Did you know that dog bites are common, affecting people of all ages? More than 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs every year- and nearly 800,000 of those require medical attention.
Dogs may bite for various reasons- fear, pain, anger, dominance, territoriality, or simply because they’re playing. Some dogs may be more prone to biting than others, but there are ways to help prevent dog bites from happening in the first place. Let’s see the eight things you can do.
Be a responsible pet owner
The first and most important thing you can do to prevent your dog from biting is to be a responsible pet owner. This means ensuring that your dog is properly trained, socialized, and exercised. A well-rounded dog is less likely to bite out of frustration or aggression.
On the other hand, a dog that is neglected, abused, or poorly trained is more likely to lash out. If you can’t commit to taking care of your dog properly, it’s best not to get one at all. If your dog is displaying signs of aggression, seek professional help from a qualified trainer or behaviorist.
Additionally, if your dog attacks someone, you may be held liable for their injuries. This means they can contact dog bite attorneys, and you could be sued or even face criminal charges. The compensation and legal fees can be astronomical, so it’s best to do everything you can to prevent your dog from biting in the first place.
Spay or neuter your dog
Studies have shown that dogs who are spayed or neutered are less likely to bite than those who aren’t. This may be because the hormones produced by the reproductive organs can influence a dog’s behavior. Spaying or neutering your dog can also help to reduce other aggressive behaviors such as humping, marking, and fighting with other dogs.
Additionally, spaying or neutering your dog can help to keep the population of homeless animals down. Every year, millions of dogs are euthanized in shelters because there aren’t enough homes for them all. Don’t contribute to this problem – have your pet spayed or neutered.
Provide proper chew toys
Chew toys are a great way to keep your dog’s mouth occupied and help prevent them from biting. Dogs like to chew on things for a variety of reasons- to relieve boredom, ease anxiety, or simply because it feels good. By giving your dog an appropriate outlet for their chewing urges, you can help prevent them from resorting to chewing on furniture, clothing, or even people.
Chew toys come in all shapes and sizes, so there’s sure to be one that your dog will love. If you’re not sure where to start, ask your veterinarian or local pet store for recommendations.
Don’t play aggressive games
Some people think it’s cute to play games like “tug-of-war” or “fetch” with their dog using their hands or fingers instead of a toy. However, this can encourage your dog to bite and nip at your hands, which can lead to accidents. It’s best to avoid these types of games altogether and stick to playing with toys instead.
For instance, you could try playing “fetch” with a ball or Frisbee. Or, you could teach your dog tricks like “shake” or “rollover.” These types of activities will help to strengthen the bond between you and your dog without encouraging aggression.
Be cautious around strange dogs
Even if you have a well-trained and friendly dog, it’s important to be cautious around strange dogs. Dogs can sense when we’re nervous or afraid, which can trigger their predatory or defensive instincts. If you see a dog that looks menacing or is acting aggressively, it’s best to keep your distance.
If you’re ever approached by an unfamiliar dog, remain calm and avoid making eye contact. Try to keep your body relaxed and avoid running or screaming, as this could trigger the dog’s chase instinct. If the dog does attack, use whatever you have on hand to protect yourself, such as a purse, jacket, or even a stick.
Don’t leave children unattended with dogs
Children are often the victims of dog bites because they’re small and vulnerable. They also tend to act impulsively around dogs, which can lead to accidents. For these reasons, it’s important to never leave children unattended with dogs – even if the dog is friendly.
If you have young children in your home, make sure they understand how to interact with dogs safely. They should know never to approach a dog they don’t know, to always ask an adult before petting a dog, and to be gentle when playing with dogs. Additionally, children should be taught not to disturb a dog who is eating, sleeping, or taking care of puppies.
Socialize your dog
Well-socialized dogs are less likely to bite than those who aren’t. Socialization means exposing your dog to a variety of people, places, and situations so that it can learn how to behave appropriately in different situations.
Ideally, socialization should begin when your dog is a puppy; however, it’s never too late to socialize with an older dog. You can socialize your dog in several ways, such as taking them to the dog park, enrolling them in obedience classes, or inviting friends to meet them.
Get regular exercise
A tired dog is a happy dog. Dogs who get plenty of exercises are less likely to bite out of boredom, frustration, or anxiety, so ensure you’re giving your dog enough opportunities to run and play. Depending on your dog’s breed and energy level, they may need several walks or play sessions each day.
Additionally, a well-nourished dog is less likely to bite than one who isn’t getting the nutrients they need. Ensure you’re feeding your high-quality dog food appropriate for their age, breed, and activity level. Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions about your dog’s diet.
Dog bites are common, but there are ways to help prevent them. By socializing your dog, getting regular exercise, and being cautious around strange dogs, you can help to keep yourself and your family safe from harm. Make sure to also teach your children how to interact with dogs safely to help avoid accidents.