"My dog would never." How many times have I heard that? "Not my dog, she would never bite." Wrongo. All dogs will bite; everyone has a line. A line where they draw between the acceptable/not acceptable. Like humans, dogs are all different; so what is acceptable to one may not be to another. In general what I see is that many dogs tolerate things right up to and even over their line. The more accustom they are to enduring behaviors from other dogs and/or humans, the further over their line they will be able to stand it.
Every once in a while when someone reaches down to hug one of my dogs I will allow it. That is if we are in the right environment and if I am watching each and every twitch of behavior. It is good to know where your dog's line is. But, people tend to not know that their dog has a line and put them into situations that are extremely uncomfortable. Take the folks who walk up to you and your dog and say "oh yes, he's very friendly," when their dog is clearly displaying "I am not friendly" signals. Hmmmmmmm. The dog is walked right up, head on to another dog knowing full well that this is not an appropriate way to approach. It is almost always done on an angle if left to the dog.
The biggest line that I see is with children. Parents let children cross lines all the time and sadly many children are bitten because of this. Not all dogs are child friendly. Some are, some are pretty good, others are great and then there are dogs who just don't do kids. Fear is probably the biggest issue regarding children and dogs and dogs do not need to be extremely fearful to display keep away aggressive tactics. At the last market type event we were at, Elsa and I had a small toddler running up behind us. Not good, the parents were oblivious so it was a good thing that I was on my toes. She was shrieking and running up behind us. Elsa was quite disturbed by this behavior because it was coming from behind. We zigzagged through the crowd and easily lost our small chaser.
When I do introduce Elsa to children it is in a comfortable surrounding. They are different for Elsa, she has not grown up around shrieking children. She likes children and has enjoyed all of her encounters so far. But to throw her into an unsupervised free for all situation and not help her to acclimate would be a huge failure on my part.
Do you know where your dog's line is?