News & Thoughts > Pet secrets for humans > 4 Ways to Prevent a Serious Dog Bite Injury

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10/27/2016 06:06:21 AM by JennifferPickard   Send Message to JennifferPickard  572  views, category: Pet secrets for humans view all blogs

What if we told you that in about 90% of dog bite cases, the injury was a result of a serious miscommunication between a dog and a stranger? Understanding the visual and aural cues that a dog is sending when he or she is stressed, angry or fearful is easy when you've owned a dog or two in the past. In fact, if it is your own dog, you are probably pretty good at reading the signs, and knowing when you should back off (or tell other people to give your dog some space). Dog owners themselves can also be bitten, if they choose to ignore body language and cues, or boundaries with their canine companion.

Situational Hot Spots That Increase Your Risk of a Dog Bite

Does your dog chase and growl at the mailman? As comical as the classic scenario may seem, its not as funny to the mailman. In fact, in an 2015 article in for The Smithsonian, it was reported that in 2015, 5,767 postal workers were bitten by dogs, a figure which had increased slightly from 2014, where another 5,581 postal workers sustained dog bite injuries. The problem is so significant, that postal workers in Los Angeles were required to take self-defense courses, to learn how to protect themselves against territorial dogs on patrol.

But it's not only your neighborhood postman who is getting bitten. In 2015, there were approximately 4.4 million dog bite incidents in the United States alone. Dog bite injuries can occur in different locations and circumstances, but some of the most common locations are:

♦ the family home (with or without owner's present)
♦ inside or beside vehicles
♦ at public parks and outdoor spaces
♦ on public transit (trains, planes and buses)
♦ at a relative or friend's home
♦ during a veterinary examination or procedure
♦ at the groomers

When you consider the high-risk locations from a dog's perspective, it becomes easier to understand some of the emotional and psychological factors that can contribute to an act of aggression. First, that your dog by nature is committed to protecting you. The interjection of a stranger that your dog does not know (or like) places your pet on-guard and ready to defend you. It's their job, and they take it a little too seriously sometimes, but then again, how comfortable are you with total strangers?

Territorial aggression at the family home is easy to understand. And when your dog accompanies you to a stranger's home, not only is your pet in unfamiliar territory and fearful, he feels even more compelled to protect his "special person" in the environment. According to experts at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, "your friends or guests may be comfortable with your dog, but that doesn't mean the feeling is mutual."

Dog bites are just as likely to happen at a friend's house, as they are in your own home, depending on the disposition of your pet. You matter deeply to your dog, and no matter where you are or who you are with, you can anticipate his first motivation will be to protect you, and himself.

Methods that Help Prevent Dog Bite Injuries

In most states nationwide, the owner is responsible for the damage and costs associated with a personal injury that results from a dog bite from your family pet. Depending on the severity of the bite, the civil liability can easily run into thousands of dollars. Some states also have a "one strike" rule, which means that a dog who has bitten a human being (or in some cases, attacked other animals) may be subject to being euthanized by law.

Preventing dog bite injuries from occurring protects your pet, and your family from financial and legal consequences, and helps to make public spaces safer for everyone. Here are five thoughtful and diligent ways that pet owners can reduce the risk.

1. Engage in Obedience Training

If you think that obedience training is for your dog; guess again. By taking at least two series or grade levels of obedience training, new dog owners can learn how to successfully lead their dog, and encourage positive social behaviors. Obedience training is about making you the alpha leader in your dog pack, which increases safety.

2. Build Confidence and Experience

Thinking of taking your dog to a local festival, when he or she has never been in a crowded environment full of strange people, sights and sounds? While its admirable that you want to spend as much time as possible with your four-legged friend, it is a miscalculated risk to place an inexperienced dog within a crowd.

Does that mean you will never be able to take Fido to a fall festival? No. But you will need to work up to it by exposing your pet slowly to crowded and noisy situations. Over time, as long as the small experiences are positive, your dog will gain the confidence to be in a crowd and may even enjoy it.

3. Bring Treats

If your pet is focused on aggression in a specific situation, you may be able to derail that negative emotion with a treat. Clicker training and rewards are also an effective psychological method of "changing the tune" when your dog is hyper-focused on a stressful experience, or an individual. Food for (happy) thought.

4. Maintain Control

When you are having a good time, it can be tempting to want to let your pet off leash, but it is one of the most hazardous things you can do to endanger your pet. Keeping your pet leashed doesn't only control your dog, but it allows you to control how other people interact with your dog. You have the right to say "no" when people attempt to swarm your pet in public, even if you appear to offend people who simply want to pet your dog. You are protecting your dog, yourself and the bystander from injury and legal liability.

Most pet experts agree that public circumstances and unfamiliar environments are triggers for dog aggression, and that a muzzle is generally a good idea in big crowds. Your vet and groomer may also thank you). Remember that training, intuitive listening and thoughtful consideration to your pet can help prevent dog bite injuries.

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