The John DeBella Show

The John DeBella Show

The John DeBella Show

Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

National Dog Bite Prevention week is April 9-15. It helps to have tips to prevent dog bites, for both you and the dogs around you.

Puppies are cute, but they have their limits just like we do. We all have personal bubbles and things we are and aren’t okay with. No two dogs are the same. It’s easy to assume all dogs are cool with touch, but if they aren’t, they sometimes resort to biting. It’s nothing personal. They can’t use words, so it’s their way of telling you to back off.

The thing is, as humans, we don’t like to be bitten. If dogs break skin, it may mean all kinds of trouble for human health. It’s important to have a mutual understanding with the dogs in your life so neither of you cross the line that could lead to biting.

Many dog bites can be prevented if you know how to approach a dog properly. It’s also good to know when to leave a dog alone.

With National Dog Bite Prevention week coming up, Dr. Amber Karwacki of Heart + Paw shares 6 tips to prevent dog bites from happening. Dr. Karwacki’s clinical interests include surgery, behavior, and ophthalmology. Understanding dog behavior is crucial when trying to avoid problems with pups!

Here are Dr. Karwacki’s 6 tips to prevent dog bites:

  • Learn Body Language

    Dogs And Owners Gather For 2014 Crufts Dog Show

    Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images

    Dogs tell you how they are feeling through their body language. A dog that is happy will have ears that are facing forward as well as a relaxed stance. A dog that is panting, looking around frantically, and licking their lips is nervous.

    Dogs that are afraid will look down to avoid eye contact with a tucked tail, and they will try to make themselves smaller by curling up.

    Aggressive dogs will have their lips pulled back in a snarl and their ears pulled back. Their back fur may be ruffled up, and they will have a stiff stance. Knowing these body language tips will give you an idea if you can approach these dogs or if you should leave them alone.

  • Monitor Children

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    Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Children are not able to read a dog’s body language as well as adults can. They should be supervised around dogs.

    To a child, dogs showing their teeth may look like they’re smiling instead of a warning to stay away. Teaching a child dog manners such as asking to pet a dog, letting the dog approach them, and not grabbing at the dog will lessen the chance that a child will be injured by a dog bite.

  • Approach the Right Way

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    Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images

    When approaching a dog, always ask the owner if you can pet the dog. Not every dog you see wants to be approached, and their owner will know what their dog is okay with.

    Allow the dog to approach you while avoiding direct eye contact, being face to face, or looming over the dog.  

  • Be Careful Not to Scare

    Crufts Dog Show

    Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

    If you are working with scared or fearful dogs, be mindful that they may bite faster than average dogs. When a dog is scared, the fight or flight response kicks in. If you are blocking the dog from leaving the situation that is scaring them, a dog will resort to biting to try and get away.

    If you are approaching a dog that is showing signs of being scared, back away from the dog to give space. If your dogs are scared, take them away from the situation to allow them to calm down.

  • Respect Space

    Crufts Prepare For The Start Of Annual Competition

    Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    When you are visiting friends or family, respect their dog’s space. Leave their beds or crates alone as that is their spot to relax and be calm.

    The food and water bowls should not be played with in case the dog is possessive with their bowls. Don’t grab toys from a dog unless they bring it to you to play with them. 

  • Reward, Don’t Punish

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    Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

    Dogs should be taught basic commands like sit, down, and stay as well as not to jump and walk calmly on a leash.

    When training, use rewards to teach your dog what you would like them to do. This works better than punishing them for the wrong behavior as they will still not know what to do when punished.

    Respect, don’t correct a growl since that is a dog’s way of telling you that they are not comfortable.

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