Why Dogs Bite - Reasons + Prevention

One of the most traumatizing accidents that can happen to anyone is being bitten by an animal. Dog bites can result in physical and emotional scars to the victim. For the dog, it can result in euthanasia, re-homing or abandonment.

Sara Forsberg · April 13, 2021

Why Dogs Bite - Reasons + Prevention

One of the most traumatizing accidents that can happen to anyone is being bitten by an animal. Dog bites can result in physical and emotional scars to the victim. For the dog, it can result in euthanasia, re-homing or abandonment. While most interactions with dogs don't result in injury, most of these bites could be prevented by practicing responsible pet ownership, teaching, especially children, to not approach unfamiliar dogs, reading the cues of a dog and what not to do around dogs.

My story

This is a topic I personally am concerned about and understand because when I was 3 ½ year old half my face was ripped off by a neighbor’s dog. I had plastic surgery and dermabrasions as a child to fix my scars and fortunately I did not have a whole lot of lasting physical scars and it did not deter or affect my love of dogs or cause me to be frightened by them.

Dog Bite Prevention Week

There are an estimated population of nearly 77 million dogs living in U.S. households, and approximately 4.5 million people, most of them children, are bitten by dogs every year. The majority of these bites, if not all, are preventable. Ways to prevent bites include: responsible pet ownership, education, and avoiding risky situations.

Why do dogs bite?

There are a variety of reasons a dog can bite, but it is usually a reaction to something. They can bite because they feel threatened, or in stressful situations the dog may bite to defend itself or its territory, or if they are startled or scared. They also may be trying to protect something that is valuable to them, such as their litter, their food or a toy. Dogs also might bite or nip during play. Even though play and nipping might be fun for the dog, it can be dangerous for especially kids. It's always suggested to avoid playing tug-of-war or wrestling with your dog. This can get your dog wound up, which may lead to a nip or a bite. They also might bite because they aren't feeling well due to being sore from an injury or sick and want to be left alone.

What can you do as a dog owner?

Your dog is your responsibility. Even if you think your dog is friendly, you should understand the risks of dog bites and ways to help prevent them.

  • Being a responsible pet owner by helping to reduce bite risks by carefully selecting a pup that is right for your family.
  • Obedience training- dogs that participate in training are less likely to bite and it’s always a good idea to have your pup successfully complete obedience training course(s).
  • Walk your dog regularly. This will keep your pet physically and mentally healthy and provide stimulation.
  • Spay or neuter. This procedure may help reduce your dog's aggressive behaviors.
  • Socialize early and often as you can. Introduce your puppy to situations and people as early as possible. This makes for a more relaxed adult dog. But watch for signs of stress during socialization, as it's a leading cause of aggression. And always use a leash.
  • Always be alert. If someone approaches you, ask them to wait before petting the dog. This might allow your dog to get comfortable with the new person.
  • Hire a professional. If your dog displays aggressive behavior, a trainer may be able to curb the problem and help the animal overcome stressors.
  • Know your dog's stressors so you can learn to avoid them. For example, if your dog growls at children, keep them and the dog separated. Understanding your dog’s body language will let you know when they might be ready to be petted.
  • Pay attention to their body language. Reading a dog's body language also can be helpful. It may be difficult to read a dog's body language, it’s helpful to look for clues as to whether a dog is feeling threatened, scared or stressed.
  • Have scheduled feeding times.  Don’t leave food in their bowl all day long, allowing them to graze whenever they want.  Schedule daily feeding times and stick to that schedule as much as possible.  Dogs, just like small children, need structure and are often more well behaved when they have a daily routine.  This is one benefit of feeding your dog a raw diet.  You prepare the food, feed them the food, then take the bowl away to thoroughly wash clean.  

What can you do to protect yourself and your family?

  • Avoid putting yourself or children in risky situations. It's important to understand when you should and should not interact with dogs or escalate a risky situation. You should avoid petting a dog in these scenarios: do not pet someone’s dog without the owner’s permission, if the dog is not with its owner, if a dog is sleeping or eating or if a dog appears to be hiding or seeking time alone
  • Educating your family. See the graphic below from www.ASPCA.org/DogBitePrevention about how or whether to approach a dog.

Raw Food Tip:

Remember any dog can bite so educate yourself, educate your children and others about dog bite prevention. Also, a good reminder is that any dog can bite regardless of breed- male or female, big or small. Even the sweetest dog may turn if provoked.

- The BARF World Team

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Sara Forsberg

Sara Forsberg

Sara has been part of the BARF team since 2019. She is responsible for some admin duties, helping keep the office running smoothly and support for Rob Jr. and the rest of the team. She has been passionate about animals since a small child growing up with a Siberian Husky and 3 cats, and as an adult having a Labrador Retriever that suffered from a lot of allergy problems. She now has a rescue orphaned kitten, Poppy, and a new addition in another Lab named Jax. She has 7 children that keep her busy in most of her spare time; but enjoys anything on or near the water, spending time with friends and family, music, reading and cooking.

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What is BARF?

"BARF®" is our acronym that means Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. It is a complete and carefully balanced blend of raw meat, fruits, vegetables and bone. Our formula mimics what nature has designed our pet's to thrive on in the wild. The result is a pet free of allergies, digestive problems, and full of life!