For Dog Bite Prevention Week from May 15th to May 21st, I’ve decided to share amazing low-stress techniques that can help both dog owners and professionals prevent dog bites.
According to the Center for Disease Control, about 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs annually. Most of these bites could be avoided if professionals and dog owners recognized the warning signs and took a more careful approach to handling.
Here are six tips to prevent dog bites:
- Since most dog aggression is actually due to fear or anxiety, it’s essential that you recognize signs of fear and anxiety in a dog. Main signs of fear to watch out for are: when a dog cowers, backs away from you or puts its tail between its legs. Watch out for other subtle signs such as yawning, gaze aversion, moving slowly, lips licking, or a dog acting sleepy when it should be wide awake. Also, be on alert for a sudden tense, frozen-like posture. When a dog exhibits these warning signs, it may result in a bite.
- Set up a safe, comfortable environment. A lot of dogs are scared of strange dogs and unfamiliar people. They are usually nervous in new environments. As a result of this, it’s necessary to make the environment very calm and comfortable.
- Make a great first impression by approaching a dog correctly. An outstretched arm and a head-on approach can force a fearful dog to switch into defense mode. A more proper method is to crouch or stand sideways, avert your gaze, and let the dog make the first contact. Speaking in a happy, exciting voice or tossing several small treats can as well change the dog’s perception of what you’re up to.
- Don’t hug or place your face into the face of a strange dog. While some dogs may endure being hugged, only a few dogs truly enjoy it. Even a loving dog may bite when an unfamiliar person intrudes its personal space in a terrifying manner. To read more about hugging a dog check out this article, Let’s Not Hug It Out With Our Dogs, by the NPR Staff.
- Avoid holding dogs down for procedures they hate. Instead, take the time to train your dog to enjoy it. Forcibly restraining dogs for procedures such as a toenail trim can make the dog more fearful each time you try, leading to an aggressive behavior.
- Remain motionless (i.e., stand still) when an unfamiliar dog approaches you. Curl into a ball, tuck your head in and place your hands over your neck and ears if a dog knocks you over.
Do you have other tips on how to prevent dog bites?