Have you heard stories about the family pet biting someone, or perhaps you’ve been bitten yourself? It’s a sad and stressful event when your beloved Fido takes a bite out of someone. These are a few ideas on how to prevent this from happening or to take action so it does not happen again.

If your pet hides under a table, know that this is their safe spot and that needs to be respected. When your pet snaggles at someone, trust your pet. There is a reason, and it is important to find the logic in their behavior and not to force them to move into a space where harm can come to others.

It has been my personal experience that certain people force themselves on pets. Their attention is unwanted and that should be addressed. Never allow someone to force themselves into your pet’s boundaries. That only sets the stage for possible incidents.

Some pets are fearful of small children because they sense the child may unknowingly harm them. I have been witness to the child who pokes the dog’s face, puts fingers in the eye, and pulls the tail — and those are just a few reasons why dogs may be fearful. It is also my experience that adults aren’t always aware of this and, unfortunately, this can lead to a bite.

Before a dog will bite someone, they will growl, the ears will go down, and the tail will go between the legs. Those are a few of what I call “tells.” Pay attention to these signs.

Before company (family gatherings or more than four people) arrives, I remove my dog from the group and he gets to play with his toys in a room that he already has claimed as his safe haven.

I have been involved with cases of dog bites that related to: rescues; a heightened sense of responsibility to protect the owner; a person forcing themselves on a dog and trying to pick the dog up; children who have been overly aggressive, usually resulting in a dog being cornered; and invading the dog’s safe space (my dog will go to his kennel to hide and adults and children alike want to get him out to play).

Yes, some adults have no common sense when it comes to animals and I feel it is our responsibility to protect our pets. When intervening in a dog fight (usually the dogs work it out) owners will intervene and may be bitten accidentally. Of course, when dogs sense danger they will bark, and they will attack if they perceive imminent danger. This behavior relates to the dog’s role in the family. This role is imprinted on their heart as protector. It is our job to let them know what is safe.

Back to the rescues. In many cases, the adopting family does not have any history about a new dog’s previous life. This becomes a significant challenge if the dog was abused. I advise people to never bring a dog into a home where there are children if the dog has been listed as aggressive. It is also important to have trial periods if you have another pet in the home, to see if they will adapt to the environment.

When a dog has bitten someone, I encourage owners to delve into the circumstances leading up to the bite. They will discover that the old saying, “it takes two to tango,” comes into reality. Going forward, assist your dog with behavioral training. I promise this will make a difference in everyone’s life. My job is to give animals a voice; I believe that you can do this also if you listen with your heart.

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