In a case of recent history repeating itself, President Joe Biden’s dog Major is back in the spotlight following yet another biting incident on the lawns of the White House. As the rescue dog struggles to find his feet in his new surroundings, reports are emerging that Major nipped a National Park Service employee as they were tending to the south lawn of the White House.
"Yes, Major nipped someone on a walk,” says Jill Biden’s press secretary Michael LaRosa. “Out of an abundance of caution, the individual was seen by the White House Medical Unit and then returned to work without injury."
This latest brush with controversy follows a biting incident earlier this month when 3-year-old Major caused injury to a Secret Service Agent who caught him by surprise. At the time, White House press secretary Jen Psaki referred to the injury as "minor," and said that Major’s out-of-character behavior was a result of him trying to settle into his new home
It’s a sentiment echoed by LaRosa who said on Monday night that “Major is still adjusting to his surroundings.” The late Dr. Sophia Yin, one of the world’s greatest animal behaviorist experts, wrote extensively about dog behavior and believed that in most cases the cause of biting isn’t meanness but fear, a common emotion in rescue dogs.
“Generally, fearful dogs start off by trying to stay away from the things that scare them,” said Yin, “But as they are confronted with scary situations repeatedly, they can learn that offense (barking, snapping, biting) is their best defense because it makes the scary people go away.”
While Yin believes most rescue dogs quickly get used to their adopted families, frequent new faces are another story. “Dogs quickly got used to their adoptive families within a few days or weeks because it’s easy to get used to people who are constantly around them, but new people who pop into their lives fleetingly are another story.”
For young pup Major, 2021 has seen some big changes as he and his brother Champ left behind their life in Delaware to take up residence in the White House. Going from seeing just a few familiar faces each day to many new faces every week is a huge adjustment, and while Major has only recently returned to the White House after undergoing extensive behavior training, it may take continued work to help him feel comfortable in his new environment.
Training a rescue dog often involves more time and effort than training a puppy, but with kindness and patience, amazing results can be achieved. Let’s hope Major is soon feeling safe and secure in his new home.
Interested in reading more about Major and other rescue dogs? Check out the following:
- Meet the Biden dogs: New POTUS brings shelter dog to the White House
- Follow Champ and Major on Instagram and Twitter for pawsome updates
- Rescue for senior dogs: Advice on adopting an older dog
- Adorable Maltese called Lamb Chop is named 'world's cutest rescue dog' of 2020
- 10 animal rescue social media accounts that will melt your heart
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