If you’ve seen the news in the last couple of days, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the newscaster who was bitten by a dog during a live television broadcast. The newscaster, Kyle Dyer, was doing a piece on the rescue of Gladiator Maximux, an 85-pound Argentine mastiff, from an icy lake near Denver.
Described as a “vicious” bite, Dyer had to be taken to the hospital and had to have some reconstructive surgery performed. The dog is in quarantine and the owner has been cited for not having control of his dog, not having it on a leash and not having its shots up to date.
My question is: why hasn’t Dyer been cited for stupidity?
When I first read the story, I could see the situation unfold in my mind; and the way I imagined it was a plethora of signs displayed by the dog that went unnoticed. That story went on to quote dog experts and behaviorists as saying exactly that; Max was telling Dyer to get away from him and to back off, and if she didn’t he would bite.
This is not the dog’s fault and the owner should not have been cited for not controlling his dog. He had a hold of the dog’s collar and Dyer came into the dog.
Rarely do dogs attack without telling you they’re going to do so. The problem is most people don’t recognize the signs. That goes for dog-human interactions and conflicts between dogs.
Watch two dogs the first time they meet and you’ll quickly see the displays. Posturing, tail height, ear position; the body language they display is an attempt to figure out where each is in the pecking order and who has the right of way, so to speak.
It’s fine if one dog is naturally very subordinate and another is dominant. They’ll get along just fine. Problems arise, however, when the dogs are similarly matched or when a more dominant dog continues to push on a more subordinate dog.
With two dogs, watch their tails. The tails will tell you what’s going on inside that dog. The higher the tail, the more he’s posturing a “tough guy” mentality. If both dogs’ tails are up, and hackles start to rise, get ready because a fight is about to start. You should put an end to the posturing immediately with a loud verbal correction and if on a leash a snap and recall to heel. The other dog should be put in line, too.
As for human-dog interactions, every toddler is taught not to approach a dog it doesn’t know. That’s a lesson Dyer should have heeded. For even though she was doing a piece on the dog, she didn’t need to, as reported early, get down in the dog’s face. Getting down to eye level with a dog and moving in close is a very aggressive move. Make no mistake, she brought the fight to the dog and caused the problem. That doesn’t mean it’s okay for the dog to bite, as they never should bite humans, but you can’t persecute the dog for a human’s stupid mistake either.
Take a look at the image above. That dogs is telling her he’s going to bite if she doesn’t back off. He’s a trapped animal and she’s invading his space in a very domineering manner; it was a natural reaction. Everyone in the room missed the cues and failed to stop the progression that the reporter was initiating.
Humans might not be able to fix stupid, but dogs and other animals in nature have a very effective way of doing so.