How to prevent dog bites

Dog Bite – how to prevent a dog from biting

When a dog bites a human or another dog or any other animal, it generally suggests that some fundamental needs that keep a dog in balance and harmony are been ignored and not addressed for a long time. A bite does not happen out of the blue. Humans generally seem to believe that it was totally unexpected and quite often quickly conclude that something is wrong with the dog. But most dogs give many signs before going for a bite. It is just that we humans are unaware of these signs and how to read them and act appropriately in a timely manner to avoid it. A bite is an ultimate form of communication from the dog that something essential and of vital importance is not being addressed appropriately.
Broadly speaking, there are two states of mind that lead a dog to go into aggression and hence a bite. A dog’s mind could simply be in a confident dominant state of mind or in a fearful state of mind. A dog does not get into a state of aggression overnight. It is a process that happens over time where we humans continuously and unknowingly keep encouraging the behavior in a dog.
The relationship between you and dogs stands on the two foundation pillars of mutual Trust and Respect. Most humans manage to get the Trust part of the equation very easily. Playing, cuddling, treats, tricks etc easily build up the Trust between you and your dog. But when it comes to “Respect, most of the humans fail to give enough attention and importance of this vital aspect of their relationship with their dog. This issue happens when we choose to ignore the basic nature of a dog which is it’s Pack Nature.
Dogs naturally live as a pack and there exists a notion of hierarchy in the pack. There always exists a leader in their pack and rest of the pack members take the role of the follower. When a dog comes and lives with humans, the human becomes his or her pack. But most of us simply do not know or give importance to this basic fundamental pack nature in a dog. In almost all cases, a dog bite happens when it gets into a dominant or leader state of mind. That is when it assumes the role of correcting the pack members to follow the rules of the pack. So in essence, the way to prevent a dog from biting is to keep the dog in a follower or submissive state of mind which means that the human has to understand and behave in a way the dog looks upon you as their leader of the pack.
A dog can also bite when they are in a fearful or anxious state of mind. This is very common for timid types of dogs. Such dogs attract a lot of humans who feel sorry for them and they reach out to them in a manner that freaks them out even more. The human thinks that they are helping them to become comfortable while the dog feels exactly the opposite. When the approach is too fast or too intense for the dog, it simply reacts which results in a nip or a bite. Such cases can be easily avoided by respecting the dog’s insecure state of mind and giving it time and space to feel comfortable with you before you approach them. Do not force yourself on them, give them time and they will slowly feel relaxed and come to you.
There are also a lot of bites that happen which involve children. The modern way of living and education of this present age does not encourage much the value of calmness to the new generation. Children tend to look at the dog as an object of play and most of them practice an over excited and hyper way of being around dogs. This, in turn, influences the dog to get over excited and in most cases, this over excitement leads eventually to dominance and then to aggression behavior.
Some of the basic rules to keep a dog in a submissive state and hence leading to prevention of bites are: – Practice the formula of – No Touch, No Talk, No Eye Contact whenever you reunite with the pack after a break. – Initially, maintain your personal space and only allow the dog to enter your personal space when he or she is in a calm-submissive state of mind. – Do not allow dogs to jump on you on their terms. – Avoid giving affection to any state of mind other than calm submission. – Manage the excitement levels during play time. Excitement is necessary for play but do not go overboard. – Discipline your dog but do not punish your dog. Outwardly, the act of correction in punishment and discipline would look the same but the fundamental difference lies in your internal state of mind when you are performing the act of correction. Discipline springs from a calm assertive space within you while punishment springs from anger, resentment, irritation, frustration, etc. Discipline helps the dog to go into calm submission and balance. Punishment results in either aggression or fear in the dog which eventually leads to a bite.
As the saying goes – Prevention is always better than cure. Prevent a bite ever happening by understanding, embracing and accepting the natural pack nature and the hierarchy that exists in dogs and work towards mastering the art of being a pack leader for your dog. A dog in a balanced follower state of mind will never bite and it never bites anyone in the presence of pack leader.

Rajiv Saini – Dog Behaviorist

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