Around this time last year, Grace was bitten by a dog. It was a very small bite, barely a scratch on her leg, but the emotional wound will last a long time. Even now, she cringes and cries if a dog approaches.
Even if it's a dog she knows.
It breaks my heart.
Because May reminds me of that dog bite, I wanted to share some tips from dog trainer, Robert Cabral, known for his Black Belt Dog Training approach.
10 Tips to Prevent Dog Bites
- Do not approach strange dogs, whether on leash or off. Don't feel the urge to greet every dog you see. If you do see a dog you want to pet, ask the owner before getting anywhere near the dog. Owners typically know whether their dogs will be friendly or not, and they want to avoid a bad situation as much as you do.
- Teach children not to run directly at dogs to try and meet them. Children should be taught not to approach strange dogs without the owner's permission and never to run, play wildly, or scream in front of loose dogs.
- When meeting a dog, ask the owner if the dog is friendly before engaging them or petting them.
- Do not stare directly into the eye of a dog. Dogs often see this as a threat.
- Always allow a dog to see you and sniff you before you pet them. Keep your interaction with the dog short and positive. Don't start a play session with a strange dog.
- Never leave children unattended with dogs, no matter how well you think you know the dog. According to dogbitelaw.com, a new dog in the house is dangerous for the first 60 days. In 2007 and 2008, 20% of fatal dog attacks involved a new person or dog sharing a household for a period of two months or less.
- Dogs are not stuffed animals: do not cuddle them, climb on top of them or kiss them if you don't know them, and think twice about doing it even if you do know them.
- If a dog is approaching you, do not run away. It may sound counterintuitive, but running away triggers a dog's prey drive. Dogs are more likely to bite someone who is running away from them than someone standing still. The best posture to assume is to stand erect with your arms folded. Turn slightly sideways to the dog and do not look directly at the dog. Even if the dog is jumping and barking at you, remain still. Most dogs will lose interest in an object that is not moving.
Incidentally, this is how Grace got bit. She was running towards the house, and the dog came up from behind and grabbed her leg.
- If a dog knocks you down, roll into a ball and remain as motionless as possible. Cover your head with your arms. Do not scream or roll around; dogs may bite in playfulness.
- If a dog is eating or playing with something, do not approach him to play with him or to take the object away from him.
“Dog bites are statistically increasing. Peoples' reluctance to train their dogs or give them structure also contributes to the increase in bites,” says Cabral. “If you own a dog, enroll him in obedience classes; socialize him at an early age with people and other dogs.”