“I Don’t need a Leash

My Dog Doesn’t Bite”


Steven D. Nicely



Famous last words unless you have pulled the teeth of your dog it will bite. Even with its teeth gone it will try. Why, because it is programmed to bite. Dogs bite for various reasons and given the right one the mildest and weakest dog will bite.


The picture to the right is the result of one bite. It demonstrates the power of a dog. The breed was a Belgian Malinois. Having been in the police dog field for over thirty years I have seen the effects of what a dog can do. Some years ago I was involved as a consultant in an out of control police dog. The dog caused over 40 punctures to the person, and should have never been allowed to be on the street. This is the only incident I have ever heard of were a police dog was allowed to inflict this much damage. Most pet owners and sadly very few pet dog trainers have ever seen first hand the power of a dog’s bite. With over 30 years of experience as a police dog handler and trainer I have worked with at least 5,000 dogs in various stages of training. As a handler I have had to release my dog to stop suspects. Also I have been to the emergency room for treatment about 10 times after being bitten myself. Three of those times I was hospitalized for up to ten days. One incident I nearly lost my little finger and spent 4 months in physical therapy to regain the use of my hands.

How dangerous can a dog be? On July 10, 1984 in Nashville Tennessee a police dog killed a suspect with one bite. Although this was a rare incident the dog’s first and only bite was to the throat of a burglar hiding under a vehicle. The dog’s only way to get to the suspect was face to face. The suspect was laying in wait for the officers. Police dogs are not trained to go to the throat but if that is the only target available they will seize it. Should a dog off leash knock someone down the results could be the same.

Police officers practice over and over on stopping their dog when in full pursuit of a suspect. Case law has dictated police dogs must be able to demonstrate the ability along with being able to stop aggression on command. If these abilities have not been demonstrated and documented their dogs are never to be off leash. Even with this control police officers still do not walk around with their dogs off leash. Pet dogs have no such requirements. That is why most cities have a leash law.

Ok, so your dog won’t bite? Will it defend itself if attacked, or if it feels cornered? Have you ever had to break up a dog fight? Do you know how? Before they are nose to nose can you tell which dogs will or will not tolerate your dog’s approach?

Let’s say your dog is off leash and your dog starts to approach another dog on leash. The owner of the other dog brings his or her dog close to them. Your dog continues. You know your dog has never started a dog fight so you allow it to continue. Your dog approaches the other dog and suddenly the other dog makes an aggressive move. This move causes your non aggressive dog to flee. The flight is into the path of another person and the result is an injury. Who is responsible? The injured party may seek legal remedies.