Taking a Second Look

Front of lips pulled back to show front teeth right before the bite.

Earlier this year a newswoman was bitten in the face by an Argentinian Mastiff that she was promoting through television. Having been caught on tape, this video went viral and many people were criticized. Instead of criticizing it any further, I wanted to take a second look at the video and make some observations about the dog’s behavior that were clear indications of what the dog was feeling. Here is the video:

 

My very first obersvation isn’t about the dog or news achor at all. It is that the dog’s owner is holding his collar very tightly and holding the dog back. Her owner keeps petting and tugging the dog’s ear.  This tells me that the owner is very uncomfortable and does not trust the dog to act appropriately on his own. It is important to notice that the news anchor did not catch on to the human’s body language or did she notice the dog’s lack of comfort.

This is also a great example to take into consideration and realize that not all licking means “I love you”. The dog licks A LOT during the video. Excessive licking is a clear sign of stress and/or anxiety. When the dog is not licking, it’s mouth is closed and its lips are very tight. There is also some panting and the dog is positioned so that his back is facing the woman and his head is turned towards her. Occasionally the dog shows whale eyes as well. (See my “Guide to Calming Signals” post)

The whole time, the woman has her hand holding the dog’s head up towards her. She constantly pets around his face with both her hands and her face only a few inches away. She stares down at him with direct eye contact.

Not only is the handling of the dog stressful, but it needs to be said that this dog is on set under hot spot lights, people moving all around with large cameras. It is a scene in which this dog has probably never been in before. That alone is incredibly stressful on a dog.

Front of lips pulled back to show front teeth right before the bite.

 

Dogs are not unpredictable if you know and pay attention to the signals they give off. This dog simply wanted to get the lady out of his face. The owner restraining him to that position made him feel defenseless and that was his last resort.  You can’t say the woman wasn’t warned!

Be sure to get to know your dog so that you two can communicate better and so that you can keep everyone safe!

Recommended reading on this incident: Analysis of the News Anchor