How do you avoid an aggressive encounter with a dog, and how do you respond when you find yourself in danger of being bitten ? First understand what provokes a perfectly harmless dog into biting.
Children have the ability to behave exactly as if they WANT the dog to bite them which is why they get bitten. Teach your children how to approach dogs (and do the same yourself!).
First of all, children should be taught NOT to approach strange dogs at all. If the owner of the dog is there, have your child stand still and let the dog approach the child. NEVER approach and touch a dog that doesn’t approach and touch you FIRST. If the dog approaches and is not afraid, the child can extend a fist for the dog to sniff (extended, grabby little fingers frighten dogs). The child should be instructed not to pat the dog on the top of the head as most dogs hate this. Children reach out and then pull back when the dog moves to inspect the hand. This is the fastest way to encourage a dog to nip at hands. Always get the child to scratch the dog under the chin. Don’t rush up to strange dogs, gleefully presuming they will all be ecstatic to be fondled by you. Many absolutely will not be. Do not allow children to do this.
Children often use short quick motions, and accompany actions with yells or shouts. They often tentatively reach out, pet the dog, then quickly jerk their hand back. How is your dog going to interpret that action? He might interpret that hand reaching towards him as a danger sign or a threat. and may lunge or bite that hand as it approaches it’s face. If the child’s face is quite close to your dog’s then that is where the child will be bitten. The most common spot a child is bitten by a dog, is on the child’s face.
The best approach when introducing yourself to a new dog is a sideways one. A sideways stance is less threatening to a dog. Avoid direct eye contact. Look away, or look at the floor and pretend to be disinterested in the dog. This conveys a “calming signal” to the dog.
Children tend to put their face very close to a dog and often their face is the same height as the dogs mouth. No animal should have to put up with strangers of any size, grabbing, groping, pulling their tails and ears, and hitting or poking them, yet this goes on and people expect that the animal will be some sort of saint in fur in return. It’s common to see kids run up and shriek and throw their arms around other people’s leashed dogs or even bark in their faces, or poke at their eyes. When treated like this many good, well-behaved dogs will at least snap at a child. Dogs who are not used to children will snap more readily than a dog who is accustomed to the higher voices, jerkier movements, and smaller size of a child. Do not underestimate the perceived threat a child can be to a dog. Many of the children who put themselves at the worst risk are the ones who have a big, loving, tolerant dog at home. In most cases, dog bites are a matter of a quick snap or single bite, meant by the dog to control the painful or frightening behaviour of the child. They are not attacks, but an attack can be stimulated if the child screams, runs, or attempts to fight the dog.
8 The best approach when introducing yourself to a new dog is a sideways one. A sideways stance is less threatening to a dog. Avoid direct eye contact. Look away, or look at the floor and pretend to be disinterested in the dog. This conveys a “calming signal” to the dog. It portrays a picture of a being who is not going to try to chase him, grab him or hurt him. If you look calm, the dog will be calm. Other calming signals include approaching by walking in an arc (the way friendly dogs greet each other), sitting or squatting, licking or smacking your lips, yawning, and sniffing. Basically you are almost completely ignoring the dog. This sets him at ease. You’re telling him, “You don’t have to worry about defending yourself from me, because I mean you no harm.”
8 What do you do if you find yourself suddenly confronted by a dog who thinks he is protecting his turf, or for some other reason wants to intimidate or bite you? The first instinct you may have is to run. That is the WORST possible behaviour you could engage in. NEVER, EVER RUN from a dog. Dogs bite because they don’t want you near them, or an area they may be “protecting.” Be it fear, or whatever reason, the dog wants to put distance between himself and you. If a fearful dog can not distance himself by running away, he will try to distance you by putting on an aggressive display to intimidate you. How you react can mean the difference of whether you get bitten or not. Do not use intimidation like stamping your feet or waving your arms to drive him away. This only confirms his suspicion that you are going to harm him. First choice defense would be to activate the calming signals, while slowly backing off, sideways. Don’t scream. Avoid eye contact. He may want to sniff you and that’s ok. Keep your hands at your sides, stand quietly, arms at sides, looking slightly away from the dog. Usually after he sniffs you, he’ll walk away. Don’t talk to the dog or run away. If you run, the dog’s first reaction will be to chase you whether he’s a friendly dog or not. Once you’ve stopped moving, most dogs will walk away.
8 If you’re an adult, and you are faced with an all-out attack from an unfriendly dog, and nothing worked, what do you do? Stand up straight (and sideways), and in your best, most authoritative yell, blast the word “NO!!!!!” from your very bowels, just as the dog gets within striking distance. This may take the dog off guard, as most dogs have been admonished with this word before. If a dog attacks, you may be able to decrease injury by “feeding” him your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything else that can serve as a barrier between you and the dog.