It’s crucial to understand that any dog can bite and understanding the common reasons why dogs bite can prevent a bite from happening. Every year, millions of people are bitten by dogs in the United States and many of them end up requiring medical care. Children are the most common victims. Half of them are under the age of thirteen. Most dog bites happen with familiar dogs. There are 5 main reasons why dogs bite:
1. Being Possessive - Anything from food, toys, territory or even human beings, can become something that dogs will protect. Teach your dog early to minimize this kind of behavior. Claiming and teaching the “Leave it” command works well in preventing toy aggression. Food aggression can be avoided by teaching your dog to wait calmly, and then give eye contact before allowing them to eat. Make them back away and then sit or lie down. Remove their food and then put it back. Occasionally add treats to the food bowl so they understand that someone coming near the bowl is not a bad thing. Teach kids not to bother dogs that are eating or chewing a bone.
2. Fear – A dog can become fearful around strangers or in unfamiliar situations. Never approach an unfamiliar dog and teach your children to do the same. Teach kids never to sneak up on a dog or bother a sleeping dog. Early socialization and desensitization is crucial so that the dog is exposed to many different situations, people, animals, sounds, etc. This will help prevent fears from developing. For example, have the mailman drop treats all around the property when he arrives and then eventually hand them to the dog directly.
3. Pain – Any dog can bite when in pain. If your dog has any chronic injury, teach your kids not to touch the sensitive areas and be gentle when handling the dog. If your dog is snapping for no apparent reason, he may be in pain. Take him to a veterinarian for a checkup immediately.
4. Maternal instincts - The most well behaved dog can bite when she has puppies. Be respectful of the maternal instincts of a dog that has recently given birth. Teach kids not to approach a puppy when the mother is around and be careful yourself when handling puppies. Make sure the mother and her puppies have a place where they feel safe.
5. Prey drive - This instinct can sometimes be triggered by a jogger or bicycle going past a dog. Be aware of your surroundings if you are jogging or cycling and if you see an off leash dog, try to avoid crossing his path. If a dog does chase you then the best thing to do is to stop moving and face the dog while standing straight and confident. Do not make eye contact which can be seen as a challenge by the dog. He may come up and smell you but will eventually find you uninteresting and move on to something else. If a dog knocks you over then curl up in a ball protecting your face, hands and neck and try to be as still as possible. Teach kids to do the same thing. You can even stage a “stray dog” practice drill.
Dog Bite Warning Signs – There are always behaviors that a dog does that can be used as a warning and therefore take actions to reduce the dog’s anxiety or fear. Ears are usually pinned back, the fur along their back may stand up and you may be able to see the whites of their eyes. Yawning is an attempt to show off his teeth and can sometimes also be considered a warning sign. Freezing when touched. A look followed by direct intense eye contact.
How to Stop Dog Bites – Stopping a dog from biting begins by being a responsible dog owner with your own dog. Spaying and neutering will help lower the chances of behaviors that lead to bites. Mental and physical stimulation followed by play helps reinforce the human-animal bond. It also releases pent up energy and instincts that might otherwise be redirected in less productive fashions. Unless you have mastered your leadership skills, avoid games like wrestling and tug of war which can lead to dominance issues. Your dog should know basic obedience commands like stay, come and leave it. Don’t let your dog wander around unleashed and unsupervised. Expose your dog to as many different things as possible. Stay up to date on your vaccinations. Educate children on how to interact act around dogs and what to do if a dog attacks.
Always remember: BP4 – Be: Patient, Positive, Peaceful & Persistent
If you continue to have problems, let me know if I can help.
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