Why Did Barney the White House Dog Bite a Reporter?

November 14, 2008 // Franchising.com // Englewood, – As stories of Barney the White House Dog biting a reporter surface, Bark Busters, the world's largest dog training company, sheds light on the incident. Bark Busters explains why Barney bit the reporter and how you can prevent your dog from doing the same.

"Barney was not in the mood for attention from the reporter," said Liam Crowe, CEO and master dog behavioral therapist of Bark Busters USA. "Whether he was angry about the election or just unsure of the reporter, Barney's body language showed the reporter that he wasn't interested in the attention. By watching a dog's body language, incidents such as these are easily avoidable."

Why did Barney bite the reporter?

  1. Barney was on a leash, with no way to escape. Dogs on leash are often more tense or on edge because they cannot flee in a moment of stress or potential conflict.
  2. Barney's body language was very clear: "Leave me alone!" His body language showed that he was feeling scared or nervous. His ears were back, tail was down, head was down, body was very still. He was not looking at anyone and was trying to avoid conflict.
  3. When the reporter bent down to pet him, he hovered over him, and Barney possibly saw that as a physical confrontation, as this conveys overbearing or threatening body language. After all his other warning signals went unnoticed, Barney reacted and bit Associated Press reporter Jon Decker.

How could this have been avoided?

Never assume a dog wants to be petted. Allow the dog to come into your space, as opposed to you invading his like this reporter did. Allow the dog to smell you but don't put your hand out – let the dog come close to you on his own terms. Face the dog at all times, but don't make eye contact with the dog or stare – this can be perceived as a sign of aggression. Be calm in your movements, and avoid leaning over the dog, as this may be interpreted as a threat.

Although Barney won't have to deal with reporters and paparazzi for much longer, it is important to know why he lashed out. Bark Busters dog behavioral therapists, such as Liam Crowe, are renowned authorities in the area of dog behavior. Bark Busters' training system can successfully train any dog, even puppies. The company's natural training technique leverages the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctual pack mentality.

About Bark Busters:

Bark Busters, the world's largest, most trusted dog training company, started in Australia in 1989 and came to the United States in 2000. Since inception, over 400,000 dogs have been trained worldwide using its dog-friendly, natural methods. With 250+ franchised offices in 42 states and more than 400 offices in 10 countries, Bark Busters is continuing its mission to build a global network of dog behavioral therapists to enhance responsible dog ownership and reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia of companion dogs. Bark Busters is the only international dog training company that offers guaranteed lifetime support. SPCA International selected Bark Busters dog behavioral training services as the "Best of the Best" in its category. No other training company or dog trainer received such a distinction. To fetch a trainer in your area, call 1-877-500-BARK (2275) or visit www.BarkBusters.com, where dog owners can complete a Dog Behavioral Quiz to rate their dogs' behavior.

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