<Bookmark>Why Might A Dog Bite?
Over-Excitement: Sometimes dogs get over-excited! If you are teasing a dog, or playing roughly, he may snap or bite. Teach children to always play gently, making sure that the dog is enjoying it.
Protection: Often, dogs are trying to protect something when they bite. Dogs feel very protective of their family, house and personal belongings. They often protect their families, yards and especially food!
Fear: Like many people, dogs sometimes get startled. Be careful not to approach them when they are asleep, or make a loud nose or quick gesture or even come up behind them without them knowing it.
Illness: Dogs may bite when they are sick or hurt. They do not know if we are trying to help them or hurt them. Teach children to always call an adult to examine a sick or injured dog, even if it is their own dog.
Possessiveness: Even friendly dogs may not want to share their own special things, including food, bones or even a favorite toy.
Accidents Happen: Many people are bitten by dogs when trying to break up a dog fight. NEVER try to separate two fighting dogs!
<Bookmark>Prevent Your Dog from Biting
There is no way to guarantee that your dog will never bite someone. However, you can reduce the risk:
- Spay or neuter your pet. Sterilization will not only reduce aggression but will also decrease a dog's tendency to roam. However, spaying/neutering won't reduce a dog's protectiveness.
- Train and socialize your pet. Set appropriate limits on acceptable behavior. Help your dog become a trustworthy member of your family and community.
- Teach your dog appropriate behavior. Don't play aggressive games with your dog such as wrestling, tug of war, or "siccing" your dog on another person. It's essential that your dog recognize you and all the members of your family -- including young children -- as dominant and not challenge your leadership.
- Be a responsible pet owner. License and vaccinate your dog. For everyone's safety, don't allow him/her to roam. Make your pet a member of your family. Dogs that spend too much time in the doghouse or tied in the backyard have a much greater chance of developing behavioral problems such as aggression. Dogs that are well socialized are much less likely to bite.
- Be cautious. Look for the warning signs. A dog may display aggressive signs before an attack such as barking, growling, disobeying commands or showing dominance. He/she should be removed from the situation immediately upon displaying any such behavior. If your dog is generally nervous around strangers, do not expose him/her to social situations until proper training can take place.
<Bookmark>How to Avoid Being Bitten
- Never approach a strange dog, particularly one that's confined or restrained.
- Don't pet a dog, even your own, without letting him/her see and sniff you first.
- Avoid running past a dog or turning your back on a dog and running away. A dog's natural instinct is to chase and catch fleeing prey.
- Don't disturb a dog that's sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
- Use caution with strange dogs. Always assume that a strange dog may see you as an intruder or a threat.
- More than 60 percent of bite victims are children. Teach your children to remain motionless when they are approached by a strange dog.
<Bookmark>What To Do If You Think a Dog May Attack
- Never scream and run. If you do, you'll probably trigger the dog's chase response and only increase your chances of being attacked. Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly until he/she is out of sight.
- If you allow a strange dog to sniff you, in most cases the dog will leave when he/she decides you aren't a threat.
- Avoid direct eye contact with the dog. Staring into a dog's eyes is perceived by the dog as an act of aggression and dominance and will only challenge the dog to attack.
<Bookmark>What to Do If a Dog Attacks
- Use any object you may have, such as a bicycle or book bag as a barrier between you and the dog.
- If you fall or are knocked down, curl into a ball with your face to the ground and put your hands, with fists closed, over your ears.
<Bookmark>What To Do If You Are Bitten
- Wash the wound and immediately call a doctor.
- Report the bite to the Health Department.
- If you are bitten by a stray dog or a dog owned by someone else, also report the bite to Lee County Domestic Animal Services. Tell as much as you can about the dog -- what the dog looks like, where you saw the dog, whether you've seen the dog before, and where the owner lives. It is important for Animal Services to locate the dog as quickly as possible.