NEW YORK (April 2, 2014) – For many dog lovers, it may be hard to face the fact that each year more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs. Although a dog may be man’s best friend, every animal is capable of biting when feeling threatened or provoked. Canines are everywhere in today’s world, and some are friendlier than others. It’s important for both pet parents and non-pet owners to have a basic understanding of raising a dog, their behaviors, and how to prevent bites from happening. Colleen Demling, owner of Pawtopia Dog Training located in San Diego, shares dog bite prevention tips that will be informative and beneficial to all individuals and their furry friends!
Protect and Educate Children
Children between the ages of 5 and 9 are more likely to be bitten by a dog than any other age group. As a parent, it’s important to teach children on how to behave around pets. Studies have found that the number-one dog-bite prevention measures are through education. Small children often move around quickly and could play rough with their furry family member. For instance, ear pulling, skin pinching, or tail tugging MUST be off limits.
A child who invades a dog’s territory has a greater chance of getting bitten. The main cause of aggression in a dog stems from territorial behavior. It’s important to teach children to never tease or disturb a dog that’s sleeping, eating or protecting something. Explain to a child that face-to-face contact or hugging could make their animal friend feel uncomfortable. Instead, scratch the dog gently on the neck or chest.
Be sure to set strict rules with a child. For instance, always ask a dog’s owner for permission before petting. Both adults and children should follow this basic rule.
Reinforce to children that if a strange dog approaches while outside, “be a tree” and stand still. Eventually the dog will find this boring and will go away. The “be a tree” idea also applies if a family dog becomes aggressive or too frisky as well.
Spay or Neuter Your Dog
There are a number of good reasons to spay or neuter a dog. For one, neutering prevents unwanted dogs that may end up in shelters. Shelter animals often live in less than ideal conditions and could grow up to be poorly socialized and aggressive.
Although having a dog spayed or neutered does not guarantee that he will never bite, there is evidence that suggests these altered pets tend to be calmer, healthier and less likely to become aggressive. The Humane Society of the United States statistics reflect that dogs who have not been spayed or neutered are up to three times more likely to be involved in a biting incident than neutered or spayed dogs.
Use Obedience Training and Positive Reinforcement
Obedience training can teach pups proper behavior and help owners control their dog in any scenario. Basic commands are a great way to keep a dog focused in a situation where the dog feels uncomfortable. Training opens up a line of communication between dog and owner, and obedience training is an easy way to establish the social hierarchy. When a pup obeys commands, it shows compliance and respect for the owner. If a pet parent is able to control their dog’s behavior, then he is less likely to bite.
Reward-based training helps create a range of desirable behaviors in a pet, which builds mutual feelings of trust and confidence. Positive reinforcement training is a friendly method of teaching a dog to perform behaviors using treats, toys or other positive actions as a reward. Many experts believe physical punishment or harsh corrections creates side effects causing fear, distrust or aggression in a dog. Positive-reinforcement methods will ultimately improve a dog’s behavior, making them less likely to behave aggressively. Rewarding good behavior rather than punishing inappropriate behavior can reduce the likelihood of a dog bite.
Be Aware of Body Language
Many people don’t recognize the subtle signs of stress in dog body language. It’s essential to pay close attention to their body language at all times. Ears laying flat, bared teeth, a lowered head, panting excessively, raised hackles, are a few signs that a dog is feeling uncomfortable and may bite. If a dog is displaying this type of body language, it’s important to give him space or take him out of the situation that’s making him feel threatened or stressed.
Very often pet owners feel they should teach their canine companions to not growl. A dog can’t speak or express his feelings verbally, so growling is his way of communicating he is uncomfortable with a person or situation. This should be a warning signal that he’s unhappy and about to snap. Growling is an important means of communication for a dog and owners should appreciate and respect this rather than punish.
A Socialized Dog is a Well Behaved Dog
When bringing home a new puppy, it’s important to remember that the best thing to do is introduce this new furry family member to as many new people, places and situations as possible. If a dog has not been properly socialized and trained, he or she could develop fear-aggression or territorial problems.
Allowing a dog to get outdoors and explore busy and unfamiliar environments is beneficial for expanding their level of comfort in various situations. Dogs need to learn how to behave around other dogs barking, children playing and screaming, people riding bicycles or jogging. Dog parks and doggie daycares are just two ways to do so. The more comfortable a dog is around strangers, the less chance he will bite.
Safety is Key
Responsible dog owners need to take the necessary measures to reduce the risk of dog bites; however, safety doesn’t just end with dog owners. It’s important for everyone to understand that certain behaviors can cause a dog to bite or attack.
Dogs are territorial by nature and may feel threatened if they are unfamiliar with a person. Always keep in mind to respect a dog’s space and allow them to investigate you before touching them. If approached by a dog that is off leash, stand still, with arms crossed over chest and avoid eye contact with the dog. Do not run away, yell or make loud noises.
Dog bites are a serious problem but could be controlled and prevented. It’s important for pet owners to take training, socializing, and monitoring their dog’s body language seriously. As for non-pet owners, staying updated and informed on ways to handle physical encounters with canines is crucial as well. Although most dogs make great, loving family members, it’s vital to always be prepared and stay safe!
About Colleen Demling
With over 9,000 hours and 12 years of HANDS ON dog training experience, Pawtopia’s founder, Colleen Demling, has vast experience in a variety of methodologies. She is a CPDT-KA as well as an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. She trained Service Dogs for Canine Companions for several years before starting Pawtopia. She has been featured in the local media and published in numerous national magazines including EPregnancy and Prevention. She designed the Temperament Test for the Therapy Dog Program at the Naval Medical Center San Diego and also writes monthly articles for many local rescues and other dog related websites. She has professional associations with the International Association of Canine Professionals and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.
About Pawtopia Dog Training
Pawtopia uses our dog training expertise & knowledge of different methodologies to develop personalized training programs for you and your pup. We offer group classes and private training througout San Diego County. For more on Pawtopia visit http://pawtopia.com/. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pawtopia-Dog-Training/299545394034. Twitter: @Pawtopia. YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/pawtopia.
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