LiveWell Louisiana

Dog Bite Prevention

They may be man’s best friend, but any dog can bite under stressful situations.
June 6th, 2016 by: Misty Miloto

Even though National Dog Bite Prevention Week was in May, it’s never too late to learn some tips on how to avoid a bite. According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, more than 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs each year. Here are a few top dog bite prevention tips from Erin Askeland, seasoned dog training and behavior expert at Camp Bow Wow.

1. Know how to identify and manage key warning signs.

  • Lip Licking, Yawning, Wide Eyes and Spiked Fur If a dog is being hugged, tugged on, etc., and begins to emit these warning signs, this is a clear indicator that he/she is now stressed.
  • Growling and Snapping Never try to get a dog to stop growling; we want it to growl, as it lets us know that he/she is uncomfortable. If a dog gets in trouble for growling, it will stop and can immediately go to biting.
  • A Stiff Wagging Tail A dog that is experiencing stress will wag its tail in a stiff manner (a telltale warning sign that it might bite). Look out for a tail that is pointed high and moves even more quickly back and forth.
  • Averting Their Gaze Avoidance behavior indicates that the dog is not comfortable with the particular situation.
  • Cowering or Tail Tucking This behavior indicates that a dog is fearful. It doesn’t mean the dog will bite, but could if the dog’s fear continues to increase.
  • Backing Away or Hiding Whether the dog backs itself into a corner or tries to hide, this is a clear indication that the dog is uncomfortable and trying to escape. It is important to leave dogs that are exhibiting this behavior alone! Allow them to come to you.

2. Never leave a child under 10 years old alone with a dog. This rule must be enforced at all times, no matter how much you trust your four-legged friend. In most cases, children aren’t able to pick up on these warning signs that a dog may bite and can easily get hurt.

3. Always ask, “May I pet your dog?” If there is a dog you or your child wants to touch, ask the pet parent first so they can inform you as to whether or not their pet is comfortable with new people.

4. Never tie up your dog. Dogs that are chained-up in the backyard or any other area are more likely to bite because they can become protective of that particular territory. Also, never approach a dog who is tied up.

5. Never force any interaction on a dog. Hugs in particular are common sources of anxiety that humans love to inflict upon their own dogs.