How to Protect Your Dog and Yourself

Jack Russell Dog Terrier Play Bite Race An

MuttShack Foundation for Animal Foster and Rescue, claim that dogs bite more than 4.7 million people every year in the United States.

The blame may be the dog’s, the owner’s, or the victim’s. But the one who always pays, is the proprietor. The owner of the dog becomes responsible for paying for the medical bills, time lost from work in addition to pain and suffering. The one who suffers most, is the dog that’s abandoned in a shelter or disposed of.

Dog owners should assume more than their share of the responsibility for protecting people and other animals from their own dogs, and also assume the responsibility to protect their dogs from individuals. Kids will run up to a dog screaming in delight and frighten the dog. A dog in his excitement to greet someone may jump up and scratch him or her. A passer-by may approach a dog harshly or provoke him. Neighborhood kids may allow the dogs out just to have some fun.

There is no way to ensure that your dog will never bite someone.

o Spay or neuter your dog. This important and routine procedure will lower your dog’s desire to roam and fight with other dogs, making safe confinement an easier task. Spayed or neutered dogs are much less likely to bite.

Introduce your dog to many different kinds of people and situations so that he or she is not nervous or frightened under normal social circumstances.

O Train your dog. Accompanying your dog to a training class is a wonderful way to socialize him and to learn proper training techniques. Every member of your household should learn the training techniques and participate in your dog’s education. Never send away your dog to be trained; only you can teach your dog how to behave in your property. Note that training classes are a great investment even for seasoned dog caregivers.

O Be alert with your dog around children. Rambunctious play may startle your dog, and he may respond by biting or snapping. Neighborhood children may be attracted to your dog, so be certain you have a child-proof lock on your gate and there’s absolutely no way for little hands to get through the fence.

o Teach your dog appropriate behavior. Never teach your dog to chase after or attack others, even in fun. Your dog can’t always understand the difference between real-life and play situations. Set appropriate limits for your dog’s behaviour.

Don’t await an accident.

The first time he exhibits dangerous behavior toward any individual, seek professional help from your veterinarian, an animal behaviorist, or a qualified dog trainer. Dangerous behavior toward other animals may eventually lead to dangerous behavior toward people, and it’s also a reason to seek expert help.

O Be a responsible dog owner. License your dog as required by law, and provide regular veterinary care, including rabies vaccinations. For everyone’s safety, do not allow your dog to roam alone. Make your dog a member of your family. Dogs who spend a whole lot of time alone in the backyard or tied to a chain often become dangerous. Dogs who are well socialized and supervised are much less likely to bite.

If you do not know how your dog will react to a new situation, be cautious. If your dog overreacts to visitors or delivery or service personnel, keep him in another room. Work with professionals to help your dog become accustomed to these and other situations. Until you are confident of his behavior, however, avoid stressful settings.

I thought you said your dog doesn’t bite? “That’s not my dog”… says Peter Sellers.

Seriously, if your dog bites someone, act responsibly; consider these steps to mitigate the harm:

o Confine your dog immediately and check on the victim’s condition. If necessary, seek medical assistance.

O Provide the victim with important information, such as the date of your dog’s last rabies vaccination.

If your dog must be quarantined for any length of time, ask whether he may be confined within your home or at your veterinarian’s hospital. Strictly follow quarantine requirements for your dog.

O Seek professional help to prevent your dog from biting again. Consult with your veterinarian, who may refer you to an animal behaviorist or a dog trainer. Your community animal care and control agency or humane society may also offer helpful services.

If you have to let your dog go, don’t drop him off in a shelter, where he will only be given a few days to live. Take the opportunity to find him a new family. To do this there is a support and training network called MuttShack, at http://www.Muttshack.org, who will teach you how to re-home your pet.

O If your dog’s dangerous behavior cannot be controlled, and you need to make the painful decision to give him up, don’t give him to someone else without carefully evaluating that person’s ability to protect your dog and prevent him from biting. Because you know your dog is dangerous, you may be held responsible for any damage he does even when he is given to someone else.

o Never give your dog to someone who wants a dangerous dog. “Mean” dogs are often forced to live miserable, isolated lives, and become even more likely to attack someone in the future. If you must give up your dog due to dangerous behavior, consult with your veterinarian and with your local animal care and control agency or humane society about your options. Be safe, be responsible and most of all, teach your dog to be a good canine citizen.

O Your dog lives to make you happy. If he understands what you need from him, he’ll make you proud.

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