A dog is known to be a human’s most faithful friend. While that is true, one should also keep this in mind that dogs are animals and when provoked, can bite. Children tend to be more bitten by a dog than adults. Some of the bites can be serious and need immediate medical attention. Whenever we think of a dog bite, we think about a stray or strange dog; however, there are many cases where people get bitten by a dog familiar to them, such as their own pet or a friend’s dog.
13 Common Human Behaviors Which Provoke a Dog to Bite
There are many human tendencies and behaviors, which can provoke a dog into biting, especially if the dog is a strange one. Many dogs may not react with aggression, however, for those dogs which do react with aggression, the human behaviors which cause this aggression includes:
- Challenging a dog or teasing a dog for food or water. Some people will tease a dog by removing its food from it. This can result in aggressive behavior of the dog.
- Attacking or trying to attack a dog and its companions triggers aggression in a dog.
- Trying to invade a dog’s territory can also result in a dog reacting in a violent manner, such as biting. By nature, dogs are pack hunters and they have a natural instinct to defend themselves and other members of their pack.
- Stroking or trying to play with a strange or unfamiliar dog can result in aggressive behavior of the dog, as the reaction of any dog is quite unpredictable in presence of strangers.
- If a dog is injured or sick, then the tendency for it to become irritable or aggressive when toyed with is high. Such dogs usually overreact to any unpleasant stimulus. Sickness-induced attacks are commonly seen in dogs with rabies.
- Dogs also have the capacity to feel fear. If there is any threat or insecurity then the dog may attack you as a defensive mechanism because it is afraid.
- Interference when the dogs are fighting or trying to restrain a dog during a dog fight can also result in a dog bite.
- There are certain threatening body gestures or language, such as directly staring or making eye contact at the dog can be perceived as a threat by the dog. If an unfamiliar person moves their face close to the dog’s snout, then it can be felt by the dog as a challenge or a threat.
- Dogs have a natural predatory instinct of wolves, such as chasing the prey. So, if you are running away or trying to run away from a dog, this can be perceived as weakness which can set off predatory behaviors in a dog.
- If you are holding your hand out to a dog and abruptly jerk it away from the dog, it triggers a strong impulse in the dog to grab and hold your hand resulting in a bite.
- Trained attack dogs will be aggressive or attack an intruder without any warning.
- Redirected aggression is a type of attack by a dog when an already excited dog from a different source directs its aggression on another target, especially when the said target also provokes the dog, such as someone staring or shouting at the dog.
- Dogs can attack as result of some innocent human behavior, which can be perceived as an attack to the dog. Such behavior can be seen when someone startles a dog, or mistakenly steps on a sleeping dog’s tail or paw.
Who Is At Risk For A Dog Bite?
- People who have a dog as a pet are at an increased risk for a dog bite. The more the number of dogs, the higher the risk.
- Men are at an increased risk for dog bites than women.
- Children between the ages of 5 to 10 are at an increased risk to be bitten by a dog.
Tips To Prevent Dog Bites
- Always pick a dog of a good temperament when choosing for a pet.
- Steer clear of strange dogs.
- Never ever leave kids alone with a dog, especially a strange dog.
- Avoid trying to play with a dog, which is feeding her puppies or is eating a meal.
- Slowly approach a dog and give it a chance to approach you also.
- In case the dog shows aggression, then avoid making eye contact with the dog, screaming and running. Instead stay calm and move away slowly.
First Aid for a Dog Bite
- Place a clean cloth or a towel on the dog bite injury site to stop the bleeding.
- Wash the bitten area with soap and water.
- Place a sterile bandage on the wound.
- Elevate the injured region.
- Topical antibiotics need to be applied daily to the injury to prevent infection.
Treatment for Dog Bite
First aid for a dog bite can be given at home, however, it is vital to see a doctor also, especially if the dog bitten you is a strange or stray one. The three important things to look for after a dog bite is the damage to the skin, injury to the underlying tissues (nerve, muscle, bone) and infection. Immediate medical attention is required if the dog bite is deep and if the bleeding is not abating, or if there are signs of infection, such as swelling, redness, pus and warmth. Antibiotics are required for infections caused by a dog bite. Treatment for a dog bite comprises of:
- The doctor examines the wound to assess how deep it is and to find out if the bite has damaged muscles, nerves, tendons or bones.
- Next, the doctor will thoroughly clean the wound in order to remove dirt, bacteria, and dead tissues.
- In some cases, the doctor may suture the dog bite wound if it is very deep.
- Rabies vaccine will be given if the dog’s health status is not known or if the dog tests positive for rabies.
- A tetanus shot can also be given if you are not up to date on it.
- Antibiotics are prescribed for one or two weeks for prevention or treatment of an infection.
- A follow up visit is needed in 2 to 3 days to re-check the dog bite injury.
- If the dog, which has bitten you, is strange or unfamiliar, then you need to report the bite to the local animal control office/police.