As National Dog Bite Prevention Week draws to a close, hopefully you’ve been able to spend at least a few minutes learning about the AVMA staggering dog bite statistics, using the short AVMA “Jimmy the Dog” videos to educate children about dog bites, or simply thinking of ways to avoid dog bites. At Lawndale we recognize and have seen first-hand that any dog, even the nicest dog, can bite – especially when the dog is in unfamiliar situations, feels scared or threatened, or is painful. Here are some important reminders:
- Remember, any dog can bite
- Always have permission to pet a dog that is not your own
- Stay out of the dog’s face
- Be gentle and go slow
- Watch for behavioral cues to signal you should leave the dog alone
For dog owners:
- It is important to familiarize yourself with your dog’s behaviors and cues. Often you can pick up on signals that your dog is scared, apprehensive, or needs a break from whatever is going on around him or her.
- If your dog has any type of medical condition that can cause pain or discomfort, remind everyone interacting with the dog that touching the dog in or around that area may elicit discomfort and unexpected behaviors (growling, snapping, biting, etc.).
- If you recognize your dog seems scared or fearful, find a way to remove your dog from the situation. For example, if you have a large group of visitors and your dog seems overwhelmed or uncomfortable, put your dog in his or her crate or in a quiet room
- If you have visitors, be mindful that your dog is not as familiar with visitors and may be more likely to display unexpected fearful or aggressive behaviors. So take extra precautions to keep your visitors and your dog as safe and happy as possible.
- Take extra precautions when your dog is around children
When visiting with someone else’s dog:
- Always be sure you have the owner’s permission to pet and interact with the dog.
- Keep in mind that this dog doesn’t know you as well as he or she knows the owner – which means the dog may be more apprehensive or need a break sooner rather than later.
- Avoid getting in the dog’s face! This can make the dog feel threatened and more likely to bite – and a bite to the face can be very traumatizing and difficult to manage
Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS