There are many reasons why a dog would bite someone. It is not always because the dog is aggressive. Many people do not understand dogs and their behavior and this does contribute to some dog bites. Understanding dog behavior and knowing what causes them to bite can help protect you from being bitten.
One thing to remember if you are meeting a dog for the first time; whether it is a stray dog, a friend’s new dog, or just a dog you meet on a walk; you do not know the dog. Do not assume that it is friendly. Do not just go up to a dog and reach out to it. Instead calmly walk over to it, talk to it in a soft voice, and then if the dog seems to be okay with you, offer your hand to the dog for it to sniff.
Dogs feel fear. Many dogs will bite because they are afraid. If they are stressed out and do not understand what is going on, they are more likely to bite someone. In this situation if you go right at them and try to touch them, they may fear that you are going to hurt them and bite in order to protect themselves.
If you find a dog that seems to be in pain you need to make sure you are extra careful around the dog. A dog will bite because it is in pain. If you find a dog that was say hit by a car, if you try to move it without knowing the right way, you could hurt it even more causing the dog to get upset and bite. Many times when a dog is injured it is also stressed and afraid. This can tie in with the pain and cause the dog to be on edge even more than it otherwise would.
According to Dr. Kristy Conn who wrote an article about dog bites for Cesar Milan’s website www.cesarsway.com about four and a half million people are bitten by a dog every year in the United States alone. It seems as though one fifth of these bite victims are in need of medical attention due to the bite they received. There are even more reasons that dogs bite people.
If a dog is possessive over an item you need to be careful if you are trying to take that item away from them. For some dogs it is a toy or a bone, for others it is their food, and for yet others it is anything that they find. If a dog is being possessive they are much more likely to bite. Trying to take the item from the dog will just aggravate it to the point that the dog snaps at someone.
A mother dog that you are unfamiliar with can be incredibly dangerous, most people know that. What some people do not know is that even if you are familiar with the mother dog, if she feels that you are trying to threaten her or her pups she may bite in order to protect her children. This is a basic motherly instinct, so when you want to handle the puppies in front of the mother, make sure to pay some attention to her first so she understands that you are not there as a threat.
A dog that has a high prey drive may also bite at things that move quickly. Typically this is triggered by running or cycling past a dog. If it causes the dog to chase, when the dog catches up with the person it will most likely bite, as though it just caught the prey it had been chasing. If you know a dog has a high prey drive take precautions around that dog so that you do not trigger this behavior.
Statistics about dog bites can be misleading. The problem with following statistics is that not all dog bites are reported. Why is this? There are many reasons such as: the dog was small therefore the person who was bitten is embarrassed, it was a family member’s dog and you do not want to get them in trouble, it is a friend’s dog and you do not want to get them in trouble, or it was not a bad bite and you did not need medical attention therefore they did not report it, or the person bitten does not know where to report the bite.
Even the Center for Disease Control does not rely on statistics based on breeds. In fact they released a statement on their website about fatal dog bites. They said “A CDC study on fatal dog bites lists the breeds involved in fatal attacks over 20 years (Breed of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998). It does not identify specific breeds that are most likely to bite or kill, and thus is not appropriate for policy-making decisions related to the topic.”
Knowing these things can help anyone avoid being bitten. If you come across a dog that you think needs help, call a shelter or rescue group to come deal with the dog. They are trained on how to handle the situation without getting bit. In the end many dogs do not want to have to bite someone, they do it because they do not know what to do. Knowing what not to do can help keep you safe in the event you could be.