Dogs can bite. Yes, they have teeth. According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control, 4.7 Million yearly dog bites are reported. Most are non-life threatening. This doesn’t mean they are not dangerous or painful. One can suffer rabies treatments, disfigurement and muscle damage when bitten. The keys to reducing bites are simple:
– Responsible Ownership
– Education for all ages
Let’s start with responsible owners. It all starts with the owner taking steps to ensure their pet is safe, loved and confident. A mistreated and scared dog is far more likely to snap vs. a loved and well taken care of dog. Being fearful is a huge trigger for dogs.
Here are a few tips for owners to work with:
– Avoid shopping at pet stores, via Internet or thru a puppy mill to add to your family. Puppy mills are horrid. The dogs are not loved, have no human interaction and most often no medical care. They are used and abused by money hungry people who only see dollar signs. A dog coming from these conditions is a total unknown and there can be major health and behavior issues associated with puppy mill dogs.
– Train your pet. This is important for so many reasons; however this discussion is about dog bite avoidance. Training and early socialization of your dog makes them feel secure and confident as they navigate the world around them. Good training also allows you to obtain better control over your pet.
– Educate yourself. Know your breed and know your dog and his triggers. ALWAYS have control over your dog. Even the best trained dog can display unexpected behavior. It is your responsibility to maintain that control.
Now we can touch on education for yourself, your family and kids of all ages:
– Avoid disrupting a sleeping dog. You know the old saying about that! Let them be! When sleeping, eating or playing they can be startled and their first instinct can be to bite.
– Always ask if you can pet someone’s dog. Never assume it is ok to just reach out. Many dogs have had bad experiences and don’t take kindly to strangers. An owner may be trying to socialize that dog so be respectful.
– Never pat a dog on the head.
– Avoid unleashed dogs.
-If a dog is sick or hurting, keep small children and strangers away from the dog. Respect his space. Think of how you snap at people when you don’t feel good. Well, dogs do the same but sometimes they use their teeth when growling or other warnings don’t keep people at a distance.
-Be mindful when a dog has puppies. The maternal instinct after having puppies as well as hormonal issues can cause a dog to act aggressively. Her job is to protect her puppies so any perceived threat may be cause for unusual behavior.
-Teach children the proper way to engage a dog. Hitting and pulling hair is never acceptable behavior.
If a dog is displaying any of these signs, it could be an indicator that he is about to become aggressive or bite:
Intense eye contact
Showing the whites of his eyes
Pinned back ears
Raised fur on the back
Again, take the time to educate yourself on bite prevention. There are many reference sites to view, books as well as discussion with your vet.