Lessons for Preventing Dog Bites
The first week of April is Dog Bite Prevention Week and we wanted to share some tips on how to prevent dog bites. In many instances dog bites could have been prevented if the pet parents had exercised some preventative measures. In other cases some dogs simply snap and the person closest to them (or the dog closest to them) will be the recipient of a dog bite.
Many days a week you can read reports or watch television newscasts that show the horrors of being bitten by a dog.
While it’s true being bitten by a dog would be a horrible event, being proactive and protecting both yourself from a bite and protecting your dog from being in a situation where his only way to protect himself is to bite, is awful for the dog and the pet parent.
Accidents do happen, but here are some tips to help protect yourself from a dog bite and to prevent your dog from biting someone.
Preventing Dog Bites: Body Language
Pay attention to your dog’s body language. It may seem “adorable” when you see a toddler riding on the back of a large dog, but it’s not. Children must be taught from an early age to respect a dog and his personal space. It is the responsibility of the pet parent to keep the dog from harm’s way and to show the child how to interact with a dog.
If your dog is doing any of the following you need to remove him from the situation that is making him anxious:
- Is licking his lips
- Is showing the whites of his eyes
- Is yawning (yes this can be a sign of anxiety)
- Wagging his tail (again, this can be a sign of anxiety)
- Pulling his ears back
- Growling (this is an obvious sign)
- Trying to get away
Give your dog a safe space (his crate or a room where he can get away) and you just might prevent a dog bite.
Preventing Dog Bites with a Leash
Keep your dog on leash. We know that dogs just want to run and stretch their legs, but if she is running off leash in the neighborhood, she may meet a strange dog and run the risk of getting bitten.
Keeping her on leash will protect her and keep her safe. Also, if your dog is off leash and meets up with an on leash dog a fight could ensue and the pet parents involved could get bitten when trying to separate the dogs.
Approach with Caution
If you’re walking and see a dog and simply can’t stop yourself from wanting to pet it, don’t. Ask the pet parent if it’s all right if you pet his or her dog. Don’t put your face in the dog’s face.
Extend your hand, palm down and let the dog sniff you. Take cues from the dog as to whether he wants to be petted. If you’re walking with a child who may be face level with the dog, pick the child up or keep the child behind you.
You don’t know whether the dog you’re meeting will welcome a child and making eye contact with a strange dog (which if the child is eye level with the dog) can be construed by the dog as a challenge.
Socialization is Critical in Preventing Dog Bites
Socialize your puppy. If you adopt a puppy, or even an older dog, you want to socialize them as much as possible.
Introducing your puppy or dog to other dogs and other humans is a great way to get the dog comfortable with strangers.
A dog who is isolated or who only sees “his” human may become anxious around other humans and other dogs.
Help Children Understand
Teach children how to approach dogs. It is up to the pet parent to make sure all interactions between dogs and children are supervised. This is especially true with younger children. Remember, some dogs are “prey dogs” and a toddler who is dashing around the house or the yard could trigger the dogs’ prey instinct and the child could get knocked down and/or bitten.
Many pet parents will adopt a puppy when their child is a toddler and the puppy and the toddler will grow up with one another.
Even in this case, you want to show the child how to pet the dog and how to be gentle with it. Your child can help walk the dog, but only if you’re there holding onto the leash as well.
Until the puppy is fully trained, he could get excited and want to chase something and the child could get pulled down and injured.
Better Safe than Sorry
All pet parents love their dogs and don’t want to believe they would ever bite anyone, but it is always best to put caution first. Don’t put your pup in a position where he may bite someone because he didn’t feel he had any other option.
Celebrate your dogs and your bond with them because they love us unconditionally and deserve our best every day to keep them safe from harm.
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