The bad news: Dogs of any breed or size can, and do, bite. The good news: There are really very few aggressive dogs. Most dogs bite because they’re afraid. This means there are steps you can take to prevent your dog from biting and prevent you and your children from being bitten. Here’s some information on dog bite prevention from Kate Knutson, DVM, of Pet Crossing Animal Hospital & Dental Clinic in Bloomington, Minnesota.
Most Dogs Bite for Two Reasons:
- They’re afraid
- They think you’re prey
Why Some Dogs Bite Children
- Children are at eye level
- Children stare directly into dogs’ eyes
- Children run and move suddenly, appearing like prey
Take These Steps When Meeting a Strange Dog:
- Slowly approach the dog and owner
- Ask the owner’s permission to pet the dog
- If the owner and your parent or guardian says it’s OK, slowly extend your hand, allowing the dog to sniff the back of it
- Pet the dog’s shoulder or chest – not the head
If an Aggressive Dog Approaches or Attacks
Never run. Instead:
- Look away from the dog’s eyes
- Stand like a tree with arms by your sides
- Give the dog your jacket or anything not attached to you
- If the dog knocks you down, remain quiet, curl up in a ball and cover your ears. Most dogs will leave.
Preventing Your Dog from Biting
- Spay or neuter your dog
- Socialize your puppy. Expose your puppy to many different people, animals and places, because a well-socialized dog is a happy dog.
- Enroll your dog in obedience training classes. Ask your veterinarian for a reference.
- Don’t leave your dog alone for long periods of time
If Your Dog is Growling, Barking or Behaving Aggressively
If your dog is growling or behaving aggressively, he/she may be in physical pain. Take your dog to your veterinarian to rule out any health problems.
Working with a Dog Behaviorist
If there are no health problems, ask your veterinarian to refer you to a Certified Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), a veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB) or Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT). Check references and see if you can meet the trainer first. Not all trainers are alike.
If Your Dog Bites a Human
Consequences of a dog biting a human vary from state to state. In general, penalties have increased. They range from liability insurance requirements to euthanatizing your dog.