Dog Owners Are Pretending Their Pet Bit Them in Concerning TikTok Trend

A viral TikTok trend encouraging users to pretend their dog has bitten them, in order to gain an entertaining reaction, isn't as fun as it might seem.

The TikTok-based trend sees dog owners place their hand in the mouth of their pet, before whipping it back out and pretending to be in pain. Often, the dog will respond with a "sorry look" on its face, racking up views.

Newsweek spoke to a dog behavior expert, however, who dubbed the trend "bizarre" and explained that it might not be as straightforward as it seems. The trend might not be producing the bite-induced reactions you think they are, and it could have long-lasting effects on relationships with owners.

Despite the trend existing on the app since last year, videos continue to roll out of the app with new ones gaining views in the millions just posted in the last month.

For Joe Nutkins, a dog trainer accredited by the U.K.'s Kennel Club, the real concern is not solely the reactions of the dogs, but the actions of the owners to begin with. In the videos, owners are left needing to open the dog's mouth inorganically, using "friendly" play to make them open wide. It might not be so friendly though.

"Watching these videos, so many dog owners are not very good at interacting with their dogs," she told Newsweek. "They are pushing their dog's face about with their hands, some are lightly slapping their dog's face, all to try and cause their dog to open their mouth.

"Many dogs will find this way of interacting uncomfortable and potentially it can lead to them becoming hand shy or put off playing with their owner. Being hand shy makes examining our dogs so much harder and stressful for the dogs."

For most on TikTok, the viral-video-making-ability comes from the reaction of the dog—some seem unfazed while others are left seemingly guilt-ridden. Both as hilarious as one another, but one has far worse consequences.

Nutkins explained that most reactions involve "calming signals" including licking a hand or face, which dogs use as a way to naturally calm each other when worried, upset or hurt.

@wonderbria

it was the genuine concern in the paw touch for me 😩 #fyp

♬ original sound - Bria Leggett

"We view dogs' calming signals as saying sorry, and in a way sometimes that can be a correct interpretation," she said. According to Nutkins, in most cases dogs are unable to connect the dots and don't realize they are even being accused of biting but simply see a suddenly upset owner.

"In a lot of the videos the dogs have no idea their owner is accusing them of biting but they see their owner make a shocked sound and then the interaction stops and they hold their hand in pain so the dogs revert into calming their owner," she said.

But just because they don't actually feel the guilt it might look like they do, it doesn't make it completely harmless. Unnecessarily stressing dogs out is exactly that—unnecessary.

"There is still so much concern shown by the dogs towards their owners where they believe their owner is suddenly in pain," added Nutkins.

"For a dog who already has anxiety or nervous characteristics the adding to this by their owner could well cause a dog to shut down and lose interest in many things, become more stressed and show physical symptoms of this like pacing, excessive paw licking or pulling out fur or show signs of obsessive behaviors."

For the dogs becoming internet stars in these clips, ignorance really is bliss with Nutkins ranking them not understanding at all as the best possible outcome.

"It's a shame that there is so much potential for dogs who share a close bond with their owners to become negatively affected by something just for social media, especially when there are so many positive trends out there too," she said.

TikTok trends in which a dog's reaction takes center stage are unfortunately growing more and more on the app.

In the last few months, Newsweek consulted experts on videos involving owners barking in their dog's face and animatedly talking in their dog's face, all of which had the same conclusion—don't do it.