Biting situations are not very well recognized by most people and they are totally surprised when they happen, our aim is to teach you how to avoid dog bites. Not many people realize that the dogs involved in biting situations tend to be family pets and not strays or other people’s dogs. More than two-thirds of dog bites happen to people who knew the dog. More than half the dog bites occur to the very young and the very old and almost half of all bites to children are on areas of the face. Almost half of the claims made against homeowner’s insurance policies are due to dog bites.
The Dog Bite Just Came Out Of The Blue
Very often dog owners can be heard to claim that the bite they received came from a dog and it “came out of the blue”. They say that the dog showed no signs that a bite was about to happen. That is simply not the case. The only times when dogs bite without any rhyme, reason, or warning is if they have some sort of organic brain dysfunction from bad genetics, head trauma, or they suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Dogs are constantly communicating how they feel through postures, facial gestures, and through vocalizations. Sadly, it is the human’s inability to understand the language and communications of the dog that invite dog bites to happen.
Dog bites are rarely unprovoked but provocation from the dog’s perspective is often radically different from the human’s perspective. When a human suggests that a dog bite was “unprovoked”, it usually suggests that from the human perspective the bite seen as “unjustified”. From a dog’s perspective, if he did not feel provoked, then there would have been no need to issue a bite.
One of the most dangerous commonly practiced triggers to a dog bite is the physical displays of emotion to hug and kiss the dog. While this may be an understood and welcomed act between humans, as interpreted by dogs, especially aggressive dogs, the intent is not usually understood as a loving act and will likely be perceived as a threatening gesture. These well meaning actions can very easily result in an offensive dog bite to a child or an adult. It is never recommended that you place your face near a newly re-homed dog.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
All dogs, however tolerant or laid back they may seem have the potential to bite. Biting has nothing to do with a dog being mean or revengeful. Dogs are merely using the tools available to them respond to a situation.
All dogs have a limit to their patience and tolerance. Any dog can be provoked to bite so do not fall into complacency with a dog that has never bitten before. Just because it never bit anyone before does not mean that it cannot happen. Dog bites happen as a reaction to a trigger. Learn what your dog’s triggers are.
Reasons A Dog Bite Occurs
- Dog bites happen because a dog was frightened or startled by something in its environment.
- Dog bites happen because a dog was protecting or guarding an item that he understood “belonged “ to him such as food, toys, or sleeping areas.
- Dog bites happen because a dog does not feel well or is in chronic pain.
- Dog bites happen when humans use aversive training techniques or physical punishment on them .
- Dog bites happen because a stranger approaches an unsocialized or fearful dog.
- Dog bites happen because dogs have never been taught proper bite inhibition by their owners.
Dog Bite Prevention: The Top Ten Scenarios To Avoid
We love to pet dogs and most dogs love to be petted. But there also are times when we shouldn’t pet a dog.
Here’s a list of when you should avoid petting a dog, whether the dog is yours or someone else’s:
- If the dog is not with its owner.
- If the dog is with its owner but the owner does not give permission to pet the dog.
- If the dog is on the other side of a fence, don’t reach through or over a fence to pet the dog.
- If a dog is sleeping or eating.
- If a dog is sick or injured.
- If a dog is resting with her puppies or seems very protective of her puppies and anxious about your presence.
- If a dog is playing with a toy.
- If the dog is a service dog. Service dogs are working animals and shouldn’t be distracted while they are doing their jobs.
- If the dog is growling or barking.
- If the dog appears to be hiding or seeking time alone in its special place.
Learn To Read Body Language
Dogs cannot speak to us in words but they still express themselves with body language and vocalizations, they talk doggish.
Unfortunately not all humans can speak doggish and not all dogs can communicate effectively either. Some dogs are missing key social skills due to either not being socialized properly or being taken away from their litter too early. Just like humans, dogs body language is more complex than a single behaviour, just because a dog is wagging it’s tail, doesn’t mean it’s excited. Just as a person smiling, may not be feeling happy on the inside.
I’ve mentioned this several times in other articles, but it’s essential not to judge a dog based on its breed or size. Judge the dog that’s standing in front of you.
If a dog wants your attention, it will make it clear by greeting you with a dance and a wagging tail. If the dog doesn’t want your attention, it will most likely not make eye contact and walk straight past you. Always let the dog initiate contact, allow him to sniff you and your hand before petting him. Pet him on the side of the face, not the top of his head as this will scare some dogs. Always ask the owner before leaning forward and stroking the dog.
