It’s Not About Dogs

John Bailey
2 min readJun 20, 2022

Imagine you have a large dog.

It has big sharp teeth, but has never bit, much.

Until recently.

You could decide to keep it in a muzzle to create an artificial handicap. And you could keep it in a cage, to “prevent it having access”. You could warn everyone to be careful.

This is an authoritarian/domination strategy, incurious about the animal, its health, needs, and motivations.

An even more authoritarian/domination strategy, even more incurious (dull) is to just kill it. Who cares why it bites? If it bites, it dies; the end.

However, a person interested enough to be curious might inquire of an actual expert like a veterinarian or animal behaviorist about WHY the animal might behave this way.

Because animals do not randomly become violent without some reason. And, because it might be easier on everyone to cure the behavior at the motivation rather than by domination and force.

The veterinarian might run tests to determine the dog’s health.

Because it is natural for animals in pain to lash-out.

Is there a health problem? Is the animal in pain? The health issue could possibly be treated.

And, when the animal is no longer in pain it will not lash-out.

The behaviorist might watch the animal and interact with them to find out what motivates it to this behavior.

Because it is natural for animals in fear or other distress to lash-out.

Does it have unmet needs? Is someone abusing it without your knowledge? Were you abusing it yourself?

If there’s an abuser, maybe the abuser (rather than the dog) can be put into a cage; the abuse ended; and the animal calmed and reassured through careful appropriate interaction.

And, when it is no longer in fear or distress, it will not lash-out.

Force and domination disclose greed. Because the demand for inequitable outcomes requires it. Force and domination also disclose dullness. Because the dull can find no other path to peace — even with an animal as social as a dog.