“You scared me. My natural instinct is to protect my space, my masters. I don’t know you. And, you don’t know me. My body language and my bark is my way to communicate. It’s up to you to read my queues. You’re the smart one, read my queues or else my life is at stake.” — misunderstood dog
Today, we need to discuss something that isn’t the most fun – dog bites. May 17th through the 23rd is National Dog Bite Prevention Week and KirinGie.me is here to talk about our furry friend’s teeth.
More often than not, they don’t mean to bite us. Usually, they get a bit overexcited and may accidentally nip us during playtime. Puppies may gnaw at you because they’re teething.
The most recent study on dog bites was conducted in 1994 by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The reality is that only about a little under 2% of the U.S. population get bitten by a dog every year. About 83% of these bites result in no injury and medical treatment is unnecessary. Unfortunately, approximately 800,000 people (half of which are children) seek medical treatment. Anywhere from 15 to 20 bites per year are fatal.
However, these numbers shouldn’t let us stray from our love of our doggy pals. We just need to take preventative measures to ensure that we don’t find ourselves caught in this situation.
It’s important to begin by understanding that all dogs have the potential to bite. Size is irrelevant. The dog could be the cutest, most cuddly puppy in the whole world. If it’s provoked, that dog could bite you.
So what’s considered appropriate behavior around a dog? How should we behave so we don’t provoke them? It’s important to note that the list is not comprehensive. Rather, these are some common situations that can be prevented.
- Avoid approaching a dog who’s sleeping, eating, or chewing on a toy. Animals are more prone to bite you if they’re startled or frightened.
- If you see a dog caring for her puppies, let her be. Dogs are more on guard when taking care of their babies. It’s a natural instinct for all mother’s to be protective.
- Ask permission before petting a dog you don’t know. If the pet parent says okay, then let the dog sniff your hand first. Be gentle when you pet them.
- Avoid petting a dog that’s behind a fence or in a car. Dogs can get very protective over their spaces and you can’t be sure if they’re hostile.
We need to also be able to read a dog’s body language. If you see any of the following behaviors, it is advised that you put some space between you and the dog.
- Intense stare
- Fur puffs out
- Tensed body
- Exposed front teeth
- Stiff tail
- Head and/or ears are pulled back
- Furrowed brow
If a dog is exhibiting any of these behaviors, do NOT turn your back to it, scream, and/or run away. The dog will probably chase you and it’s not likely that you’ll outrun it. Instead, stand still and keep your hands at your side. Try not to make eye contact with the dog.
One of two things will happen:
- The dog sniffs you then loses interest. If this happens, slowly back away without turning around until the dog goes away.
- The dog attacks. If this happens, put something between you and the dog. This can be a purse or a jacket. If you get knocked down, curl up and put your hands over your ears. Avoid screaming and moving around.
Unfortunately, sometimes, dog bites do happen. If this is the case, and this is easier said than done, try really hard not to panic. Wash the bitten area with warm water and soap as soon as possible. Contact your physician to see what else may need to be done. Report the incident to your local animal care and control agency. Tell the official everything you know about the dog. If it’s a dog you know, that would include the owner’s name and address. If the dog is a stray, describe what it looks like, where you saw it, whether you’ve seen it before, and where it went.
Training your dog to not bite is part of being a responsible parent. We understand that accidents sometimes happen but teaching our dogs to not bite as well as teaching ourselves to not provoke is a step in the right direction.