How to Avoid Dog Bites: Tips on Prevention and Precautions

Dog bites dog bite prevention

We encounter strange dogs daily while walking dogs around Miami, so we have a tip or two to prevent dog bites. It’s important to know that every dog can and will bite under certain circumstances. Sometimes the pet is in pain; sometimes they are possessive of toys… You can be prepared and prevent dog bites by following what we write about in this post. We hope it helps!

Responsible pet ownership and education are the keys to preventing dog bites. The first step is choosing the right dog for your home. Second, and just as important: the way you raise your dog, the way it lives, has as much to do with its personality and behavior as its breed (some would argue it’s all about nurture!). If your only wish is to adopt a Malinois, for example, make sure you are ready to give it the exercise and mental stimulation it requires. Some dogs really do NEED exercise; if you prefer to spend your nights on the couch (and we’re not judging- because sometimes, that sounds fabulous!), an active dog is simply not for you.

Other ways to avoid dog bites include:

  • Socialize your dog at an early age so they’re comfortable around people and other animals. Puppies should be touched and held often to get them used to human contact.
  • Teach your children that not every dog is friendly or open to approach and that they should ask permission before petting a strange dog.
  • Don’t put your dog in a position where it feels threatened or teased; especially don’t take a leashed dog into a leash-free dog park!
  • Train your dog! They need to know what is expected of them. The training is fun for the dogs, who need to work, and it will build a beautiful bond between you.
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise: do it regularly to maintain great health and mental stimulation
  • No Wrestling! Avoid highly excitable games like tug-of-war or wrestling, which put your dogs in the position of potentially biting.
  • Always use a leash in public.
  • Neuter or spay your dog.
  • Never, ever tie your dog up in your backyard. This creates intense frustration and pent-up aggression. Tragedies can occur when this poor dog finally breaks loose. Aside from that, tethering your dog is illegal in Miami-Dade County unless you comply with a lengthy list of criteria.
  • If you keep your dog in a fenced-in yard, secure the gates and fences.

This list is just a cursory overview to get you started. We will be covering what to do with an aggressive dog in a later post, as well as specific behaviors you can look out for in pets that may warn you before a bite occurs.

In the meantime, some great reading material includes “Dogs: A New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior, and Evolution,” by Raymond and Lorna Coppinger, as well as “How to Speak Dog” by Stanley Coren.

We hope this information helps! Have you ever been bitten by a dog or avoided being bitten by using some of these precautions? Let us know in the comments, below!

Your Dog Would Never Bite Your Child or Your Pet Sitter, Right?

dog walker's best friend
 

Our pet sitters know a lot about dogs, cats, and the myriad of endearing little animals we care for throughout Miami, but we constantly seek additional education in our field. Pet sitters Flavia Berti and Tom Wyss attended the Dog Bite Investigation Seminar sponsored by No Kill Nation, Inc. and the Miami Coalition Against Breed-Speicific Legislation on April 25, 2013.

 

They heard from expert Jim Crosby, a retired lieutenant and dog trainer who spoke to police about what they do and how they assess certain situations when there are dogs involved in crime scenes, in dog bites, or alleged dog attacks and fatalities. Flavia and Tom took away two main messages from Mr. Crosby: every dog can and will bite if in pain or provoked, and the importance of education and responsible pet ownership in preventing dog bites.

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Positive Reinforcement Training with Rocco’s Pack

The Equipaws Pet Services pack had its first two training sessions with Lebby Gonzalez, owner of Rocco’s Pack Pet Services and positive reinforcement trainer in Miami, this week. We believe all dog owners and dogs can use a little leash walking refresher once in a while. And, dogs love the attention and interaction with their parents during training sessions!

Positive Reinforcement Training

We chose Lebby because she specializes in positive reinforcement training techniques. Positive reinforcement training produces wanted behaviors in your dogs with treats and life desires, and distracts from unwanted behavior in a non-punitive way. Rewarding good behavior will increase the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated. Lebby proved to us that this technique works in a matter of minutes, and has enriched the way we think about dog behavior. Read more about the science behind the positive reinforcement training philosophy  here.

The Challenge:

Boots, our Shih Tzu, is very vocal. He begins his daily demands at the top of his voice around 7:30 every morning, and will bark for attention whenever he’s thirsty, hungry, hears a whisper, or plain just feels like it. We like that he knows what he wants, but we know that we provide him with everything he needs and therefore doesn’t need to tell us constantly! Lebby helped us show Boots that quiet time in his crate was a happy thing. She got him to where he produced the behavior himself, beyond bribing him every time with a motion and a treat. He was walking in the crate willingly at a command in 10 minutes, and then just hanging out for peaceful 20 minute stretches. The most fascinating part of the training was that we could see Boots trying to figure out what he needed to do to get his treat. We love that he was creatively engaged, thinking, interested, and obviously very happy. As pet parents, that’s one of the best feelings.

Why positive reinforcement training?

Positive reinforcement training shows dogs how to be and feel a different way about the things we ask of them- a happier, more willing state of mind. Treats, playtime, and love are the motivators—and they work wonders. We’d rather have a loving, kind relationship with our dogs where they follow our commands because they want to instead of out of fear.

Positive reinforcement training requires investments in time and focus, and definitely requires patience. Loose leash walking, for example, is best done without a cell phone in hand- so hard, right? Ha! This investment is worth it, especially in emergency situations when you really need your dog to pay attention to you. As Lebby says, you don’t want your dog doubting whether coming to you is a good idea or not.

Lebby emphasized consistent guidance, full involvement, and constant communication during the training sessions. This includes body language and eye contact. Body language, movement, and eye contact are more important than verbal cues, especially on a walk with many distractions. This sounds like hard work, but it’s not. And you get to be completely involved in your dog’s life- which is kind of what having a dog is about!

We all can’t wait for our next training session, where we learn how to teach our stubborn mastiff the “come” command the right way. We’ll keep you posted!