Each year, dog bites occur more than 4.5 million times in the U.S. This is an astounding statistic, but it is also one that can be prevented with proper education and training. Here are some great tips on how to protect yourself and your dog from a bite.
1. Socialize your dog
Dogs that are unfamiliar with their surroundings can often bite out of fear. By constantly changing where you walk your dog, he will become more comfortable with new places. Be sure to introduce your dog to neighbors and family members so strangers don’t frighten him.
Familiarity with basic commands like “sit”, “stay” and “come” help you remove your dog from a potentially contentious situation. When it comes to play, focus on non-aggressive activities such as fetch. Actions like wrestling and tug-of-war can encourage inappropriate behavior.
3. Prevent food aggression
Teach your dog to be comfortable with people handling his food. Your dog should feel comfortable with you removing his food bowl and putting it back while he is eating. If you have adopted an older dog, be patient and take small steps.
4. Learn body language
This is perhaps one of the most important and often over-looked ways to prevent dog bites. You are your dog’s advocate, so know what he is saying by watching his body language, and teach your children to do the same. You can apply this same learning to dogs you don’t know (see image).
5. Respect your dog’s space
Some dogs love to be hugged, but most dogs do not enjoy the feeling of being confined, so be cautious of this behavior and teach children never to hug a strange dog. When a dog is sleeping, don’t interrupt him. Wake him up with verbal cues rather than touching him.
6. Keep your dog on a leash
If you allow your dog to run free, make sure he is in a safe and fenced enclosure. On walks, ask people to get your permission before petting your dog, and exercise the same respect to others.