Last week, I started a write-up on the tips that could help us to avoid being victims of dog bites. This week, I will be concluding by shedding more light on how to prevent dog bites, coupled with the signs a dog will display before launching an attack. However, before I go on, I want you to realise that even if you do not own or keep dogs, you still need to be well informed so as to be able to keep yourself from danger when similar situation arises.
Remember, from our analysis last week, we discovered that in all the dog-bite cases we profiled, the individuals were bitten by strange dogs. I believe that most dog bites can be prevented if parents and children are aware of the subtle communication signs that dogs send.
In fact, dog behaviour experts will tell you that there is always a warning; it is just that most people do not know how to interpret a dog’s body language. Often, when a dog is about to become aggressive, his body language is a dead giveaway. Some of the most common indicators that a dog might bite are as follow:
Growling and snapping: These are probably the most obvious signs that a dog is about to bite. They do this to let you know they are unhappy or uncomfortable. If a dog growls or snaps at you when you approach him, it’s time to give it some space.
Wagging of the tail: Pay attention to the way your dog wags his tail because this may be a sign of an impending bite. A happy dog may wag his tail and get his whole body involved; however, a dog who is about to bite is usually fairly rigid, and his tail will be pointed high and move more quickly back and forth. Dog trainers often hear dog owners say that their dog was wagging his tail right up until the moment he bit someone.
Raised fur: When dogs are afraid or overly stimulated, you may see the fur on their backs stand up. In some dogs, just the fur on the back of the neck between the shoulders stands up, while other dogs may have the fur raised at the neck and also near their tails. However, one classical sign is a ridge of fur that stands up down the entire length of their backs. If you notice a dog has his fur raised, it’s a signal that he wants you to back off.
Rigid body posture: A comfortable, happy dog usually has a relaxed body, with his ears low and a happy, wagging tail. An aggressive dog is just the opposite. His entire body may go stiff, and his ears and tail are raised high. If you reach out to pet a dog and his entire body freezes rather than wiggling to get closer, he is not happy with being touched. It’s time to move away to make him more comfortable.
Lip licking, yawning and avoiding gaze: Dogs engage in these behaviours to let you know they are uncomfortable with something going on around them. If you notice a dog is licking his lips (when food is not involved), yawning repeatedly, or turning his head to avoid meeting your gaze, it is trying to tell you something. Also, cowering and tail tucking are more overt signs than lip licking or yawning that you are dealing with a fearful dog.
Fearful dogs don’t always bite; fear does increase the likelihood. If you encounter a dog that cowers away from you with his tail tucked between his legs, back off. Let him approach you in his own time, and he’ll be less likely to feel the need to bite to defend itself.
You need to be aware of all these signals vis-a-vis your own body language. Keep your hands low to not threaten the dog. Speak calmly and softly and do not make direct eye contact. If the dog manages to bite you, try not to panic. Never yank yourself away from a dog’s mouth, because if you do, this will cause the dog to bite down harder and cause tearing. In addition, hitting the dog and trying to physically harm it will cause him to get angrier and will do more harm than good. The best thing to do is to try to stick something in the dog’s mouth. This will work as a gag for the dog, and he will let go. The dog’s mouth can be dirty, and infection is possible.
If you have been bitten by or exposed to an animal without a history of vaccination, or with signs of rabies, immediately, wash the affected area with soap, rinse with plenty water, then seek immediate medical attention.
In conclusion, I strongly advise that parents should communicate the information in this material to their children because they are more vulnerable to dog attacks due to the fact that they are smaller in size, and frequently project excited or fearful energy when interacting with dogs. Excited energy may cause a dog to become overly hyper, and accidentally hurt the child while trying to initiate play.
Have a splendid weekend.