May 15th is the start of Dog Bite Prevention Week. Dog bites are unfortunately not uncommon but they can be prevented with some common sense and learned understanding of canine behavior.
Dogs are becoming more and more like family, but they are not furry people. It is our responsibility to learn their language so we can interact safely and happily. Dogs are all very different and individual, one may love affection and touch, while others require space and respect. They all share a common language and we can learn what they prefer by observing them.
The signs to look for in a dog that is not comfortable with the interaction include:
Turning head away from you
Licking lips or extending tongue out slightly
Showing half moon shaped whites of eyes
Wagging tail stiffly
Licking your face repeatedly when embraced
If a dog holds its head still and tense, but follows you with its eyes, this is a warning that the dog is very very uncomfortable and may bite if pushed further.
Signs that a dog is enjoying the interaction include:
Leaning into you
Panting and wagging tail in relaxed way
Asking for more when you stop
There are also common triggers of aggression, so interactions should be done carefully when these circumstances exist:
The dog is in pain or ill
Someone is wearing unusual clothing like large hats, costumes, uniforms
In crowded and unfamiliar places
When there are fireworks, loud noises, wind, and thunder
The dog has food, toys, or a litter of puppies
The dog is behind a fence, in a car, cage or carrier
Avoid petting unfamiliar dogs on the top of their heads and instead try the shoulders or chest
One of the best ways to avoid having a shy or fearful dog is by socialization, especially at an early age. Puppy kindergarten and obedience classes are availabel Animal Hospital Inc throughout the year. Please call for details!
It is also extremely important to have your dog’s rabies vaccine current, it is Ohio law and important to protect your pet and people from this fatal virus.