Updated on: 7/21/2022
As a prominent personal injury law firm, we spend a lot of time focused on not just what to do after an accident, but how to prevent accidents altogether, but can the average dog owner do anything to meaningfully help prevent a dog attack?
Both dog owners and people interacting with dogs have steps they can take to prevent a potential biting incident from taking place, here are 5-tips to prevent dog bites through training.
1. Understand What Your Dog is Telling You
The relationship between an owner and their dog is a special one and while most owners love their dogs, it's easy to not fully understand them.
Dog's communicate with us in numerous ways and it can be easy to misinterpret or even completely miss when your dog is giving you important signals like that they are uncomfortable, in pain, or scared.
Missing these signs could lead to a dangerous situation where the dog feels the need to protect itself or simply communicate more aggressively through snarling, snapping or actually biting for effect.
Even if a dog has no history of aggression when put in a dangerous situation any dog is capable of biting and potentially seriously injuring someone.
Dog owners should look for any number of signs their dog may not be comfortable including:
- Turning their head away
- Pinning their ears back
- Stiffening of their body
- Tucking their tail
- Lowering of their head
- Hard eyes
- Showing Teeth
- Snarling/ Heavy Breathing
Not all dogs are alike and it's the owner's role to understand their dog, know their limitations, and look for these important warnings to avoid creating a situation where the dog might bite.
2. Create Routines to Avoid Dangerous Situations
If a dog is known to be uncomfortable in certain situations sometimes you can create a routine and control the environment to both keep the dog safe and comfortable as well as control the situation to keep yourself and others safe.
For instance, a dog who is uncomfortable with guests, children or other animals in the house can be trained to go to a designated place on command or at cues like the doorbell. This place can be as simple as a dog bed, or even an entire room that is then closed off and off-limits during the time the guests are in the home.
Managing guests and other animals is important as well, and expectations should be clearly laid out to avoid accidents or someone disregarding the off-limits area and creating a dangerous situation where the dog's space is violated.
These routines work outside the home as well where a dog on a walk can be trained to focus on their owner whenever there is a potential danger nearby.
Developing these routines with your dog can take time, but positive reinforcement training and a lot of repetitions can help create a safer environment for everyone.
3. Work on Potentially Triggering Scenarios in Controlled Environments
Dogs can be made uncomfortable by any number of triggering sights, sounds, smells, or scenarios, and it's important that once you understand what can set off your dog, and create a routine to control the environment you continue to work on what is making them uncomfortable in a safe and controlled manner.
Whatever it is, introducing your dog to these scenarios in moments where they are already generally comfortable, are not pushed over the edge, and can control and leave at any point, paired with a good amount of positive reinforcement is a recipe to slowly help reduce your dog's anxiety or discomfort with a given scenario.
These scenarios should never be done in such a way that creates a real risk of drawing a bite to anyone involved both for the safety of everyone present and because major setbacks like that only reinforce a dogs fear or aggression in a given scenario and can make whatever is driving the behavior even more deep-seated in the dogs mind.
4. Use Safe and Effective Tools to Enhance Your Training.
Tools like a prong or E-Collar have long been used by trainers to give better feedback to animals, and other training aids such as clickers or equipment like muzzles or crates could be beneficial in your training journey.
It is important to note that these tools are simply that, and used incorrectly can do more harm than good, which is why it's important to research the tools you intend to use and understand when and not to use them.
Muzzles are a safety device unless the dog is so afraid of them it creates an unsafe environment to be around the dog while it is being put on/ taken off.
Prong and E-Collars are used for communication, not punishment, if a dog is being pulled, pinched or choked and doesn't understand why it could easily decide it needs to defend itself.
Crates create a safe space for a dog, but it also gives the dog a space it could decide to defend and a territorial dog can be just as aggressive as a scared one.
In the end, it is widely accepted that the only tool you need to train your dog is consistent positive reinforcement and redirection, tools like those suggested above are merely some ways to enhance that process when used properly.
5. Contact a Local Experienced Dog Trainer
At Davis Law Group, we're all about empowering people with the information they need to get amazing results for themselves when possible, but just like with personal injury claims, there comes a time in attempting to train a dog where it's best to contact the professionals.
A good local dog trainer will understand you and your pet's needs, involve you in the process, and develop a plan to reach your goals and have a safer, more fulfilling life with your pet than you could before.
Trainers may have experience with the specific issues your pet is facing and can bring a new understanding to you and your dog's relationship.
The cost and style of training can vary widely from trainer to trainer and it's important to do your research to make sure the trainer you approach works in a way you are comfortable with.
What to do After a Dog Attack
The truth is, as a dog owner, you can only control what you can control, and no amount of training your own dog can prevent you or a loved one from being attacked by an unfamiliar, or untrained dangerous dog.
You can follow our guide here, for tips to avoid dog bites, but if the worst happens, it's vital you take the attack seriously and get the help you need.
The experienced Seattle dog bite attorneys at Davis Law Group have been helping bite victims for nearly 30-years and offer free case evaluations for victims to help them understand their rights and the process for recovery.
To speak with our team of case investigators, and request a free case evaluation call 206-727-4000 or use the chat or contact options on this today.