Dog trainers explain what prompts dogs to bite someone

Joe Biden’s dog Commander is out of the White House after a string of bites. We spoke to professional dog trainers about what causes dogs to bite.


Joe Biden’s dog Commander has left the White House. The 2-year-old German shepherd bit a Secret Service agent on Monday. It was the latest of several biting incidents for the first pooch.

NICK WHITE: Obviously, the dog isn’t comfortable in that environment.


That’s Nick White. He’s a former Secret Service agent and owner of Off Leash K9 Training. White says that White House dogs can deal with hundreds of people a day.

WHITE: Secret Service to White House staff to Navy staff to contractors who are coming in and out.

FADEL: It’s a tough place for people, let alone dogs. Author and veteran dog trainer Robin Bennett says it’s important to identify the specifics of what triggers a bite.

ROBIN BENNETT: Is it fast-moving objects? Is the dog protecting his bed? Is he scared of people that have sunglasses on?

MARTÍNEZ: Now, if sunglasses are a big fear, it helps if the dog’s given a high-value treat by the person wearing sunglasses.

BENNETT: So after a while, the dog says people with glasses are great ’cause I get chicken when I see them.

FADEL: White says the No. 1 reason for aggression in dogs is a lack of socialization at a young age.

WHITE: We’re seeing that a lot with what we call the COVID dogs. So those dogs and those people weren’t going out to stores with their dogs. They weren’t going out to parks.

FADEL: With dogs, you should never assume the problem is going to fix itself.

WHITE: In general in dogs, I would say even like people, behavioral issues are going to get worse over time. They’re not going to improve over time.

MARTÍNEZ: So if your dog is biting, White says it’s cheaper to get a dog trainer now than to pay for the damage later.