So, today I want to talk about dog bites and why when I person is bit by a dog it is really a terrible event. Now, I am going to admit that I have been bit by dogs, plenty of dogs, and I didn't realize the severity of damage that dogs bites inflict until only recently.
Now, I bet you're expecting some gruesome story about how a dog tore a chunk of flesh out of me, right? Sorry to disappoint, but I need to talk about the damage that a dog bite does to the dog. Not that I don't care about people, but I generally care about dogs more.
Dogs that bite inappropriately, is a topic that is near and dear to me because I have honestly ended up with most of my dogs because they have bit someone or another dog to the point that their people wanted nothing to do with them any more. Since I had to deal with my very first personal dog biting someone for no obvious reason, I've invested a tremendous amount of time, money, and effort trying to find out how I can help him and the rest of them get better.
My fear of course is that one day, god-forbid, my dog bites someone, and the next thing I know, Animal Control is taking my dog away to be put to sleep (PTS). I've cried just imagining this scenario. My dog's aggression is actually the reason I became a dog training, just trying to find answers as to how to help him, and thus coming to the conclusion the having been bit by dogs is not a cool thing.
I can't tell you how many trainers I've heard say things like, "I've been bit by plenty of dogs" or "I've been bit by bigger and meaner dogs than that" almost as if they were braggin about it. I've seen so many trainers disregard safety precautions allowing for situations where they could easily get bit. Or even one trainer tell me that they "need to see what the dog is capable of...".... what?! Really?!
Here is why getting bit by a dog is bad for THE DOG
Usually, before a dog bites, they generally give us probably about a dozen body languange signals that are telling us that they are really uncomfortable with whatever the situation is. Most of these signals are their best attempts to put space between them and whatever is making them uncomfortable. If you are making them uncomfortable, they may be backing away from you, or barking and lunging at you to say "stay away from me." Some other signals could include freezing, hard staring, lip curling, snarling, growling, showing teeth, or a furrowed brow... all of which just really mean, I want some space.
So, most instances when a dog bites are when a person ignores these signals, or simply doesn't understand how to read these signals to begin with and fails to give the dog space... Then all of a sudden... BAM! The dog bites!
Now, the first reaction after a dog bites you is generally to back up away from the dog, primarily to prevent getting bit again, and to go get some attention for any injuries you may have incurred.
So, what have we just taught the dog? Out of all of the signals that you gave us that you wanted space, biting is the only one that did the trick. Now, do you think that next time the dog is going to go through all of the warning signals before he bites again. Probably not. I mean why would he bother when he knows that biting will give him the space he wants.
Moral of the story, Dog Bites are bad of people, but worse for the dogs, in my opinion. Sometimes they happen, but most of the time, they are very preventable. If you have a dog that has bitten, or tried to bite someone, let us know, we can give you some advice. If you're a trainer who has been bit and want to some advice on how to prevent future bites, we would love to help with that as well.
Ultimately, the less dogs bite, the less they will bite in the future, and the less dogs will be PTS for biting people, and isn't that what we are all really here for?