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Why Do Dogs Bite?

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Discussing The Many Reasons Why Dogs Bite, Signs To Look For, And How To Prevent Dog Bites In Honor Of National Dog Bite Prevention Week

Dogs are truly wonderful creatures. They are beautiful, loyal, and loving animals. However, dogs are still animals and they possess canine teeth (relatively long pointed teeth). Despite being domesticated, dogs are still capable of inflicting serious damage with their teeth. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that your dog is properly trained and obedient. 

Dog bites are so serious that the second full week of April is observed as National Dog Bite Prevention Week. This year (2024) this holiday will occur from April 14th to April 20th. In honor of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, this article will discuss why dogs bite, signs to look for, and how to prevent them. 

Why Dogs Bite

Dogs can bite people for multiple reasons. But, it’s important to remember that dog bites are reactionary. A dog will respond with a bite because they believe it is the best form of response for a given situation. Here are a few of the most common reasons why dogs react with a bite.

A fearful dog

A fearful dog

Fear

One of the most common reasons for a dog to respond with a bite is out of fear. This is true for most forms of aggressive behavior in dogs. When the thing that a dog is afraid of gets too close to them, they respond with a bite. Generally speaking, when a dog bites out of fear, they are trying to create distance from the person or thing they are fearful of.  

Guarding/Protecting

Another very common reason dogs bite is out of guarding or protecting. If your dog has something they value, like toys or food, they may not want to share. As a result, they can get very possessive about these items. If you or another dog tries to touch or grab these items, a protective dog may respond with a bite. 

Startled

Another reason why dogs may bite is if they are startled. If you wake a dog from their sleep, they may initially be disoriented or confused. As a result, they may feel threatened and respond with a bite. This is not aggressive behavior, but rather, reactionary behavior. 

Pain

Another common reason for dogs to bite is because of pain. If a dog is injured, recovering from surgery, or sick, they could respond with a bite when touched. Dogs feel pain, but they often don’t understand why they feel this way. As a result, they can often respond with a bite, simply out of confusion. Be careful when handling your dog when they are experiencing pain and avoid touching any sensitive areas. 

Frustration

In many cases, dogs can get overwhelmed easily. This feeling of being overwhelmed can lead to frustration, which often leads to the dog reacting with a bite. Additionally, dogs can experience frustration when they can’t reach something that they want (such as a toy or food). Be mindful about what your dog wants and be aware of how they may respond if they don’t get what they want. 

A playful dog

A playful dog

Playing

While more common in puppies, dogs can also bite when playing. This is not an aggressive behavior, but rather a playful behavior. Both puppies and dogs have been known to “play-fight.” This often includes scratching, pushing, and biting. However, rarely is skin broken in these instances. It’s usually just a nip where the dog doesn’t bite down at full force. 

Warning Signs Of Dog Bites

The best way to prevent a dog bite from happening is to know and recognize the warning signs beforehand. Remember that no dog, even fully domesticated ones, is ever completely safe. Every dog is capable of anything if provoked or threatened. 

Pay attention to the dog’s body language. Things to look for are fearfulness and/or aggression. This includes things like lip licking, panting, ears turned back, pacing, body tremors, barking, growling, whining, or avoidance. If you notice any of these behaviors, avoid interacting with the dog if possible. These are all signs that the dog may bite you if provoked. 

How To Prevent Dog Bites

Recognizing a risky situation with a dog is the best way to prevent a dog bite. If a dog is displaying any of the previously mentioned behaviors, do not approach them. Instead, disengage and move away slowly. Don’t make any sudden movements or loud noises. This may further provoke the dog. Move away slowly, confidently, and break eye contact with the dog.

How To Observe The Holiday

This April, we encourage you to get involved with this week-long, pet-themed holiday. The best way to observe National Dog Bite Prevention Week is to educate yourself on dog bite prevention. Don’t become another dog bite victim statistic. Know what warning signs to look for and protect yourself from these kinds of encounters. For more information on dog bite prevention, click here

Additionally, you can also observe National Dog Bite Prevention Week by spreading the word about it. Make a post about National Dog Bite Prevention Week on social media. This can help educate other people about the severity of dog bites and how to prevent them. Be sure to share this article too!

A professional dog walker & dog

A professional dog walker & dog

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Do you or someone you know need a pet sitter? Then look no further than ParaMount Pet Care! We are the leading pet care professionals in the Luzerne County area. All of our sitters are insured, bonded, trained in pet CPR & first aid, and dedicated to caring for your pets. 

We offer a wide variety of pet sitting services such as in-home pet sitting, routine dog walking, overnight stays, and more! Click here to see all of our services! Click here to become a client today or give us a call at 570-814-1037. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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