Veterinarians reveal the signs a dog is about to bite and how to keep kids safe around animals

Never stick out your hand and never punish a growl: Veterinarians reveal how to keep your pup safe around dogs and the signs they’ll bite

  • An Australian vet has revealed the best way to approach a dog to avoid a bite
  • Dr Tim Montgomery says to get close to the dog and not hurt your hands
  • The Sydney vet said he had seen children who had scars on their faces from dog bites
  • She recommends parents teach children about dog behavior to keep them safe
  • Dr Tim says give dogs space if they seem anxious and never punish a growl

An Australian vet has revealed what not to do to keep you and your pup safe from being bitten by a dog – and says not to reach out to let them sniff.

Dr Tim Montgomery, Regional Clinical Director of Sydney Animal Hospital, said it was important to know how best to approach dogs to avoid them biting out of fear or stress.

Veterinarians, who specialize in pet behavior, report seeing many children with severe dog bite injuries all of which could have been avoided with some basic education about the behavior and body language of our furry friends.

Dr Tim Montgomery, Regional Director of Sydney Animal Hospital, said it was important to know how best to approach dogs to avoid them biting out of fear or stress.

Dr Tim Montgomery, Regional Director of Sydney Animal Hospital, said it was important to know how best to approach dogs to avoid them biting out of fear or stress.

The 32-year-old vet, who has been practicing for eight years, says while everyone – including her – is always taught to let a dog sniff your hand before patting it, this can be one of the most likely times for someone to get bitten.

‘The reality is dogs often want to sniff you before you touch them, but some dogs don’t even want to sniff you,’ she told FEMAIL.

‘By pushing your hand in their face you enter their space and if they’re already feeling nervous or anxious that’s probably the most likely time for you to be bitten.’

Dr Tim says when approaching dogs, it's best to avoid coming in front of them, bending over them, making too much eye contact and placing your hands over their heads.

Dr Tim says when approaching dogs, it’s best to avoid coming in front of them, bending over them, making too much eye contact and placing your hands over their heads.

How do you know if a dog might bite?

1. Growling and yelling

2. Lip licking, yawning, and avoiding stares

3. Scleral appearance – when the white part of the eye becomes visible when a dog moves its head in one direction and stares at something in another.

4. Stiff position – body stiff, tail raised above head and ears raised

5. Crack lift – when the hair on the neck, back and/or tail lifts.

6. Tail wagging – ‘aggressive’ wagging is a fast, stiff, back-and-forth motion

7. Tail tucked and curled up

Source: PetFinn.com

Instead, Dr Tim says when approaching dogs, whether they’re familiar or odd, it’s best to avoid coming in front of them, bending over them, making too much eye contact and putting your hand on their head like this. common time to be bitten.

‘Get out of the way, crouch down and let the dogs come towards you if they allow them to sniff you haven’t reached out – let them get to know you at their own pace,’ advises Sydney vets.

‘If the dog then pushes into you and rubs against you and seems to want to be patted, apply a gentle stroke – the best place to start is at the base of the tail, back, chest, or under the chin.’

Dr Tim said it was important for parents to educate their children on how to interact with dogs and take action on their own to avoid trips to the emergency room.

‘Both dogs and puppies are very impulsive, they are reactive, they are passionate and they are unpredictable – as a result a dog and a child can sometimes be the perfect storm,’ she says.

‘I’ve personally seen children in veterinary hospitals who lost their eyes or damaged their faces to accidental pet bites who previously showed no indication of such behavior.’

While most of the time dogs and their young owners will get along well, Dr Tim says it’s important for parents to keep an eye on their interactions and be aware of signs of a possible impending bite.

Dr Tim advises against punishing your dog for growling as it is one of the few ways they can communicate discomfort with us

Dr Tim advises against punishing your dog for growling as it is one of the few ways they can communicate discomfort with us

‘A dog has only a limited number of ways to tell someone they are uncomfortable or want to be left alone by showing some fairly subtle signs of fear or discomfort such as lip licking, panting, yawning, snuggling or hiding.’

‘If this doesn’t work for the dog the next step is growling and if the growl doesn’t work or if the dog is very scared then the only other option available is to bite.’

Dr Tim advises against punishing your dog for growling as that is one of the few ways they can communicate discomfort to us.

‘My advice to owners is to always honor growls by giving growling dogs the space they seek – stay away, let them go,’ he says.

‘If they’re in a comfortable bed and they growl just walk away and let it go – let’s remember that all dogs are individuals and they are allowed to feel and behave in a variety of ways.’

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