Why Dogs Bite. Over one million people are bitten by dogs each year. This figure probably represents only half the number of actual bites because the rest go unreported. Half of children under the age of 12 have already been bitten by dogs. Any breed of dog has the potential to bite, although some breeds tend to be more aggressive than others because they were bred specifically for the aggressive trait. These dogs are often used to guard, protect, and herd, and thus may be more prone to bite.
WHY DOGS BITE
A lot of things can lead to a dog bite. Sudden movements, such as a child riding a bicycle past a dog, may trigger the dog’s hunting instincts causing him to bite. The strong bond dogs form with owners can cause them to become overly protective. Dogs have attacked children in play if one tackles the dog’s owner and the dog perceives it as a threat. Other dogs become territorial of their yard or house. On walks, a dog may be friendly, but once at home, some become aggressive to the people who were previously tolerated. Some dogs tolerate very little before they become aggressive.
Experts think that some dogs do not regard small children the same way they regard adults. Instead they look at them as prey, this is called Predatory aggression. Immediate professional help is necessary in these cases. Intervention involves teaching these dogs their position at the bottom of the family social ladder. Children are encouraged to take part in the dog’s training and discipline to help enforce their authority over the dog.
FACT: Muzzling aggressive dogs and restricting their activities are good short-term measures to keep other people and pets safe. A muzzle is not a suitable long-term solution.
Dr. Carol’s Tip: For aggression problems between family dogs, avoid situations that trigger competition. For example, separate the dogs before giving treats. House the dogs separately or muzzle one if both must be together. If the fighting occurs in the owner’s presence, keep one or both dogs on a leash.
WHAT YOU AND YOUR VET CAN DO
- Bites that break the skin should be reported to health authorities, especially if they were caused by a dog that is not your own, the bite is serious, involves the head or neck, the bite was unprovoked or the dog’s behavior was abnormal. Rabies is a potentially fatal consequence and specific protocols will be available from your local health department.
- If you are bitten by your dog or someone else’s dog call your physician. For superficial wounds, run water over the area for ten to fifteen minutes and clean them with a mild soap. Wounds that are deep, swollen, painful or oozing often require further treatment including antibiotics.
- Work with your veterinarian and/or Behavioral Specialist to figure out what caused the dog to bite and confirm the diagnosis.
- Once a behavioral diagnosis is established, a list of stimuli that may trigger your dog’s aggression will be developed. Management will involve avoiding situations that might provoke your dog in the future.
- For owners of dogs with Dominance aggression, management will involve:
- Not confronting the dog.
- Stopping all physical reprimands.
- Not trying to take anything away from the dog such as food or a toy.
- If the inciting stimuli cannot be accurately predicted, a muzzle may be temporarily necessary when the dog is with family members.
- Male dogs are generally more aggressive than females. Neutering a male dog or using hormone therapy may alleviate or suppress aggressive tendencies.
- Your dog should be willing to please you and consistently respond appropriately to commands.
- Physical punishment used to correct inappropriate behavior can become dangerous for the dog and the owner and is not recommended.
- Always seek professional advice when you are concerned about your dog’s behavior.
COMPLEMENTARY TREATMENTS: HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES
The use of Hepar sulphuris calcareum, 30c at an early stage, will not only relieve the pain, but can also prevent the wound becoming infected. Another remedy which can be used as an alternative is Arnica Montana 30c, which is given four times daily.