Experiencing a dog bite is the last thing anyone wants. Unfortunately, dog bites occur more often than you may realize and can pose serious health risks within communities causing significant injury to humans, especially children. National Dog Bite Prevention Week brings awareness to dog bites and focuses on educating the public, especially dog owners, on dog bites and how to prevent them from happening. Continue reading to understand more about the causes of dog bites, signs of stress in dogs, and how to prevent dog bites from affecting you.
Causes of Dog Bites
There are many causes of dog bites, but they most often occur as a reaction to something. Listed below are some of the common causes of dog bites:
When a dog is placed in a stressful situation or environment, it may bite to defend itself or its territory.
Dog bites can also occur when a dog is startled, afraid, or threatened in an attempt to protect itself. Another common occurrence of dog bites is when they’re protecting something valuable to them, such as their puppies, owners, food, or toys.
Dogs who are sick or aren’t feeling well are more susceptible to biting, especially if they’re irritable and want to be left alone after experiencing a surgery, injury, or illness.
During playtime, dogs are more likely to bite or nip at you, and although it might be fun for them, it can be dangerous for people. So, it’s usually a good idea to avoid doing playful activities that can make your dog over-excited and discourage them from using their mouths when they play.
Signs of Stress in a Dog
Stress in dogs can lead to significant health and behavioral issues that can be detrimental to their interactions with people. Signs of stress in dogs can range from subtle to obvious, and being able to read these signs is key in identifying the causes of dog bites and preventing them. Listed below are some of the common signs indicating stress in a dog:
- Excessive barking/whining
- Excessive yawning/drooling/licking/panting/sniffing/scratching
- Excessive tail wagging
- Hunched shoulders
- Ears tucked back
- Looking from the side (“side-eye”)
- Tucked tail
- Dilated pupils
- Excessive shedding
Preventing Dog Bites
Preventing dog bites is a great way to maintain a safe, healthy, and understanding relationship between humans and dogs. Listed below are some helpful tips for preventing dog bites:
Socializing your dog
Socializing your dog is a great way to prevent them from biting. Socializing helps your dog feel more at ease in various situations and environments. When you introduce your dog to people and other animals as a puppy, it feels more comfortable and is able to adjust to different situations and environments as they age. Using a leash in public is also key in maintaining control over your dog.
Being a responsible pet owner
Being a responsible pet owner allows you to build a solid foundation for preventing and reducing the risk of dog bites. For instance, things like carefully selecting the right dog fit for your family, proper training, regular exercise, and taking your dog to the vet regularly play a significant role in being a responsible pet owner.
Educating your family
It’s important to educate your family on properly approaching your dog and signs indicating whether it should be approached, especially if you have children. This will give them the tools they need to evaluate a situation and avoid a potential issue.
Monitor interactions with children
Even the best dogs can be prone to biting if put in a bad situation. Children have the best intentions with their furry friends, but from a dog’s point of view, they can be loud, unpredictable, and a bit scary. Never leave small children unattended with a dog.
Paying attention to body language
Reading a dog’s body language can be extremely helpful in preventing dog bites. A dog’s body language can give helpful hints indicating whether it’s feeling stressed, afraid, startled, or threatened.
Avoiding risky situations
It’s important to know when and how to avoid risky situations where you should or shouldn’t interact with dogs. Listed below are some situations where you should avoid petting a dog:
- If the dog is not with its owner
- If the owner hasn’t given you permission
- If the dog is on the opposite side of a fence
- If a dog is sleeping
- If a dog is eating
- If a dog is sick or injured
- If a dog is with her puppies
- If a dog is playing with a toy
- If a dog is growling or barking
- If a dog appears to be hiding or seeking time alone
Here at Mount Carmel Animal Hospital, We’ll Treat Your Pets Like Family!
Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook!