“I wear these,” the man said proudly as he held up both hands in thick quilted oven mitts. “He was hurting me,” he continued, looking down at the small, white, smiling pup at his feet.
I nodded while inwardly I sighed. Good intentions but wearing padding while playing with your dog—whether a hand puppet dog toy or thick oven mitts—is not a good plan at all. In fact, when training protection dogs to bite and bite hard, people wear thick suits to protect themselves. (As shown here.→)
Wearing such protection encourages the dog to bear down as hard as they can and encourages the person to egg the dog on. Unfortunately, that was exactly what happened with this Bichon. The man gleefully “attacked” the pup with the oven mitts, causing the dog to leap up, latch up and shake the mitt as hard as he good. The man laughed, praising the dog for what he perceived as “hysterical” play-aggression.
Why was I called in? The dog was biting the kids hands—hard—during play. And now I fully understood why.
What the man had taught his dog was that it was okay to bite as hard as he could during play and that the more excited he became, the harder he could (and, in fact, should) bite.
The first thing I did was relegate the oven mitts back to cooking duty. We need to help our dogs learn to be careful with their mouths and not rough.
I haven’t thought about this situation for years until, as I was scrolling through new dog toys over on Amazon, I came across hand puppet dog toys. A lion and an alligator just made for “attacking” a puppy or dog. Any playful human will be making the sound effects that go with it working the dog into a frenzy of excitement and, as seems likely, encouraging the dog to “attack” the lion or gator.
The road to hell will be, again, paved with good intentions.
I would add these to the “Don’t buy, Don’t use” shelf with laser pointers, then I’d go buy fun interactive toys and maybe a tricks book to teach calm, productive play and games. I want you to have fun with your dog, just not fun that’s going to come back and bite you.