Why do Dogs Bite?
According to veterinarian Dr. Sofia Yin the main reason dogs bite is because owners don’t always have a good understanding of dog body language. Often owners don’t know when their dog is signalling aggressive behaviours. Consequently, owners reinforce the biting behaviour without realizing it.
For more about biting behaviour check out Dr. Yin’s short video: http://drsophiayin.com/videos/entry/why_dogs_bite1
How do you Know if a Dog is going to Bite?
The simple answer is body language. As a pet owner the best thing you can do is get to know your dog. Here are some questions to consider about your dog’s behaviour:
1. Is my dog possessive?
2. Is my dog fearful, nervous, or suspicious of others/strangers?
3. Does my dog have a high prey drive?
4. Is my dog a mother? Dogs with puppies become very protective
5. Is my dog sick, injured, or in pain?
(The above questions are based common reasons dogs bite as suggested by Dr. Kristy Conn)
If the answer is yes to any of these questions it’s important to learn how your dog shows these behaviours – what’s Rover’s body language telling you about his state of mind?
For a quick review of dog body language you can check out this short video from the Humane Society: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/avoid_dog_bites.html
Preventing Dog Bites
Dr. Conn states that the first step in preventing dog bites is recognizing that all dogs have the capacity to bite in the right situation. Knowing this, owners must learn to read their dog’s body language and behaviour. It’s probably not much of a surprise but more than half of reported dog bite victims are kids. Kids are playful, can be aggressive, and don’t understand body language. These conditions can lead Rover to nip, and possibly bite.
Dr. Yin states that it’s important to teach kids how to react if a dog starts nipping. Instead of running away from the dog or screaming, (behaviours that can cause the dog to become more aggressive), Dr. Yin suggests that kids stand still and not engage the dog. Here are some tips for preventing dog bites suggested by Cesar’s Way:
• Don’t play aggressive games
• Train submissive behaviours
• Get your dog spayed or neutered
• Vaccinate your dog – prevents behavioural changes due to illness
• Do not leave your dog unsupervised around babies or kids
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Want to check out the articles that informed this blog? Click the below links:
• Doctor Yin’s video about biting behaviour: http://drsophiayin.com/videos/entry/why_dogs_bite1
• The Humane Society’s video and article about dog body language: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/avoid_dog_bites.html
• Dr. Conn’s blog about preventing dog bites: http://www.cesarsway.com/dog-behavior/biting/Dog-Bites-101-Why-Bites-Happen
• Cesar’s Way blog about avoiding dog bites: http://www.cesarsway.com/dog-behavior/biting/How-you-can-prevent-dog-bites
Tail wagging isn’t always a good thing