Over 70% of us consider our pets to be a part of the family – and we couldn’t agree more! This means that many of us are bringing our pets with us wherever we go. A dog friendly patio breakfast followed by the dog park and a stroll around town are common outings, and the makings of a perfect Sunday.
But this begs the question – since we are likely meeting more and more dogs out and about, are we well versed in dog bite prevention? Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital thought it time to explore further.
A Growing Concern
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 4.5 million people are victims of a dog bite. And of those, 800,000 will seek medical attention for their injuries. Any dog can bite, regardless of age, breed, or size. Even the snuggliest couch potato will bite if provoked. This may be a more common problem than you realize, but luckily, most dog bites are preventable.
Reasons Dogs Bite
Dogs bite for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, it is as a reaction to a stimulus. Some common reasons are:
- Feeling threatened
- Protecting something valuable, such as food, a toy, or puppies
- Defending territory
- Fear or being startled
- Over-excitement during play
- The dog is painful, sick, injured, or recovering from surgery
How To Prevent A Dog Bite
Children are the most common group to be bitten, followed by senior citizens. Here are a few tips to help you prevent a dog bite.
Socialize your dog – socializing your dog to a variety of environments, people, and situations is absolutely essential to their safety and comfort. A dog who is well socialized is less likely to be fearful and therefore less likely to bite. Try to start socialization as early in your dog’s life as possible – puppyhood is ideal!
Be a responsible dog owner – responsible dog ownership begins with spending enough time with your dog, keeping her well exercised, and investing in training. Making sure your dog is always leashed while in public is important when it comes to dog bite prevention.
Education – educate yourself and your children about how and when to approach a dog; both your own, and other dogs you meet.
Learn to read dog body language – like humans, dogs communicate their feelings and intentions through a variety of facial expressions, body gestures, and vocalization. Postures and body language that may be cautionary are:
- Stiff, frozen posture
- Eyes wide with lots of white showing
- Tense mouth, curled lips
- Wrinkled nose
- Growling or barking
Avoid Risky Situations
It is important to learn how to avoid situations in which a dog bite is likely. Here are a few you might encounter:
- The dog is recovering from surgery, is injured or otherwise in pain
- The dog appears to be hiding or avoiding interaction
- The dog is not with his owner
- The dog’s owner does not give permission to pet the dog
- The dog is sleeping or eating
- The dog is resting with her puppies and/or seems anxious about your presence
- The dog is playing with a toy
- The dog is barking or growling
- The dog is behind a fence (never reach over or through to pet him)
Learning to avoid a dog bite is important, especially for children. Give us a call if you have any questions or concerns. If you’re worried that your dog is a risk for biting, schedule an appointment to talk about behavior, training, and whether a referral to a veterinary behaviorist or certified professional trainer could benefit your dog.