Posted by: | May 10, 2011

Dog Bites

In honor of Dog Bite Prevention Week May, 15th – 21st, it’s important to understand why dogs may bite and what signs to look for in order to prevent bites from happening.

4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year.  Of those 4.5 million, children are the most at risk.  Children are future pet owners and it’s important to not only teach them how to properly care for pets, but also to understand and how to behave in the company of pets.

Why might a dog bite occur?

The most common reason why dogs bite children is that the child may have startled or even hurt it by stepping on it, pulling or poking it.

– The child has done something to frighten or provoke the dog by either taking one of the dog’s possessions, moving into the dog’s space, hugging or touching the dog, etc.

– The dog may be old, grumpy, or aggravated and have no patience for the antics of a child.

– The dog may be injured or feeling ill.

– The dog may be protecting food, water dish, resting place, the owner’s property possessions, or other dogs.

– The dog is overly excited by rough play.

Dogs use their mouths for many of the same things we humans use our hands to do.  They might simply be letting you know that they don’t appreciate being touched or annoyed at the moment.


It’s important to recognize the signs your dog is giving before a bite occurs.

When a human has become annoyed, they have the option of leaving the room or actually communicating their feelings.  Dogs do not.  Some dogs may appear very tolerant of children poking and pulling on it.  But if the behavior isn’t corrected, a dog may very understandably reach it’s breaking point and bite as a warning.

Learn to look for the subtle signs:

– The dog may get up and move away from the child, or simply turn it’s head away.

– The dog may yawn when the child approaches, explaining that he/she is just not interested.

– The dog may lick it’s lips, scratch, bite or lick itself to show that he/she is occupied and uninterested.

– When the white part of the dog’s eyes is visible, it’s a good indication they have had enough.

Another sign is if the dog stands up and does an intense shake after he/she has been touched, saying “I did not appreciate that.  Please don’t touch me right now.”

The dog may simply look to you with a pleading expression, saying “Please help.  I just want to be left alone.”

You of all people have the best relationship with your dog.  He/she is your best friend and you should be able to know what they are feeling without having to read their body language.  However, it’s important to protect them and others who share their company as well.

You may assume that your dog likes to have children climbing on and hugging him/her.  But if you see any of the warning signs, it’s important to correct the situation before your dog has to.

Teach children that they should ONLY pet happy dogs, and to ALWAYS ask the owner for permission to pet the dog.

If we can work to prevent unnecessary bites from happening, we can all live together happily.

Tim Heise
– Certified Pet Care Specialist
Absolute Pet Care, LLC
Scottsdale, AZ


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