Take a Bite Outa This

Sam here…with almost 70 millions dogs in this country, it’s no wonder there’s a  National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Mom just mentioned it to me so I thought I’d write a post about it from a dog’s perspective.

IMG_1219 Some facts about dog bites:

  • The CDC says that dog bites were the 11th leading cause of non-fatal injury to children ages 1 to 4, 9th for ages 5 to 9, and 10th for ages 10 to 14 from 2003 to 2012?
  • The Insurance Information Institute estimates that insurers paid just under $500 million in dog bite claims in 2013.
  • The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports almost 27,000 reconstructive procedures were performed in 2013 to repair injuries caused by dog bites.
  • The US Postal Service reports that over 5,500 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2013. Children, elderly, and postal carriers are the most frequent victims of dog bites.
  • The American Humane Association reports that 66 percent of bites among children occur on the head and neck.

I’m not a biter–there’s not a cross bone in my body, In fact, I’m a very good and sweet boy but it’s probably because Mom did a few smart things when she first brought me home (and continues to do). It’s not to say I couldn’t bite under certain situations. Here’s what Mom does and recommends:

How to Keep Us from Becoming a Statistic

  • Socialization and training to respond consistently to basic obedience commands. This strategy cannot be stressed enough. Mom made sure I was socialized as soon as she brought me home, that very afternoon in fact. I lived the country life so being in the city was really weird to me. I’d never seen a stroller, a bus, had no idea how to deal with sandwich boards or even curbs and buses. We immediately went on the very long walk and I was able to sniff out all the wonderful smells in our neighborhood and get used to seeing people, other dogs, bicycles and cars. Proper and ongoing socialization is the single most important thing you can do to reduce behavior problems. The “ounce of prevention” is definitely worth a pound of cure.
  • Provide us with loads of exercise. Regular aerobic exercise is necessary for physical conditioning and it also provides good mental stimulation for us dogs so we’re always well-balanced.
  • Playtime is important, but don’t over-stimulate us or pit us against you, like wrestling or tug-of-war. Never put us in a situation where we feel threatened.
  • Use a leash when we’re out in public. Remember though it’s not enough to put a leash or harness on a dog with unpredictable behavior; you need to be able to control that pooch. If you can’t, you need to get additional obedience training and make sure dog-walking duties are done with someone who can maintain control. No wimps here.
  • Secure our yards so that they are completely secure. Make sure the fence is high enough so we aren’t able to jump (or dig) our way out. And definitely make sure the gate is secure/locked.
  • Proceed with caution regarding vaccinations. Mounting evidence suggests rabies vaccines in particular may be contributing to aggression in some dogs. Since rabies vaccines are required by law, insist on the 3-year vaccine and avoid the annual shot. Ask your vet for the homeopathic rabies vaccine detox Lyssin after each rabies vaccine.
  • Discuss the best time to spay or neuter your pet. Intact pets are sometimes more aggressive than those who have been neutered. In addition to reproduction concerns, timing is critical, and smart decisions should be based our total health and personality.
  • Teach kids how to behave around us. Children are by far the most frequent victims of dog bites and need to learn to be cautious and respectful with all dogs, especially their own. Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.

Things to keep in mind as our guardians

  • Lifelong learning, socialization, and mental stimulation are essential if we are to become (and stay) balanced.
  • Ongoing training and proactive behavior modification are essential to avoiding problems.
  • We may need a refresher obedience or socialization course between 2-3 years of age. If you don’t like the direction we’re taking, it’s on you to make sure we get the proper training.
  •  If you adopt (especially a puppy) during the colder months of the year, begin socialization ASAP so that once warm weather arrives we will be used to sights, sounds, and other stimuli of summer. In fact start socialization right away no matter what the time of year!
  •  Dog bites are more common in hot weather probably because we tend to be outside more often.  Kids play outdoors with us so please realize we can become irritable and aggressive in the heat. Some of you bipeds get grouchy when it’s too hot, so understand it’s possible for us, too. 😉
  • Research the type of dog best suited to your family and lifestyle before selecting. Impulse adoptions are just a bad idea. If we’re your first dog, talk with a vet, a well-informed shelter or rescue employee, reputable breeder, or other knowledgeable person.

More Ways on How to Stay Safe

  • Approach strange dogs with caution. Don’t rush up to pet us before we see and sniff you and let us approach you on our terms. Not all of us are as friendly as I am and could be intimidated by you. 🙂
  • Never turn your back to us or try to run away. Our natural instinct may be to give chase and view you as prey.
  • Don’t attempt to interact with us if we’re sleeping, eating, playing with a toy or bone, or with a mother dog with her puppies.

Signs that Indicate We Might Bite:

  • Our bodies may freeze up and we’re rigid in stature
  • Front legs splayed and head held low, looking at you
  • Curled lips showing teeth or growling

When we feel a threat:

  • Stand still with your hands at your sides
  • Avoid eye contact
  • If we lose interest, back away slowly
  • If we come at you – try to distract us with something
  • If you wind up on the ground, curl up into a ball, put your hands over your ears and stay still – resist the urge to yell, scream, or move around.

Stay safe and proactive and you’ll have a good dog just like me [tail wag].

Live, love, bark! <3


10 thoughts on “Take a Bite Outa This

  1. As a general rule of thumb I think if a parent can’t read dog body language they should not let their child approach a strange dog no matter if the owner says it’s okay . There are many dog parents who can’t read their own dog’s behavior and they will yank on their dogs to get them to sit so that the kids can pet them. And it’s pretty clear the dog wants none of it. This is just a recipe for disaster!

  2. I wish every parent would read this. My dogs are not biters but so many little kids will come up and try to hug them when we are out walking and the parents seem proud that their kids are not afraid.

  3. I get out a lot with my Mom (and Dad) and Mom race walks with me every week day about five miles minimum. On a good day, we do another long walk somewhere too, anywhere a dog can go. I love my Mom and protect her in a city that is beautiful but still kind of dangerous. One of my biggest peeves (and my Mom’s) are people who put their dogs on extender leashes and “ass-ume” that we want to have their dog reeled out into my face without asking. We HATE those leashes – and I’ve gotten snapped at a lot and bitten once by dogs who just come out without permission when we are both on leashes. And my Mom has been tripped – she’s no youngster (neither am I) and has Osteoporosis so she tries to avoid falls. You all know it’s not this bad in a dog park when we are free to move away. But on narrow sidewalks, it’s not fair – we can’t get away and I don’t want just any strange dog to come up to me. Pet parents should take some control over where their dogs can go on the street. Not everyone wants someone else’s dog in their face or around their feet. And ditch those stupid extender leashes for a 4 or 6 foot leash – try training your dogs too. Dogs like me love structure and enjoy doing the right thing (after we are shown what that is).

    1. Thank you for your comment and welcome to the ‘Ranch.’ I think we have a lot in common. 🙂 Those retractible leashes are the worst (have a long rant post about them recently). Sam has been tangled up by (if you can believe it) someone walking 3 dogs with 3 leashes scampering all over and under him. Seriously, 3 of ’em! Ugh.

  4. I’m always on a leash when we are in public… but just between us – that humans should wear a leash too… we avoid to get in contact when many people are around and they run to me and try to pet me…. that’s annoying, specially after the experience Olive the Weimaraner made with a stranger who had weird stuff on his fingers :o(

Feel free to bark your thoughts...but no growling please.

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