Why Do Dogs Bite?

There are different reasons a dog may bite. A bite is the only way for a dog to protect itself.

1. Dog behavior is completely different from that of humans, and miscommunication between dogs and humans causes many  problems. This is the most common reason children get bitten.
a. Walking straight towards a dog is considered rude or threatening to a dog.
b. Making eye contact, staring is a challenge and a threat to a dog.
c. Reaching over a dog’s head to pet them, is a show of dominance. This can be a threat to many dogs.

2. Irresponsible owners are a large factor in dog bites. Owners need to be held accountable when they act irresponsible.
a. Socializing dogs is critical to their development and reducing problems, including biting. Fearful and shy dogs can bite suddenly due to a loud noise.
b. Chained dogs or dogs left alone to live in the back yard become very territorial, protective, fearful and out of control. These dogs are then blamed when they bite a child playing in the backyard. If we don’t teach dogs how to play or meet new people, we can’t hold them accountable for their actions.
c. Obedience training, all dogs need to be trained in basic obedience, whether it is done by you or a professional.
d. Children should never be left unattended with any dog, no matter what kind of dog it is.

3. Mental or physical abuse, this is another reason children shouldn’t be left alone with dogs. Children can be relentless in tormenting dogs; poking at them through fences, throwing things at them, etc. (I have experienced this first hand).

4. Some dogs have food aggression, meaning if you come near their food, they will bite the hand that feeds them; literally.
a. Dogs can be taught not to have food aggression, starting as early as possible, by taking the food dish away while they are eating and then give it back. Must be repeated and consistent. If the dog is older and already has this condition, use a plastic hand or something to remove the food. Use your judgement and common sense please!!

5. Dogs may have a medical condition that cause them to lash out. Sometimes something, like a burr, is stuck in their paw causing pain.
a. Take your dog to your vet for a check-up.
b. Check your dog’s paw for any obstruction or injury.

The bottom line is owners need to be more responsible for their pets and parents need to teach their children not to run up to strange dogs. I can’t count the number of times kids run up to my dogs. Luckily, my Golden is OK with that, but my Shih Tzu can get ‘nippy’ when being touched around her face.  

Dogs do not just “turn” on owners or family members. There are red flags if you pay attention to your family pet!

Useful Links for Bite Prevention

The Safe Kids/Safe Dog Project
Why Dogs Bite

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2 thoughts on “Why Do Dogs Bite?

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