Biden Too Beta? Dog Trainers Say Biting Indicates Lack Of Leadership

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Reagan Reese White House Correspondent
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It turns out Commander Biden could use a little more of the structure his name invokes.

After 11 reported bites, one of which allegedly sent a Secret Service officer to the hospital for treatment, President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden’s two-year-old German shepherd, Commander, has been ousted from the White House, according to CNN. With the dog around, the White House work environment is reportedly “hostile” and “dangerous,” a source familiar with the president’s Secret Service detail told the outlet.

Commander’s behavior can in part be attributed to a lack of leadership and direction from his owners, dog trainers told the Daily Caller, noting the president is the only one who can get the dog under control.

“I think that’s probably a lot of it, I’d say [the dog] is probably lacking some direction and lacking some good leadership, but I don’t know how conducive that would be, given the environment that he’s in, for it to be successful with this individual dog,” David Tirpak of Miracle K9 Training told the Caller. He added German shepherds come under additional stress when they are controlled by an individual who is not the original person, such as their owner, they initially made a bond with. 

Because dogs are creatures of  “habit and predictability,” the environment of the White House, in addition to having multiple people handle Commander, are most likely contributing to the dog’s behavior, Tirpak added. 

Biden’s brother and sister-in-law gifted Commander to the president in December 2021 after the family had just lost or rehoused two German shepherds earlier in the year, The Washington Post reported. The dog isn’t the first German shepherd to be ousted from the White House: Biden’s other dog, Major, was sent to live with some friends after he bit two people within a month in 2021.

TOPSHOT - US President Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden, play with their new dog Commander at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on December 28, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

TOPSHOT – US President Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden, play with their new dog Commander at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on December 28, 2021. (SAUL LOEB / AFP) (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Commander is known to have had at least 11 biting incidents, though multiple sources told CNN that Commander has been involved in more than what has been previously revealed by the White House. (RELATED: New Photos Emerge Of Biden’s Dog Apparently ‘Biting’ White House Staff Member: REPORT)

The dog most recently bit a Secret Service officer Monday, though his most severe reported incident came in November 2021, when Commander bit a Secret Service officer badly enough to require hospital treatment, the outlet reported. The incident was unprovoked and Commander bit the agent’s arm and thigh, according to emails and records obtained by Judicial Watch.

At one point, a Secret Service officer and First Lady Jill Biden lost control of the dog in October 2022 and Commander “continued to circle” another agent, the emails obtained by Judicial Watch show.

Dogs, especially an intelligent and loyal breed such as German shepherds, need to be around the owner with whom they’ve built a connection in order to help their behavior, Tom Davis of Upstate Canine Academy told the Caller.

“President Biden has to be the one that’s going to step up and control the dog,” Davis said. 

“It’s not only his responsibility, but he’s the one that has the best shot [at controlling the dog]. I mean, everybody knows that when you get a dog, they’re your best friend,” Davis continued. 

The First Lady noted in 2021 that bringing both Commander and Major to the White House had been a big adjustment for the dogs, adding that they now have to take elevators and face crowds when heading onto the South Lawn. Jill Biden explained in the 2021 interview that both Commander and Major are taken care of by a rotating staff, though the First Lady walks the dogs in the early morning before heading off to teach college classes.

Commander had been receiving remedial training prior to his reported removal, though the White House did not expand on what precautions and efforts were being taken after 10 biting incidents were reported throughout the summer, according to CNN.

“They’ve been working diligently with Secret Service, with trainers, with veterinarians, with the residence staff and others on this – they have been taking this very seriously, and for months,” a White House official told the outlet.

The dogs are known to be held dear to Biden, who downplayed the media’s coverage of Major’s bite incident in 2021.

“He’s a sweet dog — 85 percent of the people there love him. … All he does is lick them and wag his tail,” Biden told ABC News.

After Commander’s first biting incidents, precautions should have been taken sooner to ensure the German shephard stopped his behavior rather than focusing on what could be causing the bites, Ridgeside K9 owner Aaron Taylor told the Caller.

“In this case, we have a protection-based dog who is protective of the environment, obviously territorial, and clearly reactive and will bite for real,” the dog training company owner said. “Okay, now that that’s known, and we have documented history, how are we managing the dog? Why he bites, it doesn’t matter because he will bite.”

“The question is why aren’t we managing and controlling and retraining the dog? Why aren’t we controlling and managing the environment? Why is the dog loose? Why are people being ordered to ignore the dog and not report contact? Who is actually responsible for the dog day to day?” Taylor continued.

In an effort to pare down on biting incidents, Secret Service agents around the White House are reportedly alerted via radio on which areas to avoid when the dog is outside, while some agents are told to avoid certain entrances so they don’t run into the dog, a source familiar with the president’s Secret Service detail told CNN.

But when a dog has to be rehoused, that measure ultimately comes about because of how the owner handled the dog, Davis told the Caller.

“I have so much empathy for anybody, I don’t care who they are — and it happens everyday — that has to get rid of their dog,” Davis said. “It’s got to be a devastating loss. Because you ultimately know at the end of the day, or you should know at the end of the day, that this was because of you. This is not because of the Secret Service. This is not because your dog did something they shouldn’t have done. This is a responsibility.”