Reprinted with permission from: Doggone Safe!TM A non-profit organization dedicated to dog bite prevention. Check out their excellent information at doggonesafe.com
Know the Signs
Preventing Dog Bites to Children
Dog behavior is complex and the signals that dogs send are often subtle. And it’s not only others’ dogs that parents need to worry about.
Many dog bites could be prevented if parents and children were aware of the subtle communication signs that dogs send when they are anxious. An anxious dog is much more likely to bite than is a happy dog. There is a big difference between a dog that is tolerating interactions with children and a dog that is actually enjoying these interactions.
One of the most common things we hear from adult bite victims and the parents of child victims is “I wish I’d known…”. We don’t want you ever to have to say that. We want you to know. So check the signs described above.
Many dogs are exceptionally tolerant of mishandling by both kids and adults. They show signs of anxiety, yet never get to the point of biting. Other dogs tolerate things they don’t enjoy for a period of time, or from certain people and not others, but at some point they have just had enough and they growl or snap. Most people are shocked when this happens. “He has never bitten anyone before” or “there was no warning”, they say. Dog behavior experts will tell you that there is always a warning, it is is just that most people do not know how to interpret dog body language.
It may not be an attack or even an incidence of serious aggression. It could be a nice family dog, pushed past her limit of tolerance in that moment. It is analogous to a parent losing her cool and shouting “stop that right now!” to a child who has been pestering her or a sibling incessantly. It could be a dog that no-one thought would ever bite. Even a single bite can cause terrible damage to a child’s tender skin resulting in many painful plastic surgeries and lasting emotional problems. The dog will likely lose his life or end up in a shelter over such a moment of intolerance. These results could be the culmination of our “not knowing”. Please don’t let that happen.
Reprinted with permission from: Doggone Safe!TM A non-profit organization dedicated to dog bite prevention. Contact them at [email protected]