What to do About Dog Bites?
The unbreakable bond between human and dog has been observed for centuries. Yet, man’s best friend is not immune to over-excitement or over-protection, which can sometimes result in rough play.
Whether intended as gentle affection or with aggression, dogs have teeth and the ability to bite; each other, and humans too.
But, with early training, it doesn’t have to be this way. Many dogs are friendly and enjoy interaction with people but it is important to be educated on how to prevent dog bites from occurring. Any dog can bite if provoked, even those that normally seem friendly and easy going. To prevent bites, both kids and adults need to know how to behave around dogs to respect their space and minimize any risk of injury. Parents should take the time to teach children about basic safety when around dogs.
The early days
In their early days, it’s normal for puppies to bite, especially as they begin to teethe. This is a sign that your dog could benefit from some chew toys. A variety of fun toys will ensure they are not destructing your house!
Right from the start, it’s important to put some good practices in place to teach your dog that it’s not okay to bite. Ignoring your dog following a bout of bad behavior is part of their education.
Dogs can nip and bite during play, but we have our role to play. Don’t provoke a dog by playing tug-of-war with them, or wrestling with them, which brings out aggressive traits.
Oftentimes you can understand a dog by observing their body language. Being able to identify when an animal is upset by their body language can help you avoid being bitten. Aggressive dogs will often try to make themselves look bigger. The fur on their back may stand up and they will likely have a stiff stance and will be staring directly at the perceived threat. Aggressive dogs may also bare their teeth, lunge, growl, or bark. Anxious or scared dogs will usually try to make themselves look smaller. They may crouch, lower their heads, and tuck their tails between their legs. Scared or anxious dogs that feel that they can’t retreat from a threat may snarl, growl, and even bite. If a dog is showing any signs of aggression, fear, or anxiety, they should be left alone until they are calm.
Children and dogs
The last thing anyone wants is for their child to be bitten. Not only can this be unpleasant and in certain cases require medical treatment, but it can lead to long-term fear of this wonderful animal. Even if there isn’t a dog in the household, chances are that kids will come into contact with one at some point, whether at a friend’s house or outside.
From the get-go, it’s therefore important to teach your children to be respectful of dogs.
But first; young children should never be left alone with a dog, under any circumstances.
Youngsters need to be taught to be kind to animals. This means no pulling their tails or riding on them, which will only build aggression.
Kids should be taught never to approach a dog that is sleeping or eating, and to always ask a pet owner if they can touch their dog before doing so.
It’s also important that kids know not to approach unfamiliar dogs, and should always ask permission first. Dogs tend to be protective of their homes so kids should also be instructed to never pet dogs through a window or fence. Dogs should always be on a leash but in the event your child encounters a loose dog, they should know not to scream and start running but instead back away slowly until they are a safe distance from the animal.
Socialization is an important step in your dog’s life. This is the process where, from a young age, they are introduced to other dogs in order to behave better around them. In the early days of owning a puppy, it’s important to put in the time, if you want to have a well-behaving dog for years to enjoy.
If you don’t have the time, a professional dog trainer and some dog walkers may be able to socialize your dog for you. However, where possible, it’s always better for the owner to teach their dog, as it means they will yield more power over them. In a breed where pack mentality is important, this can play an important role in managing your pup.
The American Kennel Club has a Canine Good Citizen Program designed to train your dog to the highest standard.
Through socialization, your dog will learn how to behave around other dogs, which will reduce aggressive behaviors such as biting (each other and owners).
Owners should also learn as much about a pet’s background as possible to ensure responsible pet ownership. It is imperative that pet owners do proper research prior to getting a dog. Potential owners should educate themselves on raising puppies, proper dog care, nutrition, and much more before bringing home a dog. After a dog is brought home they should be spayed or neutered by a qualified veterinarian. Spayed or neutered dogs are generally healthier and may be less likely to bite.
Overall, the risk of dog bites is greatly reduced when both owners and others act responsibly around animals. Of all things, responsible dog ownership is one of the biggest keys to bite prevention.
How to manage dog bites?
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, try and stay calm and never lash out. Move your dog into a contained area swiftly, so you can attend to your bite.
Nearly half of all dog bites introduce bacteria, for that reason you may want to press on the wound gently, to help flush out as much of this as possible. Then immediately wash the wound with water and mild soap. Apply a clean cloth to the bite and if it’s still bleeding hold this part of your body up, to restrict blood flow. If you have a bandage, apply this firmly.
Visit a healthcare provider as soon as possible, immediately if you suspect any sign of infection (swelling, redness, pain, fever).
You may also want to check with a veterinarian that the dog is up to date on rabies and other vaccinations.