Saturday, February 20, 2010

Does Your Dog Bite?

You might be surprised--or maybe not--to learn that dogs bit to death an average of 19 human beings in the United States every year between 1979 and 2005 inclusive of '79 and '05. You might be further surprised to learn that dogs inflict wounds on humans more than 4 million, yep million, times per year. Although the fatality rate is low, a lot of bites cause permanent scars (physical and emotional), serious infections, and, generally speaking, a bad time for the patient. Almost all of the biting dogs are domestic (not wild) and they are pets (not aimless wanderers in search of a handout), and many of the bitten are owners of the biters. I have a sweet little dog, a Corgi, and he wouldn't bite a flea--okay, maybe a flea--but in some situations could he become a biter? Here are some points to ponder:
__Do not smile at a strange dog. A show of your teeth could be considered aggression.
__A dog holding its head high usually is curious. A dog with its head held low usually means potential danger.
__Never run away. It signals the dog to chase you.
__Speak firmly: "No," or "Go away."
__Do not face a threatening dog and make eye contact. Stand sideways to the dog and watch it peripherally--it's less challenging to the dog.
__Do not extend your hand for a threatening dog to sniff. Despite lots of opposing opinion, it gives the dog something easy to bite.
__Remain still and at least appear calm. Most dogs have short attention spans and will soon lose interest in you.
__If the dog bites, attempt to stay still. Struggling tempts the dog become more vicious. Most dogs, even after delivering a bite, will eventually lose interest and leave the area.


Greg Friese, MS, NREMT-P said...

Wise words. During a "off-campus" class meeting at the country home of a grad school professor his dog bit me as I got out of the car. My first thought ... "A in this class." My second thought ... "wow this hurts."

Any advice on what to do when chased by a dog while running? I frequently run in rural areas with loose dogs.

Michael Bresnahan said...

I would think bear spray would work in the case of a dog coming after you.

I'm surprised at the number of people who bring dogs backpacking with them I'm even more surprised at the number of people who don't have them on a leash. I’m the Scoutmaster of our local Boy Scout troop and on our last trip up to the Porcupine Mountains we ran into 5 dogs along the trail, lucky for us all were very nice, but this is something that I will be bringing up to my troop, thanks for the post