BEHAVIOR & TRAINING

What to Do When Your Dog Bites You: Helpful Proper Procedures from A to Z

Dog wants to bite human
John Walton
Written by John Walton

One of the scariest situations some can find themselves in is when they are attacked by their dog, or any dog for that matter. You may have one of many reactions, which is why explaining what to do when your dog bites you is a very important subject for those who have dogs in their home.

Safety is especially important when owning a dog or coming in contact with a dog out in the world.

Stay Smart and Stay Safe

The best thing to do when you get a dog is to properly train it to know commands and how to act with humans. Using home training is helpful, but so are dog training classes that allow your dog to interact with other humans and dogs. Here, they can learn how to behave, and you can pick up tips from other dog owners or the teacher, if you are a first time dog owner.

Puppy bites

Human and animal socialization is key when training your dog to be obedient, as his comfort level keeps aggression to a minimum. Some dogs can see a behavior specialist. Also, never approach strange dogs as they may become aggressive or fearful and attack because they do not know you, or see you as a threat.

The most important thing to do in an attack is to remain calm and try to remember one thing: getting the dog to release the limb. We all know some dogs will nip at you, some may quickly bite you, but occasionally a dog will attack and keep its grip in place. At first you may be in shock because your dog has bitten you but remember to stay calm and try to be quiet. Any noise or discipline may escalate the situation.

Reasons Dogs Bite

Why do dogs bite? There are a few top reasons that you will see below.

Reasons Dogs Bite- aggressive dog

Besides being safe and learning as much as you can about dogs, and getting them training, things can happen and you and any children in the home need to be aware of these reasons.

  1. If you are afraid of your dog, even a little bit, the dog can sense it. They know, as they can pick up on your emotions and body language. This goes for strangers as well. If a dog senses fear, it can bite because it got scared too, or because it is not as adjusted to humans yet as it could be. Your dog may also not have had enough socialization, which is key for training as it exposes your dog to sounds, people, and other animals.
  2. Is your dog sick? Is it in pain? A dog can bite you if they are in incredible pain. You or your child may have touched a sore spot on the dog’s body and it bit you because that causes pain for them. Chronic injuries like hip dysplasia or arthritis can inhibit this behavior as they are lasting conditions that causes pain.
  3. Your dog might not be good at sharing. When your dog has a bit of possessiveness within him, he will bite because he thinks his property is at stake. It does not matter what property it is, as it could be toys, food, his dog bed, or his favorite spot in the house. Teaching commands can be helpful for food aggression or training it to leave its toys. Be sure children know to never touch a dog that is eating as it may snap.
  4. Is your dog excited by the thrill of the hunt? His genetic makeup could be responsible for him running after a moving object and catching it. Imagine someone on a bicycle riding down the street. If your dog sees it, it may break loose and chase it down and attack by biting. The best advice about being chased by a dog is to stop moving and never make eye contact with it. They will hopefully only smell you and move along to something else.
  5. If your dog has recently had puppies, their instinct to protect their puppies may cause them to bite. The best thing to do here is to be sure the mother and pups have a warm, safe place to rest and be calm when approaching the mother and pups. Take everything slowly so the mother will gain trust of you handling her babies.

Prevention

Prevention comes in several forms besides your basic home training and local obedience courses. Using a behavior specialist can be helpful. But knowledge is key and recognizing the signs and learning prevention skills can keep your dog from biting.

Some triggers of a dog that may be getting ready to attack include their ears pinned back, fur standing up, growling, and intense staring are just a few. Showing their teeth is another sign. In this case, be sure children are not around and look for a way to diffuse the situation.

Dog obedience courses

Avoiding aggressive behavior and play with your dog will reduce the risk of bites. Also, be sure to exercise and play with your dog regularly.

Having them spayed or neutered reduces aggressiveness, as well as training and learning commands and bonding with their human. Most importantly, always keep your dog’s shots up to date.

Getting The Dog To Release The Limb

During a dog bite attack, it can be natural to want to pull the dog away from you but remember that doing so can result in more damage to the skin. Stay calm and try to pry the mouth open if possible. If the dog will not release, have someone else (if possible) lift the dogs legs up in the air to disorient them.

If this is not possible, use something nearby to try to get the dog to release its bite. If you have mace, this can be used as well, if you can reach it, although it may hurt your wound more if its exposed.

Dog showing teeths

Another way to get a dog to release its bite is to try and pinch the dog’s snout shut and that will make the dog open its mouth to breathe. When the dog releases, pull back as fast as you can and get to safety. Another method many people swear by is sticking your finger in the dog’s anal cavity. The pain and shock from doing so is enough to make the dog release his grip.

Treatment

Once you have gotten to safety, assess the damage to your limb. If its bleeding a lot and the bite is deep, seek medical attention immediately as a vein could have broken. Some bites may involve stitches to the affected area. If the bite does not require medical attention, you can usually clean it with soap and water and keep an eye on it.

Dog bite Treatment

In many cases, dog bites require medical attention and sometimes police and the courts get involved.

Involving Authorities

When a dog bite is very serious, the police can be called to file a report about the attack. In this case, the courts may get involved and decisions will be made about the dog. When authorities get involved, sometimes the dog will have to be euthanized, which can be terribly sad but if the dog is out of control this is the only possible choice.

The court may also order the dog to be given up by the owner and re-homed. Therapy may be an option for the dog, as well as training, with a behavioral specialist for dogs. Depending on the case, many things can happen, but if the attach was vicious you have to take measures.

Healing Yourself

After an attack, you may feel vulnerable around dogs, and if that lasts too long, therapy could be sought in order to help. Being social around dogs will help heal you as well.

Do not feel bad about the outcome of any court case involving the dog, as you probably had no control over what happened.

Healing Yourself

The main thing is to not feel scared of dogs or guilty over what happened during the bite attack. Do not let this hold you back from owning other dogs in the future, unless noted by the court. There are thousands of dogs that need love in shelters. Take this time to learn as much as you can about being a great owner and staying a vigilant leader.

In essence, being a vigilant and loving owner who has given great training and socialization to their dogs will see a reduced risk of bites in the home. However, dog bites can be severely dangerous and should be checked out by a physician.

Owning a dog is a big responsibility as you are responsible for its behavior and lifestyle. Doing all that you can to ensure your dog is calm, happy and loved will leave less room for aggressiveness.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Janis Schley

    I can’t imagine that feeling when your dog bites you! Maybe I would’t be that trustful with a rescue or adopted dog, due to the fact that it is a grown dog. Still I just have to reject the fact that my dog would ever hurt me, under any circumstances :(

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