Take Clarendon Street Vets’ safety quiz for preventing dog bites

April 14, 2022

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Dog bite prevention week is intended to bring the public’s attention to the risk of dog bites and to share preventative advice.

In this article, the team from Clarendon Street Vets share important tips and resources to help our clients and their families prevent dog bites.

Download our Dog Safety Quiz

13 tips for preventing dog bites

Most dog bites don’t come from dogs who are deemed ‘aggressive’ but occur in the home with family dogs or dogs who are well known. Pets who are described by their owners as placid and loving can nonetheless snap and bite if they feel agitated, threatened, frightened, vulnerable, or unwell.

As well as the obvious physical injury, a dog bite can cause complex psychological issues. If a dog bites a child (or lunges at them) a long-term fear of dogs can develop. Dogs too can learn that aggression is a good way to stop unwanted behaviours that may be directed at them, especially if milder warnings go unnoticed. This is a real shame as children and dogs can both benefit from a close bond with one another.

Therefore, it is advisable to practice these 13 do’s & don’ts of dog interactions:

  1. Do choose the right dog breed for your family and home setup – remember, all cute puppies grow into adult dogs with big teeth
  2. Do ensure your puppy’s (or older dog’s if you missed this stage) socialisation experience includes being around children
  3. Do train your pet from a puppy into adulthood on how to be well-mannered in the home and out & about
  4. Don’t use fear to train a dog as this is harmful and can lead to unwanted reactions in everyday situations
  5. Don’t assume your dog won’t bite just because they are generally good-natured.
  6. Don’t leave children alone with dogs
  7. Do teach children from a young age how to behave around dogs, including not playing aggressive games with them, pulling their ears or tail, or doing anything else that may agitate them
  8. Do act calm around dogs, especially if they are unfamiliar to you
  9. Do supervise children feeding or walking a dog
  10. Don’t let your child discipline a dog
  11. Don’t invade a dog’s space without their permission – let them come to you (& avoid letting young children hug & kiss dogs as this can be perceived as quite threatening to dogs who are not used to this.)
  12. Do teach children to always ask the owner’s permission to stroke their dog and where and how the dog likes to be stroked
  13. Don’t allow your child to approach a dog in someone else’s garden or car

Socialisation & training

Socialisation should be started as young as possible. Puppies can get used to new people in the home before they are fully vaccinated and then can be taken out and about to meet as many people as possible once vaccinations are complete. From around 8 – 16 weeks of age, a puppy’s brain is like a sponge, absorbing sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and experiences. During this time, puppies are likely to react to new stimuli with curiosity rather than fear. Older dogs can be socialised too, but this may take a little more time and patience.

Dog training is not just about obedience. It also helps build confidence and develop clear communication between you and your dog. If your dog understands your request and how to respond to it they are less likely to get fearful or frustrated, which are both common causes of dog bites. In addition, spending fun and structured time with your dog will help you pick up on the subtler aspects of their behaviour, so you are more likely to notice if something is not quite right.

We are always happy to give tips on socialisation and training, and to point you in the direction of good local classes.

Learn how to be safe around dogs

Why not take a few minutes to improve your knowledge?

Click the link to take our Dog Safety Quiz and check how much your family members currently know.

If there are gaps in your knowledge, you can read these Dogs Trust resources and get everyone to re-take our Quiz.

We hope you have found these tips helpful. If you have any concerns regarding your dog’s behaviour please do contact us. We can provide behavioural first aid advice and point you in the direction of further help.

Download our Dog Safety Quiz

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