good dog. he just snapped”.
Of course an owner isn’t going to admit that they knew their dog was a ticking time-bomb. Either the owner is completely clueless, or more likely, they recognized the inappropriate behavior/temperament and chose to ignore it, rather than taking the necessary steps to manage or eliminate it.
Many times, after a dog attack has occurred, the neighbors will tell tales of the dog being loose in the street, menacing people and other dogs. There are often prior incidents with the dog nipping or biting someone.
For example – earlier this year, there was an incident in Indianapolis where a man was attacked by his neighbors dogs while taking the garbage out. After the attack, it came to light that there had been approximately 20 calls to animal control complaining of his dog running loose and aggressive behavior towards the neighbors – starting MONTHS before the attack. (Now, why animal control hadn’t confiscated the dog is another issue).
A responsible dog owner would have taken measures to prevent the attack by properly confining his dog. Obviously his fence wasn’t sufficient.
One of our recent adopters had experienced problems with her golden retriever. He frequently growled and snapped at people. This behavior didn’t come out of nowhere. She saw the behavior escalate over time.
This owner was responsible though – she recognized the behavior was dangerous, and took steps to prevent potential attacks. She never allowed the dog around her child, she used a slip leash on the dog whenever people would come to the house, and the dog was on a tie out and supervised when outside. As his inappropriate behavior grew in frequency and intensity, she took greater measures to ensure the safety of people around her dog.
Dogs don’t just “snap”. On the contrary. Most dogs exhibit escalating behavior before they bite. It’s up to us humans to recognize the signs and take steps to prevent it.