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Good Dogs Bite Too

A community coalition including the Saskatoon Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), the City of Saskatoon Animal Services, the Animal Services Working Group, the Saskatoon Animal Control Agency and the Saskatchewan Health Authority are working together to raise awareness of dog bites, how they are caused and what owners can do to prevent their pets from biting. 

The community coalition hit the streets of Saskatoon in order to discover what people's perceptions are regarding dog bites in our community. A variety of questions were asked participants including: 

  • Where are dog bites most likely to occur?
  • What should you do if you were bitten by a dog?
  • Should dog bites be reported?
  • What are the warning signs a dog is about to bite?

See what people had to say in the new Bite Prevention video.

Good Dogs Bite Too - Bite Prevention


Bite Prevention

When most dogs bite they do so out of fear so it is important to recognize the signs that dogs give to indicate they are feeling anxious or fearful including: wide eyes, ears lowered, tail tucked or avoiding eye contact

 Bite Prevention - Warning Signs

 Bite Prevention - Fearful or Aggressive Dogs

Tips for Owners
  • Always ask if people are comfortable around dogs. Don't assume. 
  • Allow your dog to calmly sniff the person first. Then invite the person to pet your dog.
  • When on a path or sidewalk, walk between your dog and people approaching to act as a barrier.
  • If your dog is friendly, that doesn't mean other dogs or people want to interact.
  • Avoid putting your dog in uncomfortable situations.
  • Don't allow people to hug your dog.

Tips for the Community
  • Always ask the owner before approaching the dog.
  • Avoid approaching a dog with no owner present.
  • Make sure children are cautious around new dogs.
  • Never put your hand in the way of a dog's food or when dogs are fighting.
  • Don't tease dogs (pulling tails, ears, fur, etc).

Safety Tips for Children

Be aware that any dog can bite. From the smallest to the largest, even the most friendly, cute and easygoing dogs may bite if provoked. The vast majority of dog bites occur by dog's known to the person—his or her own pet, or a neighbor's or friend's pet. You can help protect your child from dog bites by discussing the appropriate way to behave around dogs.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers the following tips:

  • Children should not approach, touch or play with any dog who is sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy/bone, or caring for puppies. Animals are more likely to bite if they’re startled, frightened or caring for young.
  • Children should never approach a barking, growling or scared dog.
  • Children should not pet unfamiliar dogs without asking permission from the dog’s handler first. If the handler says it is okay, the child should first allow the dog to sniff a closed hand. Taking care to avoid petting the dog on the top of the head, the child can then pet the dog’s shoulders or chest.
  • Children should avoid petting dogs who are behind a fence or in a car. Dogs often protect their home or personal space.
  • If a child sees a dog off-leash outside, they should not approach the dog and notify an adult immediately.
  • If a loose dog comes near a child, they should refrain from running or screaming. Instead, avoid eye contact with the dog and stand very still (like a tree), until the animal moves away. Once the dog loses interest, the child can slowly back away.
  • If a child falls down or is knocked to the ground by a dog, they should curl up in a ball with his knees tucked into the stomach, and fingers interlocked behind the neck to protect the neck and ears. If a child remains still and quiet, the dog will most likely sniff and then go away.
  • Children should never try to outrun a dog. If a dog does attack a child, the child should “feed” the dog their jacket, bag, bicycle—or anything that they have for the dog to grab or anything they can put between themselves and the dog.

