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6 Steps to Prevent Your Dog From Biting

One of the many things professionals in the pet service industry have to deal with on a fairly regular basis is dog bites. There are many types of aggression, and aggression can be directed toward people, other dogs, or animals. Before I talk about how to prevent a dog bite, I would like to share with you why dogs bite. Here are a few statistics about dog bites in the US since 1975. All of these statistics were found on the site of

  • There are an average of 4.7 million dog bite incidents per year. More than 1000 individuals per day require medical treatment. Most of the victims are children and the face is the most often bitten.
  • 77% of bites target the face, most frequent areas are the lips, nose, and cheeks.
  • In 2010 there were 34 fatalities. The breeds most likely to kill are the Pit Bull, Rottweiler, and Presa Canario and their mixes. In a 24 year period they were responsible for 65% of fatalities. The other 35% is a mix of 30 other breeds.
  • 5% of life threatening or fatal maulings were serial attacks. A serial attack is an instance of a dog injuring someone after having injured a person or animal on a previous occasion. 48% of those attacks were Pit Bulls, 17% by Rottweilers, and the other 35% was a mix of 10 other breeds.
  • 10% of life threatening or fatal maulings were rampage attacks. A rampage attack is an instance of a dog attacking multiple people or animals during a single incident. 58% of the rampage attacks were by Pit Bulls, 21% were by Rottweilers, and 21% were a mix of 14 other breeds.
  • 28% of the attacks were by chained dogs.
  • 87% were by male dogs, and 60% of those male doges were un-neutered.
  • 77% of attacks are by dogs owned by the victim, family member, or friend.
  • 61% of bites happen at home or in a familiar place.
  • 47% of bites to children under the age of 4 years old are by the family dog, and 90% of those bites happen in the home.
  • Other factors that contributed to increased aggression were pain, fear, poor health, inadequate training, lack of discipline, lack of socialization before 14 weeks, a puppy purchased at a pet store, and the first vet visit after 8 weeks.

So what do all these numbers tell us?? I know many of you are thinking that Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are dangerous dogs, and while these statistics show that, I can tell you from working with hundreds of dogs, that any dog can bite. It doesn't matter the breed. In fact, in October of 2000 a 6 week old infant was killed by the family pet Pomeranian. The Pomeranian is a toy breed dog that weighs approximately 4 pounds. The two were left sleeping in the same bed with each other. One thing is very consistent among all these numbers; HUMANS have the most influence on whether a dog is dangerous and bites. If owners and handlers were more responsible dog bites would be greatly reduced. So I hope you're asking..."What can I do to prevent my dog from biting?" It's all very simple really...

  1. Dogs are not lawn ornaments. They cannot thrive in an environment void of proper stimulation. They build great amounts of frustration that leads to many unwanted behaviors including aggression. I have yet to meet a dog that is well behaved when on a chain, tie out, or kennelled for all or most of the day.
  2. Are you going to breed your dog? If not, talk with your Veterinarian about the right time to have your dog neutered or spayed. Based on these statistics, you're dog is already at high risk of developing aggression, this could make a big difference.
  3. Talking about Veterinarians, make sure you get your dog in yearly. These exams can alert you to health issues with your dog that you may not be aware of. You dog can't walk up to you and say "I don't feel good." But your vet may be able to tell you that based on what they see at the yearly check-up.
  4. Just because you own a docile breed, doesn't mean the dog doesn't have the potential to bite. Your dog is an animal, and that's one of the many things animals do....they bite. Sure we can invest all kinds of money, time, effort, training, and buy all the products in the world...but every dog has their limit. They all have the potential to bite. When having friends and family over, make sure you're thinking about what's safe for your dog and the humans you let into your house. Remember the statistic above...more than 3/4 of dog bites are from "known" dogs. More than half of the bites occur at home, and almost half of the children under 4 are bitten by their own dog. The worst thing you can do for your dog is to take them for granted. Remember they are NOT our children, they are animals that we train to coexist with us.
  5. Socialize, socialize, socialize!! I really can't stress enough the importance of spending the time to properly socialize your dog. If you have a protective breed, without early socialization it is highly likely they will grow into an aggressive dog.
  6. Please for the love of your dog, invest the time in training. You don't have to go to classes, or even hire a private trainer, but you do need to teach your dog some basic manners. They will not learn it all on their own.

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