Recently an 85-pound Argentine mastiff dog was saved from an icy lake after falling in while chasing a coyote; a Denver news channel decided to cover the story and reunite the dog, owner, and rescuer just a day later for a telling tale of bravery. Just minutes into the live interview the Denver television news anchor, Kyle Dyer, leaned her face toward the panting dog as she pet him and received a startling bite that left her with 70 stitches on her lips (which are currently sewn shut due to loss of blood) and nose. The dog was quarantined and later released, but the dog bite has made national news and become a topic of debate. All of this current talk brings us to today’s blog: dog bites. How can you prevent dog bites, and what are treatments if one is to arise? There are many reasons a dog bites; it may be out of fear or aggression; it may be territorial; or, it may be a lack of socialization that causes a pooch to bite. Keep your puppy content (fed, exercised, loved, trained) and with well socialized to avoid unnecessary nips, teach from a very young age that biting is not acceptable. Don’t forget to keep your furry friend up to date on their shots. If you approach a canine that is not yours, always assess their demeanor before throwing your hand out for a pat on the head. Panting may be due to a recent exercise, but it could also stem from fear. When dogs sweat, panting is a natural cooling system. News anchor, Kyle Dyer, reached to rub the head of a panting pooch that had just undergone rather traumatic circumstances a day earlier in an unfamiliar setting; it is more than likely that pup was panting out of nervousness, and the bite was a way of protecting himself. Likewise, don’t startle dogs by invading their space suddenly. Let the dog sniff around and approach you instead. If a dog is eating, sleeping, or caring for young pups, do not interrupt. If there is a dog bite that occurs, take action immediately. Wash the bitten area to avoid infection and seek medical care. If the bite is bad enough an ambulance might even be necessary. Get in touch with the local authorities, owner, and the dog’s veterinarian for medical papers, as well as future preventative steps. Being a responsible dog owner and an educated public are the two main steps to lowering the statistics of dog bites.
Typically an excessively shy dog stems from a lack of positive exposure as a puppy. The socialization period is an important time for young pups when their confidence is infused. While some dog breeds are naturally coyer than others, an overly shy pooch can develop into serious behavior issues with any under socialized dog. One common fear a timid dog may suffer from is that of people. Thankfully this dilemma may be corrected with patience and understanding. If your furry friend is apprehensive around people, help your hound conquer their fear by taking baby steps in the right direction; start by inviting over a friend (preferably another dog lover). Inform your guest prior to their visitation about your canine’s fear, if your friend acts in a passive manner it will show your pooch there is no threat. Keeping your bashful buddy in their own environment will assist in easing their discomfort a bit. If your pooch insists on retreating to a trusted hiding spot during your guest’s visitation then allow them time to regroup and keep your conversation cheerful to demonstrate a safe environment to your hiding hound. Depending on the level of fear your canine contains they may need further attempts; most timid dogs are interested and are just too uneasy to approach. Try to entice your furry friend to come out using a dog treat – distract their attention from your guest to the treats, tossing a treat their way and then ignoring them as they make their way out to indulge in the bait. Keep with this process, tossing dog treats closer to you and your guest each time, until your pooch is out of their safety zone. It is also suggested that you have your guest pet your pup. Although if your friend does go in for a pet be sure that they reach under to stroke your dog’s chest rather than over the dog’s head so not to scare them more. If your canine still displays trepidation then back off a bit, forcing the situation may only worsen the fear, and ask your guest to try again another day. Continue this routine fairly regularly with different people until your canine feels more comfortable. In time your dog should be able to overcome their people fears and live a healthier, more sociable life.
Barking is a perfectly natural, normal behavior in dogs- it is how they communicate. Of course, that’s not a good enough explanation for neighbors or relatives of a yappy dog. There are many reasons a dog will bark unnecessarily. Loneliness and boredom are two of the top reasons. Dogs who bark due to boredom are not sure how to behave when they are alone. They are used to being lavished with attention and when it is not provided, they bark because they are upset and unsure of what to do. Some dogs bark just to get your attention. Your dog learns that if he barks and you give in, that barking gets results. Other dogs are territorial and bark to alert you when they see strangers or other animals outside. Some breeds naturally bark more than others. The list goes on and on. You would never want to eliminate barking completely, but your dog can be trained to control unnecessary barking, which will help your dog’s ability to communicate and bark at the proper time if a problem arises. Training your dog to curb unnecessary barking requires you to stay calm and takes lots of patience, but with time, it can be done.
Before you begin bark training, you want to try to find the source of your dog’s barking. Is he hungry? Thirsty? Does he need to go outside? Your dog might just be trying to tell you something simple. If he is barking at people or animals outside, close the blinds or shades to remove his motivation. If your dog does not get enough exercise he will be more prone to behaving badly, therefore barking more. When you leave, give your dog something to do to avoid boredom, such as a Kong dog toy stuffed with treats or plenty of chew toys. If your dog is occupied, he will not think about barking. Make sure your dog gets plenty of brisk exercise every day. There are quite a few methods of teaching a dog not to bark. Some, such as spanking and shock collars are inhumane and ineffective and should not be used. You can purchase a citronella no-bark collar. This method is effective and not cruel. If your dog barks, the collar sprays a small amount of citronella which dogs find very annoying. He will learn not to bark to avoid the spray. Another way to stop barking is to use positive reinforcement to teach your dog to bark on command and this will in turn help him to learn to be quieted on command. You could find something to make a loud noise when your dog is barking, such as a can full of pennies, to get his attention. Every time your dog barks, shake the can and eventually he will learn to stop barking to avoid the noise. Using a clicker to train your dog is effective as well. When your dog is good, always praise him and give him dog treats as a reward.