National Dog Bite Prevention Week

May 13, 2011 at 6:14 pm 11 comments

May 15th – 22nd is my birthday week! It also happens to be National Dog Bite Prevention Week!

Just look at this soft sweet face of my pumpkin-headed boston terrier. Hard to believe that he is hypersensitive to so many things and “aggressive”.

I think about Dog Bite Prevention every single day. It’s a drag, but that’s how it is.  Boogie had a bite history even before I adopted him which is why his previous humans put him in a shelter.  I didn’t let this knowledge stop me from adopting him because at the time I had no idea what it meant to have a dog that bites. I naively thought at the time that “dog training” would be as easy as it looked on The Dog Whisperer Show, and I had no idea I had SO MUCH to learn about dogs…. and about all the stuff that people (unconsciously) do to upset dogs.

Sharing here some new drawings  and links.

1. a new illustration of dog body language showing stressed/distancing signals as well as happy/friendly ones.  My references: Turid Rugaas, Brenda Aloff and Boogie.   Links to download or purchase are HERE.

click on image to see larger sizes

2. Sneak peek at Grisha Stewart’s book on BAT (Behavior Adjustment Training) which will be out this summer and available from I am dying to share some of these illustrations but we’ll all have to wait for the book! 🙂

3. Madeline Gabriel’s blog: Dogs and Babies is awesome.

Read this blog entry: Ask The Dog (Part 1)

There is also a post on how little children become magnetized by dogs… and how to nip this behavior in the bud for everyone’s safety, and more importantly so that  kids learn respect for others’ personal space.  Here is the first in a series of articles .

Here are Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

For example, when your child crawls in the general direction of your dog, stop and point out the dog.  “Look, our dog is resting.  When our dog is lying down, we move around.  Let’s move around the dog.”  Show your child by example what you mean by “around.”  Aim for at least a three foot buffer to allow room if the child were to fall or the dog stretch out a leg or roll over.

Tell your child, “You did it!  You walked around our dog.  She feels safe when you walk around.  You are a good friend to dogs!”

4. Liam J. Perk Foundation: Why Dogs Bite and How They Warn Us

“This is a classic example of inter-species miscommunciation. The reporter was showing affection for the dog by leaning in and putting both hands on the dog’s neck. The dog did not interpret this as a friendly gesture, but rather saw it as a threat and acted accordingly.” (via )


Never punish your dog for growling. This may seem counter-intuitive and may even go against the advice of your dog trainer or dog trainers you have seen on TV. If your dog growls at your child he is sending a clear warning that he is very uncomfortable with the actions or proximity of the child. Be grateful that your dog chose to warn with a growl rather than going straight to a bite. If you punish the growling, you may inhibit the warning growl the next time and the dog may bite without growling first. Punishment or scolding will not make the dog feel better about the child, in fact he may even feel more anxious and be even more likely to bite in the future, especially if you are not there to control the situation. If your child cannot follow directions and/or has got into the habit of being rough with the dog, then the dog and child should be separated until the child has learned to treat the dog with kindness and respect.

5. Dr. Sophia Yin has an excellent article on Dog Bite Prevention

Dave Dickenson, interim director of the Sacramento County Animal Care and Regulation: ” One problem is that we’ve been told many times that you should greet a dog by letting him sniff you hand, but in reality, the best way to greet is to stay outside of the dog’s personal bubble and let the dog approach you at his own rate.”

I did the illustrations for this poster which can be downloaded here.

I also animated this video –

* Please share! 🙂

6. I like this tweet via @Fearfuldogs:

If a dog doesn’t hurt a person or other dog when it bites, chances are this was a choice not luck.

Entry filed under: Articles, links, Reads, Social stuff, Training.

Podcast with Irith Bloom on “Stressed Dogs” Trainer vs Trainer – pilot episode

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