Most dogs are loving and loyal companions, but even the sweetest pups may bite a person one day. Injuries from dog bites are relatively common in the U.S., and children between the ages of five and nine are the most prone to suffering these kinds of injuries.
Sadly, in most cases, rabies disease is spread through dog bites.
However, a sizable proportion of bite injuries require medical attention, causing people to educate themselves on how to prevent dog bites. But the good news is that most dog bites are preventable.
How to Prevent Dog Bites: 5 Tips For Children by WHO
Because children are the most vulnerable to dog bites, it’s essential to educate them on behaving around dogs and with dogs.
How to Prevent Dog Bites: Tips For Everyone
Dogs don’t bite to be mean. Mostly they bite due to miscommunication. With little awareness and following some tips, dog bites can be prevented.
- Do not “sneak up” on a dog. Allow the dog to see your approach.
- Notice the dog’s body language. A tense body, stiff tail, and pulled-back ears are all signs of an animal that is on edge. Do not approach a dog that is exhibiting these signs.
- Do not kneel and put your face in front of the dogs. It may be seen as an aggressive maneuver.
- Avoid making eye contact.
- Approach a dog slowly and only with the owner’s permission.
- Hold out your hand to allow the dog to smell you before attempting to pet him.
- Make certain that adults are watching while kids are playing with dogs.
- Do not turn your back or run away when a dog appears aggressive. It may cause the dog to give chase, and most dogs are far faster runners than humans.
- If you fear that a dog may be aggressive, freeze. The dog will eventually lose interest, providing an opportunity to slowly back away.
- If a dog knocks you over, curl into a tight, little ball with your hands over your ears. Resist the urge to scream, thrash, or roll, as these may only heighten the dog’s aggressive tendencies.
Note: If bitten, immediately report to the nearest adult and look for a first aid center.
Why Do Dogs Bite? Even Their Owners?
Dogs don’t bite out of anywhere. The reasons that lead to the dog’s bite can be various. Most dogs try to communicate their discomfort before biting, growling, barking, or snapping at the air. These are the reasons why dogs bite for:
- In Defense
- Out of fear.
- When Startled
- Out of Frustration
- Illness and Pain
- While Playing
1. In Defense
Dogs sometimes bite in their defense. To protect their puppies or a member of their pack from any risk or defend their territory, they can fiercely bite anyone, even their owner.
2. Out of Fear
A dog can be fearful if someone gets close to them or into their space and can become overwhelmed. As a result, to respond, he might bite to create distance from whatever or whoever he is worried about.
3. When Startled
Dogs may bite when startled, especially if they wake up from sleeping. Because a dog can be confused and disoriented about where he is and what is going on due to a startling awakening and might bite.
4. Out of Frustration
It can be another reason behind a dog’s biting. Suppose a dog feels trapped and uncomfortable in any place or cannot reach something he wants because his owner or leash is holding him. In that case, he will bite whoever or whatever is holding him back.
5. Illness and Pain
When a dog doesn’t feel well, he may not even want to be approached by his favorite people and can bite otherwise.
6. While Playing
If anyone runs away from a dog, even during play, it can provoke him to bite. Dogs may think it is fun at first but can become aggressive quickly.
Tips for Dog Parents to Avoid Bite Injuries
1. Consult with Dog Experts
Ask someone with considerable experience to recommend a non-aggressive breed.
- Veterinarians, some breeders, and animal behaviorists can point you toward dog breeds that are less likely to bite.
This consideration must be weighed against others like size, shedding, and the amount of required exercise when choosing the right pump for your family.
2. Try to Know Your Selected Dog’s Temperament
Whether you are adopting a dog at a shelter or buying one from a breeder, find out as much as you can about the dog’s temperament.
- A dog who has attacked people in the past is more likely to do so.
However, keep in mind that some attacks result from living in a hazardous or highly charged atmosphere. In a safe, loving home, aggressive tendencies may entirely disappear.
3. Take Time Before Finalizing
Spend as much time as possible with a dog before finalizing an adoption or purchase.
- It includes meeting the dog at the shelter or the breeder’s home and may involve at least one visit to your house.
Make sure that all family members have considerable time to interact with the dog. This way, you’ll be sure that a particular pup is a good fit for your family.
4. Notice Children’s Reaction
Observe children and see how they react to being around a dog.
- If they seem tentative or frightened, this may not be the right time to introduce a dog into your household.
- Try working with the child on the guidelines presented above to help them overcome their apprehension.
A little bit of familiarity can go a long way toward easing a child’s fears. Also, look into allowing the child to spend some time with a family member’s known, friendly dog. When a child is relaxed, the dog can relax, making a bite injury far less likely to happen.
5. Train Your Dog
The work isn’t over once you’ve found the perfect dog for your family. You can still do many things to minimize the chances of a dog bite injury.
Get started with training immediately for puppies and dogs who have not been trained yet.
- Enroll your new dog in an obedience school where your family and its latest member can learn to love and respect each other.
Dogs who faithfully obey straightforward commands like “sit” and “stay” are more likely to be well behaved when faced with a nervous or aggressive person.
6. Socialize your Dog
- It includes socializing with people and other dogs. Obedience training will help with this quite a bit as your dog will be exposed to new dogs, people, and situations.
However, you can take it one step further by arranging playdates for your dog and children with the dog and kids from another family. Do this only when you sense that your puppy is ready for all that stimulation and he’s far enough along in the training process to obey basic commands.
7. Avoid Aggressive Play
Dogs don’t always understand the difference between being serious and playing.
- Wrestling or roughhousing with a dog may seem like fun. Still, it can also signal to some dogs that aggressive behavior is not just acceptable but encouraged.
This aggressive tendency might come out at the wrong moment, resulting in a dog bite injury.
8. Spay or Neuter Your Dog
Responsible pet owners should consider taking this step for several reasons.
- It means a more comfortable existence for your beloved pet. It also means that you are responsibly controlling the pet population.
- A spayed or neutered pet tends to be far less aggressive.
If you’re serious about dog bite prevention, this is an important step. Spaying and neutering are relatively low-risk, routine procedures vets perform dozens of times each year. The recovery time is minimal, and it genuinely is the responsible approach to pet ownership.
9. Do Regular Check-Up
Take your dog in for regular veterinary exams.
- Sometimes dogs who have never been aggressive develop the tendency because of a medical condition.
Keeping up with exams and vaccinations is another way to keep your dog even-tempered and less likely to lash out at people.
- If you notice behavioral changes in your beloved pet, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible. He may be suffering from a health condition that can be successfully treated.
10. Don’t Have Many Dogs at Home
Even the number of dogs in the home may affect the likelihood of receiving a bite. Anyone living with more than two dogs is five times more prone to bites than someone who does not live with a dog.
Every year, National Dog Bite Prevention Week is celebrated during the second whole week of April. It focuses on educating people about preventing dog bites. Remember that dog bite prevention is an ongoing effort.
From choosing the right dog and providing proper training to keeping up with all veterinary checkups, the way you care for your dog can stop bites before they happen.
Dogs are man’s best friends, but some miscommunication can result in being bitten by a dog. So, if you get bitten by a dog, wash the wound immediately and seek help from a nearby first-aid center.
As an animal lover since childhood, Paul has an excessive amount of kindness for animals and really feels about them. Feeding stray dogs and passing time with them is one of the things Paul loves to do in his free time.
Paul studied Veterinary Medicine at Murdoch University. He is a Speaker who talks about animal welfare at various events. You will find him sharing here his valuable knowledge as well as experience.
Currently, Paul is working on his first book to publish where you will see the reflection of his 10 years of experience with animals and pet psychology.