Biting is a fundamental part of being a dog. Dogs use their mouths in a completely different way to us – to explore the world, to carry things, to identify objects by their taste and smell. This means that even our gentle, beloved pet dogs have the potential to bite – even if it is not in a vicious, aggressive attack.
Dogs can bite in play, when taking food and of course when threatened. It’s certainly not nice (and can sometimes be dangerous or painful) to be bitten by a dog – so is it possible to avoid bites?
Whilst it’s not possible to completely eliminate the possibility of being bitten by a dog – whether it’s your own dog or somebody else’s – there are some signs you can look out for and precautions you can take.
Observe body language:
Just like humans, dogs have a few tell-tale physical signs they display when they are angry or agitated. They may look tense and have a straight, stiff tail – a furrowed brow and an intense, unfaltering stare are also signs you may need to back away.
Recognise bite triggers:
Dogs bite for a variety of different reasons. From the obvious (like fear, pain and possessiveness) to the lesser-known (such as maternal protectiveness and the instinct to chase prey), it’s good to know these triggers so that you can be aware of them and the potential risk they carry. It’s advisable to be observant of the environment around you and aware of your surroundings at all times so that you can identify any potential issues before they arise.
Take responsibility as an owner:
Having your dog neutered or spayed can reduce some of the behavioural triggers of biting – so it’s a good idea to speak to your vet about this if you aren’t considering breeding your dog. Take care to socialise your dog with other animals and people and get them used to different types of contact. Additionally, making sure your dog has plenty of exercise and play can reduce the risk of bites as it helps them to expend energy (which might otherwise be pent up nervous or negative energy) and bond with you. If you’re struggling to find the time to exercise your dog, give me a call. As a North London dog walker, I have vast experience in tiring those dogs with boundless energy!
If you are unfortunate enough to come into contact with an aggressive dog and believe they are about to attack or bite you, try and give the dog space by putting distance between you. Avoid eye contact and slowly back away – never turn and run like a dog will think you are playing. As a result, he will chase you and try to catch you.