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Always Ask the Dog!

Always Ask the Dog!

It’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week again, which is a subject near and dear to my heart. Would you believe I have never been bitten by a dog? I work with dogs who are aggressive towards me every single day, but I work very hard to prevent anything from happening.

There are many reasons why I haven’t been bitten, and luck is just one of them. This week, I’ll be blogging about those reasons and help provide some tools so that you aren’t bit either. Here’s a sneak peak:

  1. I am not physical with dogs, nor do I do anything that will cause them more fear, anxiety, or pain. There are many people who work with dogs who use punishment, intimidation and force in the name of ‘training’, and they are often bitten. When you use those methods, the dog will likely use aggression.
  2. I read each dog’s body language and I respect it.
  3. I manage a dog’s environment to help him or her feel safe.
  4. I ignore dogs who are adrenalized, anxious, or fearful until they are in a calmer emotional place.
  5. I positively motivate each dog I work with.

The photo shows a sign I had made in 2012 for the National Dog Bite Conference I hosted in Denver. It’s part of the Liam J. Perk Foundation program. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to post it at Chatfield State Park, but it hangs in my training room for everyone to see. These illustrations are of typical dog body language to watch for, and if you do, you can help prevent a bite.

For dogs who are off leash:

  • Be a Tree
  • Keep hands in front of you and at your sides. I always cross my arms and turn away from dogs, also.
  • Count to 60 or until the dog leaves

To greet a dog on leash:

  • Always ask the handler of the dog if you can pet him/her
  • Always ask the dog! Stand sideways and let the dog approach you. If he doesn’t, don’t pet him.
  • Pet under the dog’s chin, not over his/her head.

Also, if you are out and about and a strange dog approaches you, one of my favorite tricks is to take a handful of treats out of my treat bag and toss them at the dog (away from me and my dogs), and on to the ground. As the dog eats the treats, my dogs and I calmly walk away.

Next up: Common Dog Stress Signals