Identifying The Level Of Dog Snapping Within A Family Pet

Published: 05th January 2007
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If you have a dog that has a bad habit of snapping at people, especially children, then you should first understand what this behavior means and why your dog may be doing it. Snapping is usually thought of as being a signal that dogs use to drive other dogs or people away, without biting them or inflicting serious injury. Often considered an expression of irritability, snapping is also a form of communication that females use to keep their puppies from pestering them.

It is natural to expect dogs to use snapping as a form of communication with people. Dogs will usually not snap at adults to, whom they are subordinate. And with adults who are snapped at, it is usually only their hands that are at risk. With children, however, snapping can be dangerous, because a child's face is often level with the dog's head.

Centuries of selective breeding have attenuated this natural canine trait until dogs of some breeds now seem to be almost incapable of snapping, regardless of how much they are pestered. Yet however hard we try to train young children not to abuse or pester a dog until it becomes irritable, we cannot count on a child to always following instructions. Families with a young child at risk who still find themselves wanting a dog are therefore advised to select a breed that ranks low on snapping behavior.

Regarding a dog's tendency to snap at children, the experts say: "This question deals with a dog's tolerance for being poked, pulled, and handled by children, not always as kindly as we might like. Picture the prospective dog owners who want to feel confident that their dog, once it is an adult, will not snap at children. For such a person, can you rank these breeds from least to most likely to snap at children?"

Snapping is a characteristic that diners in prevalence from males to females, at least to a minor extent. According to the experts, males are in general somewhat more predisposed to snap than females. A good family or children's pet would necessarily have to rank low when it comes to snapping habits. However, other characteristics, such as high rankings on demand for affection, playfulness, and obedience training, and a low ranking on dominance, certainly enhance the profile of a good family dog. Snapping is one component of the overall reactivity, explained at the beginning of this article, and dogs that are low on snapping will tend to be low on other traits associated with reactivity.

Author: John Edwards

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