Nearly all dog breeds have very sharp teeth to help them tear and chew food, and allows them to bite others as a defense mechanism. There are approximately four and a half million people bitten by dogs in the United States every year, and children are the most severely injured in these statistics. This is because young children not aware of or have not been taught how to interact with a dog.
So, how should you behave and interact when living with a dog? Dogs normally do not bite ‘for no apparent reason’ so what are some of the most common reasons dogs bite? Knowing these reasons may help you prevent dog attacks and avoid being bitten.
Most people know that the number one reason most dogs bite people is because the animal feels threatened while they are eating or drinking. While it is not a smart idea, there have been instances where someone thought it might be funny to move the dog’s food or water bowl just to see how he might react. In the animal world, it is quite acceptable to fight for your meals so it is not wise to tease or test your dog in this manner.
Teach your child and other household members not to approach a dog while he is eating or drinking, as this is a common way people find themselves bitten. Even small sized dog breeds can pounce in a moment’s notice, and cause moderate to serious injuries which could result in a trip to the ER and the need for stitches. Due to their sharp teeth, dog bites are also known to commonly leave a nasty scar. For the safety of you and your children, no matter how loving your dog may be, NEVER try to approach your dog’s food and water while he is eating or drinking.
#2 – A biting dog is usually protecting his territory.
Just like people, dogs have their own personal space that they do not want invaded by other people or animals. Your dog may not show his discontent as soon as you step onto his territory because you are family, but strangers could likely be attacked for entering his personal place. For example, guard dogs are usually much more aggressive when strangers enter their territory. Because of this, owners of an aggressive dog should warn all who come within a close proximity of the animal.
#3 – Dogs often bite while attempting to protect his owner.
It happens more often than you realize. A protective and loyal dog that is bravely trying to protect his family will bite another person or animal, trying to ward off evil and take care of those he loves, no matter the cost. If a dog owner needs help or of someone approaches the owner out of malice, a dog’s intuition will push him to bite others. It is very common for dog bites to occur while your dog is trying to protect you, which is why you should always have a leash and collar on your pet when venturing outdoors. If strange guests arrive, put the animal in a spare room and close the door until you are sure it is safe to integrate the dog into your visit.
#4 – Be leery of a Mother dog protecting her puppies.
Maternal instincts is the another biggest factor to be considered when trying to understand dog bites, as this is a time when your dog is highly protective and easily angered or aggressive. Even the most properly trained dog can become a biter when she wants to protect her babies. In this case, you should teach your children never to approach or take a young puppy away from the mother, showing them how dangerous maternal instincts can be and how to show proper respect for her. If at all possible, you should move the mother and her puppies to a quiet and undisturbed area where they can get some peace and privacy. When these puppies become bigger, your good mannered and well-trained dog will return and you will have plenty of time to bond and play with the puppies.
#5 – Reduced patience levels are common among older dogs.
When your dog starts to grow older, he will become a lot grumpier. This is because he has aches and pains, which might be caused by arthritis, or he is suffering from one or more diseases. He will become less active and show a reduced level of interest in things he used to love. Try not to bother your senior dog, giving him plenty of space to rest because he may not have patience for the annoying adult or naughty child. If your dog begins to shy away from children and changes his sleeping place after your children stop touching him, your dog may be nearing the end of his patience. There are many signs your elder dog may exhibit that will warn you that he has no other defense, aside from biting.
#6 – Previously injured or sick dogs are highly unpredictable.
Just like senior dogs, an injured or sick dog is quite prone to biting people when he becomes annoyed. Usually, these animals will first curl up in the corner and lick his wounds or sleep to relieve some stress. People can often judge a dog’s irritability by his tail and his eyes. A suffering dog will be very stressed and does not want to be bothered. If this dog isn’t yours, you should keep a distance from him and try to inform the owner. If the dog is yours, call your vet as soon as possible and follow his instructions if the dog is injured, as an injured dog often lashes out because he is in pain.
#7 – Dogs that are constantly bothered by children may bite.
Why do dogs attack children? This is not a difficult question to answer. Children love furry dogs and want to play with them but they are often careless and rough with the pet. The child that is bitten by a dog probably hurt the dog first in some small way such as accidentally stepping on him, poking or pulling his fur, tail or ears and yanking on his tail. For nearly all dog breeds, these and other careless actions could seriously injure or kill them, causing the dog to defend him and his area by biting.
#8 – A scared dog can quickly become a dangerous dog.
When your dog is extremely afraid, he will lash out, reacting on his fears and attacking others without purpose. When the dog is afraid, he may be going into ‘survival mode’, leading him to believe he must attack to survive. Never push a dog that appears to be shivering with fear, and never force a timid dog to be outgoing. You should keep a watchful eye on the dog while avoiding direct eye contact, as this can be misunderstanding as a challenge or threat.
#9 – An overexcited dog is not always safe for playing games
While playing games with your dog, you may notice that your pet gets very excited and rambunctious. Just as a small child can get hurt when he is overly excited, your dog can also become injured, or get so excited that he injures someone else. Don’t allow your child and pet to engage in rough play such as chasing or running that might result in your child being overpowered by an excited pet. No matter how cute your dog is, he should never be left unsupervised while playing with a child.
#10 – Biting is an instincts among herding dog breeds.
For dogs breeds that are known as ‘herders’, you may find they have an instinct to also herd your children by nipping and biting at their heels. While this is a sign of a highly intelligent herd dog, it can also be problematic. The ability to herd is inborn and they do not want to bite children, but this can easily happen.
Most dog bites that occur can easily be avoided if you give the dog some respect and the proper amount of space and privacy. It is important to understand that any dog has the potential to bite, and you must exercise caution, remembering your pet is an animal. This will help you understand the most common reasons your dog will bite.