Did you know that 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the United States. That number shocked me as well.
And that’s just in the United States!
The results can be devastating. For the person bitten, it can be as simple as just a red mark to something as perfect as tons of stitches and plastic surgery.
There are a couple of components to avoiding dog bites. It’s not as simple as just teaching your dog not to bite.
What drives a dog to bite?
First, you need to understand why dogs bite. Dogs bite for many reasons.
At one end, you have the dog who simply plays too rough.
This dog does not recognize its strength and has not been taught properly not to bite.
Then you have the dog pushed beyond its limits.
This dog may have been sending out all the warning signs that it just was not in the mood to play but the human involved isn’t “listening.” The dog is saying that if you keep doing what you’re doing, there will be a bite.
Lastly, you have the dog who scared. A dog’s teeth are not just for chewing — they are there best defensive weapon.
Understanding your dog’s body language before a bite
You need to understand the dog’s language.
By understanding these clear signals, the dog sends out, you can avoid making it angry or scared. And as a result, you will avoid being bitten.
Warnings that a dog might bite
Of course, there are the obvious signs. Growling or baring their teeth. If their lips shake as they are growling, you need start backing away.
A dog that stares at you intently is also a dog that is very alert and worried about what you will do next.
But there are other signs.
And a dog might show some of these signs without growling or baring their teeth — though they may whimper or whine.
First, look at the tail.
If the tail is relaxed or wagging quickly, the dog is probably open to you interacting with them. But if the dog’s tail is stiff or rigid, whether it is wagging or not, the dog is uncomfortable.
You can also learn a lot about a dog’s mood by looking at how they are holding their ears and body.
If the ears are up and pointed forward, they’re interested in you. But if they flatten their ears back, they are nervous or angry. Their body may be tense.Reading your dog’s facial features to avoid a bite
A nervous dog tends to yawn a lot. They may flip their tongue or lick their lips like you are a tasty treat.
I know, these are also signs of a tired or relaxed dog. But when put together with any of the other signs of nervousness, this means a dog may be near biting you.
If you know their language, it will be easier to avoid being bitten by a dog.
How to Avoid Dog Bites By Approaching a New Dog the Right Way
If the dog’s owner is with them, ask them if you may approach their dog. They know if their dog has been trained not to bite. The owner will also know if the dog is stressed.
And a stressed dog meeting a new person may forget their manners.
If the dog’s guardian allows you to approach their pup, here’s what you do next.
First, never try to reach directly for a dog to pet them. Even a dog who knows you may find this threatening. Don’t move quickly or you may startle the dog and make them more nervous.
Start by standing within reach of the dog but not too near them.
You want to allow them to approach you.
Hold your hand out in a loose fist, with the top of your hand up. You want to hold your hand at about nose-level to the dog, but at least 6 inches to 1 foot away from the dog. This tells the dog that you want to make friends, and they will come to sniff your hand.
Once a dog investigates you, you’ll know if you can approach. If they remain tense, allow them to continue sniffing you. And if they relax, it’s safe to pet them.
What Do You Do if a Dog Becomes Aggressive?
The most important thing is to never run from an aggressive dog. Prey runs, and you can trigger their hunting instincts.
They will chase you, and they are more likely to bite you if they chase you.
Instead, try being a tree.
You want to stand very still and keep your hand in a non-threatening gesture. The best thing to do is just put your hands down in front of you.
Do not look the dog straight in the eye — eye contact is considered a threat.
Instead, lower your head to look at your feet. If you want to keep an eye on the dog, look at its paws or somewhere else on its body to keep an eye on its position. Do not look it in the eye.
You can talk to the dog to try and calm it.
Use a firm voice to tell it that it is “okay.” If it looks like the dog is about to attack, remain still and tell the dog in your firm voice, “no” or “down.” If the dog is loose and you do not see its owner, you can try “go home.”
Whatever you do, remain still.
Do not even try to back away. If you stand still, the dog will become bored and calm down. Or it’s Guardian may arrive and call it off.
So, you can see the dog has a very clear language.
If you pay attention, you can avoid dog bites.
It’s especially important to teach these rules to children at an early age.
I don’t have the boring statistics, but I heard somewhere that most dog bites happen to children. It makes sense since children are still learning. But you don’t want a child to be afraid of the dog after a bad bite incident.
Always Supervise a Child Around a New Dog.
Not every dog likes children, even if they know them. So, you should also supervise them around a dog that they do not engage with regularly, or who you know is uncomfortable with children.
After all, we want our kids to adore Pups as much as we do!
What Happens to a Dog that Bites?
Many municipalities require hospitals to report dog bites. Counties, cities, etc. all get involved when it comes to dog bites. And for a dog who bites for the first time. It is dramatic enough.
But for a dog who has bitten before, it can mean the loss of life.
So, to be sure that no one is ever afraid of our beloved furry babies, It’s important to make sure they don’t bite.
Recommended Dog Training Courses
There are two online video based training courses that I recommend. They can both help with aggressive dogs.
These two courses serve two very different purposes. The Doggy Dan course is the best behavioral training course that I’ve ever used. It tackles problem behaviors like barking in ways that are innovative and kind and most of all WORK.
The Brain Training for Dogs course is a course that will help give curious and bored dogs something to do so that they don’t get destructive. Bored dogs often behave badly. The games in this course are fun to play with your dog and they go from easy to very advanced. If you think your dog is barking out of boredom this video course is a good choice.