Why do dogs tend to bite?

by Akshay Mirchandani

Every day, millions of people are bitten by dogs in our country. Children are the most common victims of dog bites due to their small size and also because they are not aware of how one should act around a dog. Most dog bites occur when we interact with familiar dogs, thus, there is a need to educate people and their children on how to avoid dog bites. It is important to understand that any dog has the capacity to bite and that once we understand the common reasons why dogs bite, it is possible to prevent them. Here are a few reasons why dogs bite:

  1. Dog’s possessiveness over its “property”

A dog’s possessiveness can cause dog bites since the protection of a dog’s property is a common issue and “property” in this case can be anything from toys, food, territory or even a human being. Guard dogs and herding breeds tend to be the most common and the worst offenders but this behaviour can start in any dog. Therefore, start training your puppy early to minimize this kind of possessive behaviour. Teaching your puppy the “Leave it” command works well in preventing toy aggression. Food aggression can be avoided by teaching your dog to wait while you put their food in their bowl. Approach their food bowl and occasionally add treats to the food so they understand that someone approaching the bowl is not a bad thing and that they do not have to get aggressive at such times. Ensure that you teach children not to bother dogs that are eating or enjoying a treat such as a bone.

  1. Dog’s fear

A dog’s fear is usually directed towards strangers such as veterinarians or in unfamiliar situations. You should never approach an unfamiliar dog and also teach your children to do the same. Fear bites can occur when a dog is startled at home, hence, teach children never to sneak up on a dog or bother a dog when he is sleeping. Early socialization is important so that a young puppy is exposed to many different people, animals and situations minimizing the risk of any kind of phobia developing. For example, make your first visit to the vet a simple social visit to get a feel for the clinic and meet the veterinary staff so that your dog doesn’t get scared and aggressive.

  1. Dog pain

Pain can cause even the friendliest dog to bite. If your dog has any chronic injury, instruct your children to stay away from the sore areas and be gentle handling the dog to avoid dog bites. If your dog becomes snappy for no reason, you should consider pain as a possible cause and schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for a check-up.

  1. A dog’s maternal instincts

Even the most well trained dog can become a biter when she has puppies. Be aware of and respect the maternal instinct around a dog that has had puppies recently. Teach children not to approach a young puppy around the mother and use caution yourself when handling her puppies. Make sure the mother and puppies have a place where they can feel safe to avoid any kind of aggression.

Knowing the common triggers that cause dog bites and knowing your dog well will empower you to avoid any sort of stressful situations. Dog bites are always preceded by aggressive behaviour that a perceptive observer can use as a warning and then take steps to reduce the dog’s stress or fear. So, identify a trigger and you will be able to avoid dog bites at all costs. For any further queries, contact us right away!