Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Baark! On : Dog Bite Prevention

Dog Bite Prevention: Simple behaviors to keep your children (and you) safe

It’s a vicious cycle. You’re scared of dogs, you see a stray dog, you tense up, when you are fearful, and this makes the dog fearful. When dogs become fearful, they either ‘fight’ to defend themselves or take ‘flight’ from the situation. This happens quickly, leaving the observer thinking the dog has instantly gone into attack mode.

used with permission
So how can we break this cycle and keep ourselves and more importantly, our children, safe? Your children mimic exactly what they see you do, if you are afraid of dogs, there is a good chance that they will be too.  There is a group of volunteers who visit Nassau’s primary schools, showing children how to be safe around animals. Here are a few points that are given to the children during this presentation.

1. If a strange dog approaches them that they don’t know, they should stand very still like a tree, with their arms crossed and fingers tucked away, and be very quiet
2. Look upwards, as dogs can perceive direct eye contact as a challenge, which we want to avoid
3. If the dog knocks the child to the floor, roll up like a ball, all limbs tucked in, and stay still and quiet
4. If the child is on a bike, dismount and put the bike between them and the dog, wait until the dog has passed, then quietly WALK on.
5. They can carry food in their pockets, like cheese cubes or kibble, and throw it on the ground to distract the dog.

 The key elements of our “stay safe” message are staying still and being quiet. Running or screaming could lead to a dog bite, as friendly dogs may think it’s a game and get too excited whereas other dogs may perceive the shrieking, fleeing object as prey.

It is very rare that dogs do bite for no reason. Recognizing when a when a dog may bite is very important any time that dogs are protecting something, be it food, toys, puppies, property, even the friendliest dogs may bite, because they are doing their job. Dogs may also bite if they are sick.  We do want to remind you that most barking dogs are just scared or being protective and are not being aggressive. The majority of dogs will not want to bite you. If we can break the cycle of fearing dogs in future generations, people will be safer and the dogs of the Bahamas will have much better lives. 

Please spay and neuter your animals, this simple procedure saves lives and decreases the suffering of unwanted animals.
This column is proudly brought to you by BAARK! the Bahamas Alliance for Animal Rights and Kindness.
For more information contact us at, (427.SPAY) or visit our website

Thanks to Shelley Hardman for submitting this article to our column and blog!

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