Dog Bite Prevention Week is approaching; it will be marked during the week of April 7-13. Pet parents know they need to know how to prevent dog bites. This preventative measure is vital to protecting individuals from getting bitten. Awareness also protects our dogs from being in a position where they feel the only way out is to bite.
Understanding and paying attention to your dog’s body language is key to preventing a dog bite. You may feel “my dog would never bite.” If he feels threatened, biting may be his only way out. Dogs can’t “talk” their way out of a situation (well, other than through growling). It’s up to us, the pet parents, to keep our dogs safe from harm and from harming others.
How To Prevent Dog Bites
Pay attention to your dog’s body language
Pet parents are typically in tune with their dogs and their dogs’ moods.
If you notice your dog:
- Pulling his ears back
- If you see the whites of his eyes and
- If you hear low-throated growling, remove him from the situation that’s making him anxious.
Young children love dogs and love to hug, tug his ears or play with his paws. Your dog may tolerate the children — to a point. Pay careful attention to how the children are interacting with your dog. Children need to be taught how to be respectful to of a dogs when interacting with them. Children also need to know when to give a dog his space.
Did you know: A dog yawning could be a sign of anxiety. You should remove him from the situation.
Learn when your dog needs space and put him into his crate, if that’s his safe space. If he doesn’t have a crate, let him to go a quiet room where he can be alone with his toys.
Protect your dog from biting someone else
Don’t rush up to strange dogs
When you walk your dog you may encounter strangers who will rush up and want to pet your dog, that could lead to a bite. Dogs who aren’t accustomed to being petted by strangers, might bite. Don’t put your dog — or the person petting her — in a bad situation. You should also never walk up and start petting a dog without first asking the owner, “May I pet your dog?”
Let people know not to rush up to pet your dog. If your dog is friendly and doesn’t mind being petted, the stranger should still approach calmly and let your dog sniff her hand. Children, who may be eye level with your dog, should be picked up so they aren’t eye level.
Keep your dog leashed becaue this will prevent her from running up to people and dogs you encounter on the street. Keep your dog leashed and approach other people and dogs with caution.
Remember, your dog may feel she needs to protect you from strangers and this could lead to bites.
Respect your dog’s space
Just as you wouldn’t want someone to reach over and grab food off your dinner plate, do you? Keep that in mind if you stick your hand into your dog’s food dish or grab a toy from his mouth.
Let sleeping dogs lie. This may be a cliche, but if your dog is sleeping, make a noise to let him know you’re approaching. Because dogs don’t appreciate being startled they may bite out of fear.
Don’t let other pets or children crawl into your dog’s crate — that is his safe space.
Mood swings aren’t limited to humans. Even our dogs get tired and out of sorts and if your dog is acting that way, give him his space. Let him sleep in another room if he wants.
Unless you and your dog are playing tug of war with his favorite toy, don’t grab a toy he is playing with. Teach your dog the “give it” or “drop it” commands. When you want him to drop something he’s chewing, say “drop it.” When he does, you can pick it up. Resource-guarding may lead to your dog biting you.
Keep your pet safe and out of situations that may lead to bites
Your dog doesn’t want to bite. Don’t put your dog in a position where they feel threatened and that biting is their only way out. Protect your dog and be cognizant of preventing dog bites this week, and every week throughout the year.
Do you understand your dog’s body language? If you’ve never thought about it, start paying attention. You’ll notice his happy language, his tired language, his anxious language and his loving language — when he just wants to snuggle in your lap and relax.
Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual. When not caring for her pets or taking them on walks, she is a speaker, efficiency and effectiveness guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words Matter, My Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof/Crimeless Cat.