Children and Dogs
According to the Center for Disease Control, nearly 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year and half of those bitten are children. One in 5 dog bites (about 885,000) require medical attention. Additionally, statistics show that about the third of these bites are delivered by the family dog. When children do receive a bite from a dog, because of the children’s small size and close proximity to the dog’s mouth, children most often receive bites to the face and neck area.
It’s important for families with dogs and children to educate both the child and the dog. Unfortunately many parents deem it ok for a child to climb all over a dog, hit it, chase it and pull its tail, but if the dog is to so much as curl its lip or growl, it’s up for rehoming. Even the best natured dogs have their limits, but no dog should ever be pushed to their limits. Children should be raised to respect all animals.
Living safely and peacefully with the dogs requires that parents not only supervise all interactions between children and dogs, but also that they instruct children about how to treat animals with respect. The experience of living with a family dog should not be traumatic for children nor should living with children be a traumatic experience for the dog.
Careful supervision and monitoring must take place when you bring home a puppy or a newly re-homed dog into the home, especially if the dog’s history is unknown or if the dog comes from a background where he has been mistreated or has had little to no training. It is unwise and unsafe to leave young children and dogs together unsupervised. Keep dogs and children separated unless close and direct supervision can be given. Do not assume that the dog will be fine with your children.
Some Rules To Keep Children Safe From Dog Bites
- Never try to take a toy out of a dog’s mouth. Call an adult for help.
- Children should never be allowed to play rough or physical games with dogs.
- Children should be taught never to run past dogs. Many dogs have a high prey drive and high pitched squeals and the sudden movement may cause dog to attack the “moving prey”.
- Children should not encourage dogs to jump up or at them. Dogs must be taught not to jump on humans.
- Young children and dogs should not be allowed to sleep in the bed together. If a child rolls over or startles the sleeping dog, the child could get bitten.
- Dogs should not be allowed in the vicinity of young children or babies when they are eating. The scent of food may trigger the food drive of the dog and the child could get bitten.
- Teach your children about respecting animals’ right to space and safety. Children should be made aware of what constitutes teasing or cruelty and it should never be tolerated.
- Lastly, never leave children and dogs together unsupervised. If you must step away, safely contain the dog until you can once again directly supervise the interactions.
What To Do If You Are Being Chased Or Challenged By A Dog
While it may seem like a strange concept, more often than not, aggressive dogs are actually scared. Dogs behaviours, just like humans, have an intention or a purpose. When the dog barks and chases, it is likely going to scare the source of fear away, which reinforces to the dog that this behaviour works.
Bear in mind though, that not all dogs who chase are aggressive, many dogs will chase to play. Especially if this is a game the owner plays with their dog.
Why Breed-Specific Legislation Is Not The Answer To Preventing Dog Bites
These days you can find just as many stories in the media about Husky and Malamute attacks as you do Pit Bull attacks. Even though it is not in their nature to be aggressive, bad ownership through neglect or ignorance, is causing all Snow Dogs (and their owners) to be painted with the same brush.
In the USA many landlords will not rent to people if they have a Husky or Mal. Also, many insurance carriers are refusing to provide house and property insurance to owners of this breed. This is all happening because far too many people do not take the time to train their Snow Dogs. If you are not part of the solution, then you become part of the problem. Do not allow your Snow Dog to become an ill mannered out of control menace to society. Please be a responsible owner and train your dog.
Some people are pushing to see Huskies and Malamutes be placed on BSL lists. This will not stop dog bites and attacks from happening. The answer to this problem does not lie with banning these dogs. The answer is to provide education to owners and requiring them to step up to the plate to train their Snow Dogs.
It’s all too common for people to use breed stereotypes to determine whether a dog is a risk to themselves or their children, but this can have fatal consequences. Any dog can bite, regardless of the breed and size. Before leaning forward and stroking a dog, be sure to ask the owner if it’s ok to do so, this is general good manners. You wouldn’t walk up to somebodies child and start stroking its face.
This completes our series on Aggression and Bites in Huskies.
As always, we welcome your questions, comments and stories regarding this issue. When we tell our stories we may well be helping someone who is struggling with their dog.
Helping ALL Snow Dogs … one owner at a time.