2001-Fri Feb 24 17:12:16 MST 2017
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I’ve written a couple of articles about dog bites. In one, I wrote about what
to do in case your dog bites you. In another, "Why Good Dogs Bite Part I: You Didn’t Hear What He Was Saying," I
wrote about all the ways that we as well-meaning owners can misread signs that our
dogs may be feeling threatened or uncomfortable and how these situations can
lead to a bite.
In this article, I’ll take a look at some of the scenarios
where bites occur, because we as owners may unwittingly “get in the way.” I’ll
also try to give some tips on how you can avoid these situations. The purpose
of these articles is to prevent bites. If your dog is already exhibiting
aggressive behavior, such as lunging, snapping or biting, then you need to
obtain professional help right away. It is also always a good idea to consult
your veterinarian to rule out the possibility that an underlying physical
problem may be contributing to your dog’s behavior.
common “in the way” situation is when your dog becomes super excited by some
other activity that is occurring. When dogs are in a heightened state of
emotional arousal, such as when at play or being territorial, they sometimes may
lose their inhibitions and bite whoever is closest to them.
the bite occurs during play, it is labeled "play aggression." In this scenario, you
need to stop playing with your dog before he starts to nip or bite. Just like
children who become overly excitable and lose control during high-energy play,
sometimes you need to recognize that things are getting a little too crazy with
your dog, take a break mid-play and allow him to calm down.
situations where your dog is reacting toward another dog or person and cannot
reach that dog/person, he may direct his aggressive behavior toward the
closest warm body around — which may be you! In a normal, calm state, your dog
would not typically exhibit aggressive behavior toward you. However, in this
scenario, you are not the cause of your dog’s redirected aggression, but you
can become an unwitting target. In these kinds of cases, you as the owner must be
aware of the triggers for this aggressive behavior in your dog and avoid
exposing him to them. Here’s one example of how you can address this: I once had
a dog who ran along the fence barking at people and other dogs that walked
past the yard. When I approached him and tried to reach for his collar, he
would try to snap at me to keep me away from him. Except for when he was
exhibiting this territorial behavior, I could approach him any other time. This
is how I addressed the situation: When there was no one walking past the fence,
I worked on teaching my dog to come inside the house for a tasty treat or his
favorite toy. We practiced this until he immediately responded to my cues. It
did not stop my dog from barking at people walking past the fence — because
that was a totally different exercise — but I was able to get his attention and
redirect him to an alternative behavior before the situation escalated out of
an owner inserts himself in a situation in which two dogs are fighting, there is an increased risk of injury
to the person when he tries to reach in to grab a dog’s collar or anywhere on
the front half of the dog’s body. Avoid doing this. Safer ways to separate two fighting dogs are to employ a citronella deterrent spray or water from
a garden hose to break up the fight; throw a jacket or sweatshirt over the
dogs or toss a backpack between them if you can; or using a loud noise, such
as banging two pots together, to distract the dogs. Once the dogs are
distracted, maneuver your dog out of sight and away from the other dog.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
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