Pets Do Scratch and Bite. HOWEVER-A Bite Is Not A Bite, A Scratch Is Not Always A Scratch!!



I have heard all kind of things from people about their pets.  People have about as many ideas as there are possibilities, which mean that there is no shortage, that is of course unless people run out of creative juices, and their imagination goes dormant.

Nevertheless most people agree that pet bites and scratches are not a good thing unless the pet is warding off obvious harm.  By obvious, I mean that the animal physically wards off danger from an intruder, a criminal, etc.  We then applaud the animal.

Scratches are often seen as less excusable, because their reasons are less obvious.

Actually it doesn’t take much detective work to come to this conclusion.  I don’t say this lightly.  I say this because from my experience.  Very often when an animal/pet is acting act out/misbehaving by biting or urinating outside of the litter box, it is in reaction to something tat is being done to the animal.  I am not saying that there aren’t there aren’t animals that don’t bite and have other undesirable behaviors because of who they are.  (Sometimes they are born acting out because of something in the brain that causes this.  Sometimes there is an emotional problem that causes this.  This is usually the exception.  The following story is a case in point.

This is a story, true story, about Alaskan Malamutes.  On the surface that is what this story appears to be about, but not really.  A client called me for feedback, really for reassurance that they haven’t made a mistake.  She and her husband had two Alaskan Malamutes and brought home a new one, one that had been abused and needed a new home.   Within a few days the new family member bit her husband and had snapped at one of the dogs.  They were uneasy.  No one could blame them.

I looked at the situation in the way that I do by getting quiet and letting the information come to me before speaking.  It was obvious to me that this new family member was testing to see if the humans who send him away as others had done to him.  Animals will, as humans will do, test the waters.  No one wants to open up their heart if their world isn’t safe.

Now the bite was a different issue.  The dog was attempting to tell his human to back off.  The man acknowledged this.  He had been trying to take the dog outside with the other dogs. He didn’t want to go outside and walked back into the house.  The man said that something told him to leave the dog alone and he didn’t listen to his own advice One more time he reached out to grab the collar and that is when the dog bit him.  I explained that this dog had no other way of letting him know that no he didn’t want to go outside. The man agreed that he and been warned.  A boundary had sent, and he had crossed the line.

This is a valuable lesson to those of us who love and live with pets. Listen to them.  Mostly, they make their wishes known before acting out by biting or scratching.  This undesirable behavior is a response to humans responding in an unpleasant way after being told  NO!

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