Now that the warmer weather is approaching, there is more likelihood for you to encounter dogs who may have gotten away or are roaming. Knowing the top reasons why dogs bite can make it easier for you to predict and prevent unwanted behavior in your pet and in pets you encounter. Here are the top five reasons why dogs bite and tips on how to handle each:
Protecting their property is a common issue among dogs, particularly herding breeds and guard dogs. If they feel that something that belongs to them is being threatened, whether that is food, a toy, or their owner, they may attack.
The best way to combat against this possessive behavior is by incorporating the “leave it” command into your dog’s regular training. Teaching your dog to wait to eat until you have put their food down and given them the proper command will help deter unwanted food aggression.
A fearful dog is most likely to attack when they are in an unfamiliar situation or approached by unfamiliar people such as postal workers or veterinarians. However, a dog may also bite if they are startled at home, which is why it is important to avoid suddenly waking a sleeping dog or otherwise sneaking up on them.
Understanding the general characteristics of each dog breed’s personality can also help protect you from being bitten. For example, Golden Retrievers are known for being friendly and social, so they typically love to greet new dogs and people. German Shepherds, on the other hand, are known to be incredibly protective of their family and territory, and if they have not been socialized properly, they can be quite aggressive toward strangers.
Even the friendliest dog may bite if they have suffered a painful injury. To prevent biting, avoid the sore area and be incredibly gentle when handling the dog. If your sociable dog has suddenly become aggressive and snippy, pain is a likely cause and you should schedule a checkup with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
4. The Prey Drive
Something or someone moving quickly past a dog, such as a bicyclist, jogger or vehicle, typically triggers the prey drive instinct. So if you see a roaming dog the next time you’re out biking or running, move to the other side of the street to avoid crossing their path.
Always move slowly around an unfamiliar dog and give them plenty of space when passing them to avoid an attack.
5. Maternal Instincts
If you want to avoid being bitten, respect the maternal rights of a female dog that has recently given birth. Even the most well-trained dog can become aggressive where her young is concerned. Use extreme caution when handling puppies around their mothers, and make sure that they are kept in a safe, quiet space where they feel comfortable.
Other Tips to Prevent a Dog Bite:
Let the Dog Approach You — Dogs recognize new people by smell, not sight. Remaining still and letting the dog approach you and inhale your scent will put them at ease.
- Share, Don’t Stare — Giving treats will help ensure that the dog associates you with good things (i.e. tasty snacks), but staring at them is incredibly confrontational and will make them feel threatened.
- Never Assume That a Dog Is Friendly — Always ask the owner for permission to pet their dog. If permission is granted, follow the two steps above to help ensure a happy greeting.
- Don’t Take It Personally — Just like not all humans get along with one another, not all dogs love all people. If you remain still and hold out your hand but the dog does not come toward you, don’t take it personally. Leave the dog alone and go about your day.