TikTok trending: pretending that your dog bit you might have unforeseen negative consequences

There is another TikTok trend brewing. They do tend to catch on. It’s amazing how people dream up new ways to attract viewers. They will do almost anything to achieve the goal standard of attracting millions of TikTok views. In this instance, dog owners are encouraging, if not provoking, their dogs to bite their hand. They don’t want their dog to really bite their hand but they want to give the impression to viewers that they have been bitten in a jokey way.

Tiktok viral trend of pretending your dog bit you has bad consequences for the dog
Tiktok viral trend of pretending your dog bit you has bad consequences for the dog. Screenshot.
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The problem is that they also give the impression to their dog that they are in distress. Dogs pick up on this sort of thing. And the reaction from some dogs is to lick the hand of their owner in an attempt to calm their owner down.

There are also instances – and the video on this page as an example – of owners being quite aggressive in trying to provoke their dog to open their mouths so that they can put their hand inside it. This is unpleasant.

Note: This is an embedded video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source or the video is turned into a link which stops it working here. I have no control over this.


Newsweek sought the thoughts of a dog behaviour expert on this viral trend. It might not be as innocent and as much fun as it looks. A particularly unpleasant aspect of these videos is that this kind of provocative behaviour by a human towards their dog can undermine the relationship.

Joe Nutkins, a dog trainer accredited with the Kennel Club said that it is unnatural to open dogs’ mouths in an “inorganic” way. I take that to mean that it is unnatural to use these methods to make them open their mouths wide.

She believes that many dogs find this sort of interaction with their owners to be unnatural and it might make them become what she calls “hand shy”. I interpret this to mean a dog becomes cautious when interacting with the hand of their owner and their owner generally. I guess this makes sense. If an owner is slapping their dog’s face to get them to open their mouth, it may result in the dog becoming averse to this sort of behaviour and it may induce negative behaviour in their dog from the owner’s perspective.

In short, dog owners who engage in this sort of TikTok viewer-chasing are potentially jeopardising their relationship with their dog and because of that it is an example of bad dog caregiving. It is sacrificing the quality of dog caregiving at the high altar of TikTok success.

And this is something we see a lot of on social media. We see it with cats. Cats become stressed when they are encouraged to try and entertain the public on YouTube videos. ‘Funny cat videos’ may be funny to some people but they can be made at the expense of the cat’s emotional well-being.

For the TikTok video makers the funny bit comes from the dog’s reaction to their owner pretending to be hurt by a non-existent bite. Some dogs are unfazed while others seem guilt-ridden. Viewers find this hilarious.

Dogs are very much in tune with their master’s emotions. If they feel guilty because they think they have harmed their owner, they will lick the hand or face of the owner is a ‘calming signal’. Dog experts view this behaviour as a way of saying sorry. But most often dogs don’t really understand what is going on. They don’t understand that they are being accused of biting their owner. But they do see an upset owner.

If their owner is holding their hand as if it’s painful their dog might want to try and help and become unnecessarily stressed.

Nutkins said:

“There is still so much concern shown by the dogs towards their owners where they believe their owner is suddenly in pain.”

Some dogs are less confident than others. For a nervous, timid dog this kind of tomfoolery may cause them to shut down, Nutkins said. It may induce negative behavioural traits such as pacing, excessive paw licking and other obsessive behaviours.

The conclusion that I have is that, as mentioned, dog and cat owners can push the boundaries of their relationship too far in trying to achieve success on social media through viral videos.

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