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Good Dogs Bite Too

Be aware that any dog can bite. From the smallest to the largest, even the most friendly, cute and easygoing dogs may bite if provoked. Everyone can prevent bites from happening - including you! Prevention is key for a safe community.

What to do if bitten

  • Get owner's name, address and phone number
  • Call Animal Control: 306-385-7387
  • Call Population and Public Health: 306-655-4612
  • Contact a doctor to discuss rabies, tetanus immunization and possible infection

Recognize the warning signs

When most dogs bite they do so out of fear. It is important to recognize the warning signs dogs display when they are feeling anxious or fearful. The most common warning signs include: 

  • wide eyes
  • ears lowered
  • tail tucked
  • avoiding eye contact

Tips for bite prevention

Although you can never guarantee that a dog will ever bite, there are several ways you can significantly reduce the risk. Below are a few tips to help prevent dog bites from happening: 

General bite prevention tips
  • Always ask the owner before approaching the dog. If the owner says it is okay, first allow the dog to sniff a closed hand. Then pet the dog’s shoulders or chest and take care to avoid petting the dog on the top of the head.
  • Avoid approaching a dog with no owner present. If a loose dog comes you, refrain from running or screaming. Instead, avoid eye contact with the dog and stand very still (like a tree), until the animal moves away. Once the dog loses interest, slowly back away.
  • Never try to outrun a dog. If a dog does attack, “feed” the dog a jacket, bag, bicycle—or anything for the dog to grab or anything you can put between yourself and the dog.
  • Never approach a barking, growling or scared dog.
  • Never put your hand in the way of dogs who are fighting.
  • Do not approach, touch or play with any dog who is sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy/bone, or caring for puppies. Animals are more likely to bite if they’re startled, frightened or caring for young.
  • Avoid petting dogs who are behind a fence or in a car. Dogs often protect their home or personal space.
  • Make sure children are cautious around new dogs.
  • Have open conversations with your child about dog bites and the appropriate way to behave around dogs.
  • If a child falls down or is knocked to the ground by a dog, they should curl up in a ball with his knees tucked into the stomach, and fingers interlocked behind the neck to protect the neck and ears. If a child remains still and quiet, the dog will most likely sniff and then go away.
  • Don't tease dogs (pull tails/ears/fur, poke, stare in the face, yell, take away toys, etc.).

Tips for choosing a dog
  • Adopt from a well-managed animal shelter whose staff and volunteers can provide you with essential details on the dog’s background, personality and behavior.
  • Spay or neuter your dog as soon as possible. Healthy puppies can be spayed or neutered as early as eight weeks of age. Spayed or neutered dogs may be less likely to bite.
  • Socialize your dog! Well-socialized dogs make enjoyable, trustworthy companions. It’s important for puppies to meet, greet and enjoy a variety of people, animals, places and things. Done properly, socializing helps puppies feel comfortable and friendly in various situations, rather than uncomfortable and potentially aggressive. Under-socialized dogs are a risk to their owners and to others as they may become frightened by everyday things and are more likely to aggress or bite.
  • Take your dog to humane, reward-based training classes—the earlier the better. We recommend starting your puppy in training classes as early as eight weeks. Early training opens a window of communication between you and your dog that will help you consistently and effectively teach her good behavior.
  • Make your dog a part of the family. Don’t chain or tie them outside or leave them unsupervised for long periods of time. Tethered dogs can become frustrated and feel defenseless, increasing the likelihood of a bite. Well-socialized and supervised dogs are much less likely to bite.
  • Don’t wait for a serious accident to happen. The first time your dog shows aggressive behavior, seek professional help from a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), a veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB), or a qualified Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT). 
  • Be aware of common triggers of aggression for your pet, including pain, injury or sickness, the approach of strangers or strange dogs, unexpected touching, unfamiliar places, crowds, and loud noises. If possible, avoid exposing your dog to these triggers. If your pet is often anxious, stressed or panicked leave them at home until they are adequately socialized.
  • If you dog overreacts to visitors or delivery personnel, keep them in another room when visitor come to the house. Work with a qualified behavior and training professional to help your dog become more comfortable with these and other situations. See "Tips for Introducing Your Dog To Visitors" Section Below for more tips and information. 
  • Always supervise children and dogs. Never leave a baby or child younger than 10 years old alone with a dog. Teach your children to treat your dog gently and with respect.

Tips for walking a dog
  • Maintain control of your dog and always use a leash in public.
  • Avoid putting your dog in uncomfortable situations where they may bite.
  • When a person approaches, allow your dog to calmly sniff the person first. Then invite the person to pet your dog.
  • When on a path or sidewalk, walk between your dog and people approaching to act as a barrier.
  • If your dog is friendly, that doesn't mean other dogs or people want to interact.
  • Avoid putting your dog in uncomfortable situations.
  • Don't allow people to hug your dog.

Tips for introducing your dog to visitors
  • Ask if your guests are comfortable around dogs. Don’t assume.
  • Have visitors call ahead so you can prepare for the visit. Dogs can often experience a rush of adrenaline when the doorbell rings. Your dog may be excited to lick the faces of familiar friends, or stricken with the anxiety of having a stranger in their home. There are many things you can do to allow your guests safe access to your home. 
  • Have a firm grip on the dog's collar or leash your pet before your answer the door. This will help prevent your dog from charging the door, jumping on guests, or potentially escaping your home. If you dog is especially anxious or energetic, you may consider putting your dog in a separate room or crate for the first few minutes to give your dog time to adjust to the new scents in the room before meeting your guests.
  • Exercise your pet before your guests arrive. This provides an opportunity for your pet to burn through some energy before your guests arrive.
  • Encourage positive interactions. Some pets are not comfortable around people, and some people are not comfortable around pets. Pets can typically tell when people dislike or fear them and situations can go from tense to dangerous if proper attention is not paid. 
  • Teach your guests about positive body language. Standing at a dog's side instead of facing them head on will feel less aggressive. Having your guest show indifference towards a pet will help demonstrate that your guest is not a threat.
  • Remember that sometimes your pets and visitors simply will not jive together, so be patient and considerate and do not force interaction.
  • Establish house rules. It is important for owners to communicate the house rules when it comes to interacting with your pets.

Dog bites in the community

A community coalition including the Saskatoon Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), the City of Saskatoon Animal Services, the Advisory Committee on Animal Control, the Saskatoon Animal Control Agency and the Saskatchewan Health Authority hit the streets of Saskatoon in order to discover what people's perceptions are regarding dog bites in our community. See what people had to say in these Bite Prevention videos:

 Bite Prevention - Good Dogs Bite Too

 Bite Prevention - Warning Signs

 Bite Prevention - Fearful or Aggressive Dogs