When Good Dogs Bite

A Dog aggression – it is our responsibility to prevent itTrusting all dogs? When I would walk my dog, I would occasionally see people cross the street to avoid my pet. I often thought, "Do they really think that my beagle will do anything to them?" I do know  there are people who are just unsure of dogs, and I think this is a wiser approach than trusting all dogs, even for dog lovers.

4.7 million bites. Dog bites are a serious problem. In the United States, 4.7 million people are bitten each year with more than half of the victims being children, innocent and trusting.  44,000 facial injuries seen in U.S. hospitals each year are caused by dog bites.

Reasons? As a veterinarian, I frequently see dogs that have bitten just one person. Yes, there are vicious dogs, but a large percentage of dogs are not vicious and will bite for other reasons. They may be scared, provoked, approached too quickly or just protective of their owner and surroundings. Whatever the case, owners must take responsibility. Given the right conditions, any dog can bite.

The owners’ responsibility needs to start when the dog is a puppy and continue throughout its life. 

Prevention. No matter what size or breed your dog is, the same prevention tips apply:

  • Careful breed selection. Research breeds before getting a dog.
  • Socialize your dog. Slowly introduce your puppy to a variety of situations and continue to do so. Use common sense; don’t put your dog in a setting where he or she feels threatened or unsure.
  • Train your dog. Your dog should know the basic commands: “sit,” “stay,” “no” and “come.” Incorporate these commands in their play.
  • Spay or neuter your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to roam and bite.
  • Routine veterinary care. Have your dog vaccinated annually for rabies and other infectious diseases.
  • Know your dog. If your dog shows any sign of aggression or excessive timidness, seek behavior guidance.
  • Follow the law. Register your dog with your city or suburb. Never let your dog wander free and, when outside, have your dog on a leash.

Dogs and kids. Most dogs are great with the family kids, but all dogs are not. Children need early guidance. Teach them to be cautious around strange dogs and always ask permission to pet a dog. In the home, teach children, as early as toddler age, to be careful and respect the pet. Never leave babies or small children alone with a dog. Dogs should not be disturbed if they are sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.

Strange dog. When out of the house, if a dog approaches you, stay calm and still. Do not make eye contact with the dog.  Most dogs will leave if they are not threatened. If you fall or are knocked down, curl up and protect your face.

To-do list. If a dog bites someone or you are bit, the following steps should be taken:

  • Restrain the dog
  • Check the victim's condition. Wash the wound with soap and water and seek professional help.
  • Provide important information: your name, address and rabies vaccination information.
  • Call the police. They make a report and notify Animal Care and Control.
  • Follow Animal Care and Control  instructions. A visit to your veterinarian and possible quarantine will be needed.

Responsible care and prevention. Dogs are wonderful companions. The happiness and safety of you, your pet and people who interact with your pet are important for us. By responsibly taking care of your dog and educating your family and friends, you will develop a closer bond with your pet and help prevent dog bites.

Interesting YouTube videos:

How Can Children Avoid Dog Bites