Millions of people all over the world suffer from dog bites yearly. Most victims of dog bites end up in a hospital or a medical facility. Dog bites can vary from severe to minimal. Over 30,000 people yearly are subject to surgery or reconstructive medical procedures as a result of a dog bite. The physical toll of a dog bite can be immense, but the mental and psychological wounds from getting bitten by a dog could last forever, especially for children. 60% of dog bite victims are under the age of thirteen years old. Because of their small size, children have a higher likelihood of becoming a victim of a bite wound.
Most children and adults are not aware of what they can do to prevent a dog wound. As a parent, knowing the steps to take to prevent your child from getting bitten by a dog is very important. As a dog owner, you need to recognize your dog’s actions and identify times when your pet may be prone to biting a stranger, or even someone that your dog is familiar with. Pet owners who own multiple dogs are also highly likely to get bitten. It is important for everyone to be aware of steps to take to prevent dog bites.
Before you can understand how to prevent dog bites, you also need to understand why dog bites happen. Dog’s bite for various reasons, even dogs that are not prone to attack may bite out of the blue. You may hear a dog owner say “ my dog does not bite,” and that owner may be right, but under the right circumstances, a dog could surprise you and bite because they are confused or under stress in some way. When you understand the fluctuation of a dog’s behavior, you’ll be able to gage whether or not the dog is in a situation where they might bite. Here are five reasons a dog may feel the need to bite.
5 Reasons Dog Bites Happen
- The dog is afraid: A lot of people are afraid of dogs or animals, but they may not realize that animals suffer from fear too. Sometimes dogs could feel fear towards new people or strangers. You may notice that your dog may be very friendly all of the time, but their personality may change at the veterinarian’s office or when a stranger with unfamiliar movement appears. When a dog is in an unfamiliar situation, they may begin to feel fear. Fear bites are a result of a dog being startled or taken off guard by someone who is unfamiliar. For parents, its advised to teach your kids to never approach an unfamiliar dog, even if they look friendly, and even if the owner tells you that the dog does not bite. You never know when an unfamiliar dog will feel threatened by your presence.
- The dog may be feeling possessive: Dog’s are very territorial and possessive by nature. They have an innate need to protect their owners and people that they are familiar with. Dogs can also be possessive of their property. A dog may consider a toy, or food their property, or maybe even a piece of land or area that they frequent. Some dogs are trained to be possessive, this needs to happen to train good guard dogs or animal herding dogs. Any dog can begin to feel possessive at any time. If dogs are not properly trained early, the possessiveness may lead them to bite or attack. Dogs especially become aggressive over food. Be aware if you are approaching a dog’s owner, toy, area, or food. Approach with caution because possessiveness is one of the top reasons dogs decide to bite.
- Motherly instinct Attacks: Be careful with female dogs around their puppies. Even a well trained mother will attack if they feel that their babies are being threatened. Dog mothers demand respect around their puppies, it can be described as a mixture of maternal instinct and territorialism. Children must be taught not to approach a baby dog around its, other. Owners should secure a safe space for their female dog and it’s newborn babies.
- Pain induced attacks: When dogs are in in pain they a prone to getting feisty. Even a friendly dog may have a bad reaction to pain. Some dogs may have pain from old age, or leftover pain from an injury suffered earlier in life. If your dog has a bad leg or some form of a disorder, it’s important to instruct people to avoid these areas when touching or playing with your pet. If you see your dog getting agitated unexpectedly, take them to the vet, they may be experiencing some pain that you are not aware of.
- Chase Instinct Bites: Dogs can be triggered by their chase instincts. The chase, or prey instinct in a dog tells him or her to run when they see someone else running, or react when someone shows fear. A jogger or cycler could become a target of a dog that usually does not bite. When you see a dog chasing you, or watching you as you run, your best bet is to stand still in your tracks to allow the dog to calm down and asses you. Do not pose a challenge to the dog and avoid making eye contact with it as well. In a situation like this, you may also benefit from crawling into a ball or getting low so the dog does not feel threatened.
Signals of a Dog Who May Bite
Understanding why dogs bite will help you avoid an attack by a dog. Dogs usually display signals before they bite, if you can identify those signals, you may be able to prevent a trip to the hospital or a life long injury or wound. If you watch a dog’s behavior you may notice that their ears spike up or poke back when they are feeling agitated and ready to bite. Another signifier of a dog biting is the reaction of the dog’s fur standing straight up on it’s back. You’ll also notice the dog showing it’s teeth or opening its eyes very wide to reveal the white parts.
Dogs, like humans, also show their intention through their body language. If you see a dog concentrating on a stranger or freezing or showing signs of discomfort when touched, you may be witnessing a dog preparing to attack. Once you understand why a dog bites, and how to identify when a dog may bite, you can take steps to prevent being bitten. Here are 5 ways you can prevent dog bites.
5 Ways to Prevent Dog Bites
- Always ask before you touch a dog: You may see a dog who is super cute and friendly looking and think it’s fine to just pet them. This could be a huge mistake! Always remember to ask the owner before you pet a dog. If the dog is agitated due to pain or anxiety, they may attack you as a defense mechanism. Owners will gladly inform you if their dogs may bite. Asking before you pet could avoid many issues and could definitely prevent a dog bite.
- Always Take Caution: Even if you ask and someone says their dog is friendly, always remember to take caution before petting a new dog. Remember that you are a stranger to the dog and you don’t know how they may react to you. Try putting your hand out for the dog to smell first, or gesturing towards the dog and seeing their reaction before you actually go in and pet.
- Don’t assume based on past experiences: You may have met many golden retrievers that were very nice in the past, or maybe you had a specific breed of dog when you were a child. Never assume that just because your recognise the breed you know the dog. Dogs differ based on many factors including life experiences. You will never know when you may come across a dog ready to bite unexpectedly, so be cautious.
- Watch the way you move around new dogs: Dogs like to feel you out before getting too close. Some dogs may have anxiety, and others may just be very territorial. Allow the dog to feel you out before you go in to pet it or play with. Let the dog sniff your hand, get low next to the dog and see how it reacts. Try not to make any sudden movements or very loud noises. Being cool around a new dog could potentially prevent a dog bite.
- Owners should know their dogs: As an owner, it’s your job to get to know your dog. Find out what sets it off, find out what type of people they usually react well around. If your dog is prone to biting, you should be alert and aware to warn people before they approach. Honesty is key in this situation. Dog owners must take take their roles very seriously and understand how important it is to observe their dog’s behavior.