This week is national bite prevention week, and according to the American Veterinary Medical Association 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the United States alone. If you know how to read a dog’s signs and educate young children on how to properly greet a dog, those numbers could significantly change. There are two things that every owner should consider when their dog encounters a situation with new people or situations that make them nervous. Remember that you are your dog’s voice, and you must interpret what the dog is trying to tell you.
One: Remember to be your dog’s advocate. Know when they look stressed, and be ready to remove them for the situation when necessary. Most dog bites are preventable and dogs show signs before resorting to biting. Look out for signs of stress in your dog that could lead to them eventually to biting. A great reference for this an article about reading stress signs in your dog. Don’t be afraid to appear like the “bad guy” in situations. This just means you are being an advocate for your pooch and you are making sure you don’t make the dog feel like they have to handle the situation themselves. Preventing a negative incident is as simple as taking your dog away from a situation or not allowing someone to meet your dog.
Two keep in mind that, every dog has the right to say no. Know that every dog has a certain limit; know that no matter how squishy your dog is there may be a person that frightens your dog when they meet. If your dog is saying “no,” you have to respect that. You don’t want to force your pooch to meet people in situations where they are clearly trying to get away. Read your dog’s body language and let your dog be able to tell you, “no I don’t want to meet that person.”
It is important to educate yourself on ways to prevent dog bites, which would include knowing the proper way of greeting a dog. If you have young children it is also important to make sure that they know how to properly greet a dog as well. The more we educate ourselves and others on proper dog etiquette, the more efficient we will be at preventing dog bites.