Dog Bite Prevention Week 2019

Dog Bite Prevention Week is April 7-14 this year. 

  • As a reminder, it is important to be aware of how not to approach a dog and to recognize the signs of fear and anxiety in dogs. Take the time to recognize the warning signs to help avoid being bitten.
  • Ordinarily, people cannot tell when dogs are fearful.
  • While many might recognize the obvious signs of fear such as cowering, with the head low, ears back and tail between the legs, they may miss the signs if the dog is only cowering a little.

  • Also there are more subtle signs of fear that are also important to recognize.
  • Dogs who are anxious or afraid may lick their lips when there is no food nearby, pant when they are not hot or thirsty, their ears may be pinned back or out to the side while their brows are furrowed.

  • When scared or anxious, dogs may also move in slow motion the way you might tip toe if you were walking past sleeping lions.  They may also yawn or act sleepy in situations where they shouldn’t be tired.
  • For example, in new environments, most dogs will explore or interact with people and the environment.
  • If a dog goes somewhere new such as to a veterinary hospital and acts much more sedate than normal, that calm demeanor is probably an indicator of fear.
  • Dogs can also be hyper-vigilant when scared, meaning they look around in many directions the way you would if you were walking in the dark in a dangerous neighborhood.

  • When fearful, dogs can also suddenly lose their appetite.
  • But then an instant later when they feel more relaxed they may suddenly be willing to eat treats.
  • Anxious or fearful dogs may also move or look away from the object that scares them even if they do so fleetingly.
  • And, they may pace aimlessly instead of walking with direction or lying down calmly.

  • As you can see, these body language signs of fear in dogs are pretty straightforward.
  • When you see a dog exhibiting these signs as people approach, the responsibility of the owner is to keep the potential greeter a safe distance away and to also train their dog to feel more comfortable. This is not always done, of course.
  • For the human who is approaching, the first rule is to ask the owner first, and then “ask the dog.”
  • That means, turn slightly sideways so you’re not facing the dog squarely or staring at him.
  • Then let him approach at his own rate.
  • If he shows any combination of signs of fear or anxiety, avoid reaching out to pet him.

View the video below for more tips.

How to Approach a Dog Correctly