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Paws & Reflect by Maui Humane Society

September 8, 2011 - Mark Vieth
Dog Bite Prevention

Dogs are amazing animals. They are devoted to us unconditionally. They protect our homes. They find lost children. They predict seizures, detect cancer cells, lead the blind, hear for the deaf, pull wheelchairs, comfort the elderly. They leap from helicopters to rescue the drowning. They die for us in war. They sniff out drugs and bombs. They warm our feet and our hearts. But although they have been our companions for thousands of years, dogs remain largely misunderstood by humans. When a dog bites, we interpret it in human terms as a “mean” or “bad” dog—but in truth it is just being a dog. If you understand what motivates a dog to bite, you can reduce risk by altering both human and dog behavior accordingly.

Young children are the most common dog bite victims, so our MHS bite prevention education is often aimed at children, but it applies to adults as well. Moving quickly, high pitched voices/screaming, direct eye contact, teasing, hugging or kissing (especially unfamiliar dogs), or approaching strange dogs (especially in its vehicle or yard) can increase the possibility of a bite. If a dog approaches aggressively we tell kids to “be like a tree” (motionless). If knocked down by a dog “be like a log” (roll into a ball and lay still). Dog owners can help prevent dog bites by taking training classes with your dog, ensuring they are well socialized, having them spayed/neutered, and keeping them on a leash.

There is a wealth of information available on how to prevent dog bites. Take time to research and understand dog behavior. Our canine friends are worth the effort.

• This column was sponsored by a donation from Maui Accommodations Guide


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