NCIS Dog Bite Incident

It led to serious tension on the set
By Karen B. London PhD, May 2018

An aggressive dog can cause serious tension

People sometimes view their own dog very differently than other people do. Or, as Hagrid wisely said in Harry Potter, “Ah, well, people can be a bit stupid abou’ their pets.” This is really just another way of saying that love is blind and that we don’t always realize the shortcomings of the animals we love. When aggression is involved, this can lead to conflict with other people.

Actor Mark Harmon faced some conflict at work due to the aggressive behavior of his dog, Dave. Dave bit a crew member who was playing with him on the set of NCIS, and the man needed more than a dozen stitches. The bite led to a lot of tension in the workplace and possibly to the departure of Harmon’s co-star of 15 years, Pauley Perrette.

The bite happened well over 18 months ago, and Harmon continued to bring his dog to the set, upsetting his co-star, Pauley Perrette. She told several co-workers that she did not feel safe with the dog there. Harmon claimed that he kept the dog in his trailer and that there were no further problems.

Some people have said that the dog is friendly but that he got scared and that’s why he bit the man. As a behaviorist, the reasons for the bite interest me, but the fact that such a serious bite occurred indicates that the dog is not reliably able to handle the situation on the set and should not be there.

The disagreement over the continued presence of the dog on set eventually became so heated that the two co-stars could not work together. Perrette and Harmon shot their scenes on different days and appeared together on screen only with the magic of special effects. Finally, Perrette left the show, and speculation has been rampant that the conflict over the dog was the driving force behind her decision.

Conflicts over dogs, whether they are in a family, a neighborhood or at a workplace can be intense, especially where aggression has been involved. Even people in Hollywood are not immune to the fights that can happen when a dog bites someone. Have you ever had a serious conflict over a dog who has bitten?

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral problems, including aggression. She is the author of five books on canine training and behavior.

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