Who knew? Little girls who love all things cuddly can be threatening — or so it seems to our German Shepherd, Tucker. He is generally a submissive guy. Yes, he barks a lot, but the other end is wagging, so it seems to be his way of saying hello. The only time I’ve seen him growl at someone is when a couple of fourth grade girls rushed toward him, wanting to pet him. And thereby hangs my lead-in to saying a bit about National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which is this week, May 19-25, 2013.
Dogs bite for many reasons. For Tucker, it’s the fear factor. Those scary little girls frightened him. Some dogs have territorial issues, while others might not feel well. I understand this. I sometimes would like to bite someone’s head off when I don’t feel well.
Dogs also bite when they’re playing, and frankly, it’s not a good idea to play tug of war and wrestling games with your pup. What starts as a playful nip could turn into a serious bite, particularly when it involves a child or an elderly person with fragile skin. Even offering a dog a treat with your fingers can be a problem. My dad’s neighbor offered his beloved dog a piece of meat, and lost three fingers. He was a dentist, and his mistake cost him his career. Best to put the food down or use the flat of your hand.
Children are the most common victims of dog bites, followed by senior citizens, according to the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA). Its website also has an excellent list of teaching points for children about dog safety, including not to approach unknown dogs, never to pet a dog without getting permission from the dog’s person and what to do if attacked. Go over them so you can share them with kids you know. You may learn something yourself that might ensure that your own or someone else’s dog doesn’t get into trouble over something that could have been prevented. It’s worth a few minutes of your time.