Dog bites are, almost, always preventable and the dog will always give you warning time. We have a few tips for you and your children to avoid receiving an accidental dog bite
Always ask first, never assume a dog is friendly. Just because you have a dog at home and it acts a certain way with you, does not mean that every dog will act the same way. Pay attention to what the owner has to say before you begin an interaction with the animal, they may have some tips to make it a successful encounter.
For example, don’t hover your hand over their head. This causes most dogs to be suspicious, they’ll want to keep an eye on your hand, and could cause fright or excitement. A little scratch under the chin is our recommended approach for interacting with an unfamiliar animal. But, don’t force it. Let them sniff your fist first, if they seem uninterested in you, let them move on. Just like people, they’re not always in the mood to interact, either.
Keep your movements slow, fast movements will cause excitement. Slower movements will help prevent them from getting too worked up. (This is a technique that can be used for a new dog in your own home, as well). Most dogs are born to chase in one form or another, whether it’s herding sheep or hunting down prey. If it’s running, it’s often the dog’s job to go get it. Try not to have younger children running around the same area as a young or untrained dog. Keep play time separate, if you can.
Don’t linger, the longer you hover around the dog and make a big deal, the more likely you are to excite them. They might think you’re there to play and start jumping at you, they might become anxious about why you’re there so long, or they might be eager to continue on with their day. Set the dog up for a short, confident, and successful encounter so that your next one can be longer.
Additionally, you’ll want to try not to crowd them. Dogs tend to feel threatened if you bend overtop of them or get right into their faces. Dogs have personal bubbles the same way we do, if you wouldn’t do that to a person you don’t know, you definitely shouldn’t be doing it to a dog you don’t know.
Listen to the owner, double check or clarify something if you’re not sure. No one knows a dog as well as its owner. Don’t ignore what they have to say! Remember, every bite comes with a warning. The owner will very likely see it coming before you do, however, you should always pay attention to the animal as well, not every owner will be as proactive.
Watch for signs that the dog is uncomfortable with the interaction. Their muscles might suddenly go stiff, they might start giving you a long upward glance, or side-eye, where you can see a lot of their eyeballs, if the dog doesn’t want your attention.
Even though a dog is not a person, they still deserve the same level of respect as you would give your fellow man.