Tips for Pet Parents

Although you can never guarantee that your dog will ever bite, there are several ways you can significantly reduce the risk. Below are recommendations for Pet Parents as outlined by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

  • Adopt from a well-managed animal shelter whose staff and volunteers can provide you with essential details on the dog’s background, personality and behavior.
  • Spay or neuter your dog as soon as possible. Healthy puppies can be spayed or neutered as early as eight weeks of age. Spayed or neutered dogs may be less likely to bite.
  • Socialize your dog! Well-socialized dogs make enjoyable, trustworthy companions. It’s important for puppies to meet, greet and enjoy a variety of people, animals, places and things. Done properly, socializing helps puppies feel comfortable and friendly in various situations, rather than uncomfortable and potentially aggressive. Under-socialized dogs are a risk to their owners and to others as they may become frightened by everyday things and are more likely to aggress or bite.
  • Take your dog to humane, reward-based training classes—the earlier the better. We recommend starting your puppy in training classes as early as eight weeks. Early training opens a window of communication between you and your dog that will help you consistently and effectively teach her good behavior.
  • Make your dog a part of the family. Don’t chain or tie them outside or leave them unsupervised for long periods of time. Tethered dogs can become frustrated and feel defenseless, increasing the likelihood of a bite. Well-socialized and supervised dogs are much less likely to bite.
  • Don’t wait for a serious accident to happen. The first time your dog shows aggressive behavior, seek professional help from a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), a veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB), or a qualified Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT). 
  • Be aware of common triggers of aggression for your pet, including pain, injury or sickness, the approach of strangers or strange dogs, unexpected touching, unfamiliar places, crowds, and loud noises. If possible, avoid exposing your dog to these triggers. If your pet is often anxious, stressed or panicked leave them at home until they are adequately socialized.
  • If you dog overreacts to visitors or delivery personnel, keep them in another room when visitor come to the house. Work with a qualified behavior and training professional to help your dog become more comfortable with these and other situations. See "Tips for Introducing Your Dog To Visitors" Section Below for more tips and information. 
  • Always supervise children and dogs. Never leave a baby or child younger than 10 years old alone with a dog. Teach your children to treat your dog gently and with respect. 

Tips for Introducing your Dog to Visitors

Have visitors call ahead so you can prepare for the visit. Dogs can often experience a rush of adrenaline when the doorbell rings. Your dog may be excited to lick the faces of familiar friends, or stricken with the anxiety of having a stranger in their home. There are many things you can do to allow your guests safe access to your home. 

  • Have a firm grip on the dog's collar or leash your pet before your answer the door. This will help prevent your dog from charging the door, jumping on guests, or potentially escaping your home. If you dog is especially anxious or energetic, you may consider putting your dog in a separate room or crate for the first few minutes to give your dog time to adjust to the new scents in the room before meeting your guests.
  • Exercise your pet before your guests arrive. This provides an opportunity for your pet to burn through some energy before your guests arrive.

Encourage positive interactions. Some pets are not comfortable around people, and some people are not comfortable around pets. Pets can typically tell when people dislike or fear them and situations can go from tense to dangerous if proper attention is not paid. 

  • Teach your guests about positive body language. Standing at a dog's side instead of facing them head on will feel less aggressive. Having your guest show indifference towards a pet will help demonstrate that your guest is not a threat.
  • Remember that sometimes your pets and visitors simply will not jive together, so be patient and considerate and do not force interaction.

Establish house rules. It is important for owners to communicate the house rules when it comes to interacting with your pets. Some general house rules include:

Never tease a dog. 

  • Taking away their toys or treats
  • Pretending to hit, kick or make sudden movements around the dog
  • Poking the dog
  • Staring the dog in the face
  • Yelling at the dog
  • Going into their crate or kennel

Insist that visitors leave the dog alone when he is:

  • Eating
  • Playing or chewing on a toy
  • Sleeping
  • Caring for puppies

What Should you do if Bitten by a Dog?
  • Get owner's name and phone number
  • Call Animal Control 306-385-7387
  • Contact doctor to discuss: rabies, tetanus immunization or possible infection

Additional Resources

The video campaign, themed “good dogs bite too”, provides a unique perspective on what causes a dog to bite, even a good dog who may have never bit a person before.

The video can be viewed by following this link Good Dogs Bite Too, and viewers are encouraged to share among their networks and friends to help raise awareness of a very preventable incident.​