How to Prevent Dog Bites
You may be concerned about being bitten by a dog or about your own dog biting another person or animal. The following guidelines can prevent most dog bites. With responsible pet owners and the appropriate conduct by people in the presence of dogs, we can reduce these incidents in our community
How to Avoid Being Bitten
The following guidelines can prevent a dog from biting:
Allow dogs their own space. Dogs who are sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies as a rule should not be disturbed because they could react aggressively to defend themselves, their food, or their offspring.
Avoid strange dogs. You do not know the temperament of a strange dog, and any fenced-in or tied out dog is more prone to protect its territory. It is best to leave such dogs alone.
Walk steadily past a dog. Dogs have a natural drive to chase prey, so running past or away from a dog will almost always excite the animal to chase you.
Remain still, silent, and gaze at the sky. If you think a dog may attack you, remain motionless and quiet and look over the dog’s head until the dog leaves you. Then back slowly away until the dog is out of sight. Screaming and running excites the dog’s chase response and direct eye contact is threatening and challenging to the dog.
Protect yourself. If a dog does attack, "feed" him a purse, jacket, or anything else into which he can sink his teeth. If you end up on the ground, curl into a ball and put your fists over your ears. Try to be still and quiet, as screaming and thrashing will further agitate the dog.
Educate your children. Use appropriate materials (some of which are available from MACC) to teach children how to behave safely in the presence of dogs.
How to Prevent Your Dog from Biting
Spay or neuter your dog. Sterilized dogs are much less prone to bite and roam than intact ones.
Control your dog. An unfortunate incident can usually be prevented by properly confining or leashing your dog. When letter carriers or delivery persons come to your home, keep your dog inside, away from the door, or on a leash. Given that your dog’s instinct is to "protect" the family, don’t let your child take the mail from the letter carrier in the dog’s presence.
Socialize your dog. Dogs who are well socialized are much less likely to bite because they respond to people with confidence rather than out of fear. Avoid unusual situations unless your dog encounters diverse people and situations with confidence.
Teach your dog acceptable behaviors. Enroll in an obedience class, which teaches your dog to accept human leadership as well as good manners. (A list of these classes is available from MACC.) Don’t play games that encourage aggression, such as tug-of-war. Well-mannered dogs become devoted family members. They are not likely to develop behavior problems when they spend time with their families and not outside by themselves.
Assume responsibility for behavior problems. Never simply give away a dog with behavior problems such as biting or aggression. Consult your veterinarian, an animal behaviorist, or an obedience instructor to find out how to modify and manage these unacceptable behaviors. If you must give up your dog because its behavior problem has not been cured with professional help, please contact MACC.
Last updated May 15, 2013