Take the bite out of the dog

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Even though dogs are man’s best friend, they have been known to bite their owners, strangers and other dogs. In fact, every year more than 4 million people suffer a dog bite, with small children and the elderly among the most frequent targets.Today, Richard and Vicki Horowitz, from Bark Busters stopped by our studio with Toby, a one year old Alaskan Malamute, to talk about taking the bite out of the dog.

Below are some key points from the interview.

What can be done to prevent being bitten?

Dogs bite for a reason – in fact most do so out of fear and use their fight instinct only when they believe it to be their last resort. Other times they might bite as they misinterpret what is actually happening at that time. It’s important that you take the necessary measures to lessen the likelihood of a bite when approached by a dog.
Here are some tips to keep you safe:

* Don’t turn and run… the dog will think it is a game and chase you.
* Stand still with your hands by your side. Generally, this will lead the dog to turn away when he realizes you are not a threat.
* Don’t put your hand out – just allow the dog to approach you to sniff you.
* Don’t scream or get excited. Speak calmly.
* Back away slowly watching the dog from the corner of your eye until the dog is out of sight.
* Never stare at the dog or give direct eye contact.

If a dog snaps at or bites you, don’t overreact. Remain calm and still – assuming it’s not a serious bite. When the situation has diffused, calmly step back and try to determine WHY the dog bit – What were you doing at that moment? How did you approach the dog? What was the dog doing at the time? Was there a ‘resource’ of high value near the dog?

What do you do if you are bitten by a dog you don’t know?

If you are bitten by a dog, it is not a good idea to try to catch the dog on your own. Instead, if, possible, try to take a picture of the dog and then call animal control or 911 so the dog can be contained and tested for rabies.

What can parents do to protect their children?

Family members and/or friends are often bitten in their own homes. Children (particularly boys ages 5 – 9) are three times more likely than adults to be seriously bitten (mainly in the face or neck) because children are around the same height as a dog and they can crawl into small, low places where dogs can reach them. Tips for Parents:

* Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
* Never allow young children to discipline a dog.
* Never let your children play with a dog if he is eating or feeding his/her puppies.
* Never allow your child to walk a dog unsupervised. You never know what other dog may appear along the walk.
* Remind your child that a dog is not a horse; therefore, he should not be ridden or annoyed by pulling on his tail or collar.
* Never allow your child to approach an unfamiliar dog.
* Never allow your child to play aggressively with any dog.

What about those nippy puppies?

Understand that many puppies nip. Generally, they will do so as they are teething or as they are growing during rough play or to assert themselves. It is important that you spend time educating your puppy and teaching him acceptable levels of play without biting at you. You will need to work with your dog to eliminate budding aggression by establishing good canine leadership.

To deter your puppy from nipping, never use a physical reprimand. Doing so could give your dog more reason to think he should bite you. Instead, use good body language and an effective tone to communicate your dog’s mistake and as importantly guide your dog to acceptable items to use his teeth on, like a chew toy, and reinforce with high pitched, happy praise.

Dogs are wonderful companions and respond well to consistent training and leadership. By acting responsibly with dogs you not only reduce the number of dog bites but also enhance the relationship you can have with your canine companion

For more information go to BarkBusters.com

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