DOG BITE FACT: In Clark County Nevada this quarter, there were 344 bite reports investigated by animal control. The outcome can range from physical and emotional injury, expensive citations, mandatory Rabies quarantine, expensive litigation for liability claims and mandatory euthanasia.

Our Dogs Perspective: Human-Animal Interactions

BUT THEY'RE SO CUTE AND FLUFFY!

Indeed, they are! But, we have to remember that they are dogs and we must treat them as such. Some dogs are more tolerant than others, and some may never develop any noticeable problem. But, it is becoming more and more often that dogs are desperately trying to communicate their dislike of certain interactions, and we are not paying attention.

If we treat them like dolls, toys, or baby humans, it can seem harmless and even cute! We dress them up, carry them and baby them and might even push them in a stroller. And mostly, they'll go along with it, because they want to be our companion.

As mentioned above, some dogs will never develop any obvious issues from this, while others may react in unhealthy or even dangerous ways.

They want to make us happy, they want to let us have our way. Our dogs give a tail wag and a big happy grin and we want to think they're enjoying playing dress-up, and they might be for that time! But, this can turn nasty if our pups feel unable to express themselves or escape from the situation when they're uncomfortable. After all, these are highly unnatural and can even seem scary to them.

Let's find ways to interact with our dogs, so we can allow them to be who they are, DOGS! Fetch, walks, tug of war, belly scratches, gentle petting, hiking, physical activities, some even like swimming. Leave the baby doll routine for baby dolls, let our pups be PUPS!

Dog Bites, aggression, and insecurity often originate from or are made worse by US! And sometimes we don't even realize it.

This is a great PSA about how we can be more mindful about the way we interact with our dogs, having more understanding of their needs and differences and pay more attention to their body language. This can help keep people and dogs safer and keep pets in their homes.

WHY GROWLING IS A GOOD THING

The more steps to warn us that a dog is willing to take BEFORE a bite occurs, the better. So, watch for body language cues like hunching down, snarling, lifting lips, and showing teeth with a scrunched nose, growling, hair standing up, or barking. This then leads to snapping, lunging, biting, and ultimately a full-on attack. The further it escalates, the more damage that is done.

The slower and more signs they show, the more time and opportunity we have to back away, remove children or animals or stop whatever interaction is occurring that is causing the dog to feel this way. We should NEVER challenge a dog, especially one who is in this state, as this essentially punishes them for communication before the bite. 

If we ignore them or proceed anyway, the next time, they may choose to skip the warnings and go straight to the bite, since they've learned that their natural communication will not be respected and that those warnings will be ignored, so they go straight to the effective approach. It can be very difficult to come back from this point.

This is why understanding our dogs for who they are and learning effective communication with them is required for peace and safety.

Bite Inhibition

This is the process that every dog should go through where they essentially learn about how their bite can affect others, cause injury, and how they can ultimately control the strength of and where they put their teeth. This is a very important skill for them to develop starting at a young age, between 7-8 weeks old.

Usually, this skill begins when pups are nursing on momma dog. They bite too hard, mom takes their milk away for a moment. 

They begin to learn this with their littermates, and then other dogs as they grow up. They bite too hard during play and either the dogs bite back or they get up and leave, ending the play session.

We want them to achieve this self-restraint skill by 4-5 months old, but the sooner and more frequent they practice the better!

Rule: No teeth on people EVER!!! Instead, offer a variety of many toys and chews available at all times all over the place!

We are NOT dogs, so we should not attempt to teach them dog skills. They need to learn how to be a dog from other dogs, from their peers. This is where dog-to-dog socialization is SO IMPORTANT from birth to 4 months old, that's the prime window! This way, they teach each other about these critical life skills. Plus, it gives us a break where the pup is using his teeth in all the right ways- gentle play with other dogs and on toys and chews.

Importance of Socialization

Proper and thorough socialization of our dogs from birth to 6 months old is vital for their overall behavior and well-being. Positive, intentional, careful, and frequent interactions between your pup and other dogs, as well as a variety of people and stimuli, will help your dog feel confident and calm in a variety of normal social settings.