Don’t Let them Bite!
According to the AVMA Dog Bite Prevention webpage:
4.7 million people the U.S. are bitten by dogs on each year
800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites each year
400,000 children receive medical attention for dog bites each year. This makes them the most common victims, with elderly people in second place.
Dog bites to children most commonly occur with familiar dogs engaging in everyday activities
With all of these statistics, it begs the question what can I do to keep my family safe from dogs in the neighborhood, and what can I do with my dog to keep other people, and my family safe as well?
Other Peoples dogs
When interacting with other people's dogs , it's important to learn the warning signs of biting. You can tell when a dog is tense, and they are more likely to attack if they're stressed out. Never approach a dog that appears to be stressed. Signs of this include:
a slowly wagging tail
anytime a dog is exhibiting these behaviors, especially unfamiliar dog, be wary of your surroundings.
If you meet a dog in the neighborhood, ask the owner if you can meet the dog. Most dogs don't want to attack, but often the owner will know the dogs temperament, and how aggressive they are likely to be. Slowly introduce yourself and allow them to investigate before you touch them. Some things to try:
When you encounter an aggressive dog, don't stare into his eyes. Slowly back away and put a barrier between you and the dog. Do not run. Dogs want to chase their prey and you don't want to trigger that. If he appears as though he is going to attack, standstill. Don't shout because that can make the dog more anxious. Stand still, with your hands in front of you, looking at your feet. Standing like that is less threatening, and less interesting to a dog. Breathe deeply and wait for the dog to leave or for help to come. Do what you can to keep his teeth away from you. If he is running at you , ready to attack, put something between you and the dog. If you get down knock down, protect your head neck and ears. This will keep you from the most amount of harm.
Teach your children what to do , and how to interact with dogs.
Make sure your children know but if they see dogs they don't know , they need to tell an adult. Teach them to never touch a dog without permission. Teach them to never go near a dog In a yard, behind a fence, or in a car. They may defend their territory aggressively.
Play time with pops can be rough. Children need to play gently with dogs. A dog can get over excited if you are playing rough, it's easy to forget manners. Tell your child to never hit a dog.
Help your child to see the danger in startling your dog. Teach them not to touch your dogs that are sleeping, eating, or chewing on a bone.
Teach your dog not to bite socialization and training
Starting between 3 and 12 weeks of age, begin introducing your dog to other people and animals. Start in a familiar environment like your home. As your dog gets more comfortable, bring him out into new environments.
Get your dog comfortable with eating around people. Teach your dog to respond calmly to distractions . You can take the bowl, rub the dog, give him a treat. This will reduce the risk of biting later.
Train your dog basic manners.
A well disciplined dog is easier to keep out of trouble. See our article about clicker training for some ideas on how to do this period
Teach you dog to come on command. This can keep your dog out of a dangerous situation.
It's also a good practice to have your dog wait before giving him his food. This reinforces the idea that humans can touch his food . This reduces the risk for aggression around food.
Not aggressive games are best. games like tug of war may make your dog feel like biting is acceptable. It's also good to train your dog not to nip your hands. give him a chew toy
Avoiding bites when out and about
When taking your dog on a walk , it's best to use a fixed leash. This will give you control of where your dog goes, and allow him to stay safe. Be aware of your surroundings, and notice any potential threats, or stressors to your dog.
Keep him away from trouble situations.
You know the things that your dog doesn't like, so you are in the best position to take steps toward effective prevention.
It's also very important to keep your dog healthy and vaccinated. Make sure he gets regular exams at the vet , and his up to date on all of his shots. No matter how well trained, or gentle your dog is, a sick dog can be very dangerous, even deadly. If your dog is in pain, it can be more likely for him to lash out. Pay attention to behavioral changes, and keep him as healthy as possible.
If your dog gets in a fight
It's important to split up a dogfight carefully. You don't want injury. If it's at all possible, try to keep yourself away, not touching the dogs at all. Dogs hate listerine, or binaca, So a spray of that may cause dogs to flee. If you must touch the dogs, grab them by the hind legs to pull them apart. Stay away from their collars, heads or shoulders. Those are potential danger zones that could get you bit too. If your dog is on a leash, try to get them apart. If you can get one of the dogs separated, use a barrier to keep them away from each other. If both dogs are large and powerful, it may be best to wait for help to defuse the situation.