Sigmund Freud would say about my dog, Apollo, that he is a prime example of oral stage fixation. His mouth is just so important.
His mouth is just so important.
Apollo is food orientated – he just loves food, and this is why he has been so easy to train. Oh can he learn those commands in no time, as long as you’re waving a treat in front of him. Of course he is also food aggressive – selectively though. He will let you retrieve kibble, but not a bone. He will growl at our foster dogs before, during and after dinner time, but not at the two dogs in our family.
Before his mouth can enjoy the food he adores (all sorts of food, apart from vegetables, unless they are dipped in salmon oil or something like that), it is being prepared for it. He drools. Sometimes he drools so much that it’s a shame we haven’t figured out ways to use saliva as an alternative and eco friendly source of energy. His anticipation of the enjoyment his mouth is about to experience, is measured by his mouth (not the tail, not the eyes. THE MOUTH)
Before his mouth can enjoy the food he adores, it is being prepared for it.
Another thing that proves the importance of his mouth is his bark. Apollo is a strong(ish), medium size dog, but if you can’t really see him, and only hear him bark, you imagine a prehistoric predator the size of an elephant. One of his best friends ended up with ear drum damage, after having Apollo bark at his ear every night (ok that probably wasn’t the reason why, but we joked about it a lot, and it was funny because it was so believable)
Another thing that proves the importance of his mouth is his bark.
And then of course, there is the TEETH! Ah, those teeth! The mouth’s heavy artillery..
Apollo’s teeth are freakin scary! It’s not that they are different to any other dog’s really. It’s just the way he shows them off every chance he gets. He shows off his teeth while playing, he shows off his teeth after one and a half minute of unnecessary cuddling, he shows off his teeth during our training sessions, you get the point.
His whole mouth is a caricature creature on its own, with the teeth being the frontman.
Apollo is showing off his scary, dangerous teeth not in a threatening way, but in a cartoon kind of way. It’s his way of saying look at me, his way of saying I really like this game, his way of being affectionate even. His whole mouth is a caricature creature on its own, with the teeth being the frontman.
After the showing off of the teeth, never ever ever has there been a bite. If you don’t know the dog, you’re scared. If you know the dog, you laugh. Of course there are accidental bites – “I was aiming for the toy and your hand got on the way”, these kinds of bites, that definitely do not count. Every time he misses the puller toy and his teeth land on my hand (ouch), I realize the strength of that mouth and the harm those teeth could possibly cause if they wanted to – but they don’t.
The dogs’ social skills are incredibly underestimated
And this is the fascinating thing about dogs. They can bite us and they can hurt us, they are freakin wolves for crying out loud, but they do not. Because they do not want to. Their social skills are incredibly underestimated actually.
Most actual bites, about 70% of them (real bites I mean, not teeth accidentally landing on a hand while playing) happen at home. The vast majority of them are unfortunately misunderstood, and the dogs end up homeless.
I have been bitten once, only once, and it was my fault of course
In the seven years that I have been living with Apollo, since I first found him/rescued him/adopted him, from the millions of times I have been in close proximity with his teeth, I have been bitten once, only once, and it was my fault of course (it is always our fault). He was relaxing, I startled him, and I got a bite in the nose. I reacted as if nothing had happened, got myself to a clinic (waste of time) and my relationship with my dog continued as normal.
Apollo is the type of dog whose bite threshold is at 0,01%, and I know that. I know my dog. As ridiculous as he seems, there are about 23,456 things that might potentially annoy him, and as I said before, he probably has an oral stage fixation of some sort, and in his oral cavity, lie his teeth.
But those deadly teeth are completely harmless. His heavy artillery is not really that heavy. Not because it can’t be, but because it won’t be.