One of the most important things to understand when it comes to dog bites is why your dog bites in the first place.
Why Dogs Bite
Depending upon the circumstances, all dogs have the ability to bite. Although most people regard dog bites as an act of aggression (which it surely can be), biting is a normal and natural means of communication and defense in dogs. Aggression in dogs can be caused by stress that comes from a variety of sources. Some dogs have high bite-thresholds. Meaning that it takes a lot to make them bite. Pain, fear, anxiety, etc. should be considered at things that may trigger a dog to bite. A dog whose nature is normally timid may bite out of fear if they feel an invasion of space.
Oftentimes dogs see humans or other dogs as trying to take possession of their space (or toys, etc.). It is not uncommon for a dog bite to resolve any feelings of anxiety a dog may be having. For instance, a dog may seem agitated right before and during a bite, but afterwards they may seem fine.
If humans understand more about dogs, they will realize that it is a behavioral issue that can easily be turned around.
Here are some tips on how to handle dog bites.
What NOT to Do If a Dog Bites
Many people react to a dog bite by getting physical by severely punishing the dog into submission. A dog that is about to attack will usually give you a warning growl or snarl before attacking. A lot of people think that getting in the middle of an attack is the best thing to do. Unfortunately, it can also provoke the dog even more.
If a dog growls or snarls at you frequently, you need to take notice of the things that trigger their response. They are trying to communicate with you by telling you the things that stress them out. If you do not take action, chances are that the dog will eventually bite.
What to Do if Your Dog Bites Someone
There are action steps you can take if your dog bites someone. Here are a few:
Managing their Behavior
While managing the dog’s behavior can be difficult, it is not impossible. Managing the behavior of your animal does not mean punishing. It means that you restrict their access to other humans outside of the family. If strangers make your dog uncomfortable or trigger anxiety, it is best to keep your dog away from them for the time being. Unless you are going through behavior modification training with your animal, it is best to keep them away while company is present. Crate the dog, but make it a comfortable place for them.
Choosing this option may mean that you will have to forgo walking in the park, on or off a leash; no more car rides; and no more time being spent outside on the beach or hiking.
This is not the best option for everyone.
Comprehensive Behavior Modification
If aggressive behavior is fairly new and mild, you may be able to get the help of an experienced behaviorist. Though this is a costly alternative, it is well worth it. The behaviorist will help to identify your dog’s stressors. They will then set up a program the uses desensitization and counter-conditioning methods to convince your animal that “bad” stressors are “good.” If the behavior specialist is able to change your dog’s perception, their normal stressors will no longer trigger him, therefore they won’t be pushed over the bite threshold.
Just remember that it doesn’t happen overnight. The longer your dog has practiced aggressive behavior, the longer it will take to modify.
Re-Home the Dog
Though it is very difficult to let go of our pets, sometimes you have to in order to keep people safe. If you do not have the time nor the means to properly retrain your dog, it may be a good idea to re-home your dog with someone who can take care of them. Most rescue groups will not accept dogs with a history of biting, and shelters will euthanize them.
If you re-home your dog on your own, make sure it is with someone who can handle taking care of the animal. What is their background with animals?
If you have been injured or know someone who has been injured due to a dog bite, contact our office today. Consultations are free.