When approaching any dog – familiar or unfamiliar – it’s important to understand something very important: dogs can bite at any time without warning. Even if it’s a dog you know and trust and have been around for years. Given the right circumstances it can bite you.
Fortunately, most dogs are good at giving warning signs that they don’t feel comfortable. Whether it’s simply running or shying away from you, or barking and growling, dogs typically let you know when they aren’t happy and don’t want to be messed with. If you are good at reading these warning signs, you can help protect yourself from being bitten.
Along these same lines, a concept that everyone should understand is the idea of trigger stacking. There are certain triggers that make dogs anxious. It could be a siren going off, being near an unfamiliar dog, getting touched on the head by a stranger, or a skateboarder going by. Each of these are examples of potential triggers for a dog to bite.
Every dog has a threshold where these triggers can cause them to bite someone. Every dog is different, so it’s impossible to know what that threshold is. However, if there are multiple triggers going on at the same time, they push the limits of a dogs threshold.
For example, a dog might be fine if an unfamiliar dog is nearby OR a siren is going off OR someone is petting the top of their head. Each of those triggers might not push them over their threshold.
If, on the other hand, a dog is near an unfamiliar dog while a siren is going off and someone reaches to pet them on their head, that might be enough to push them over their threshold, and bite the hand reaching towards them.
It’s not that they don’t want to be touched or are aggressive, but given the different triggers that are stressing them out all at once, they do bite because they instinctually are trying to protect themselves.
Every dog has a bite threshold, and it’s important to understand this concept.
This is especially true if you own a dog and are around it often. Most dog owners are aware of the things that make their dog anxious. It’s important that you stay calm and don’t let others approach your dog if you know it is getting stressed out and there are multiple triggers happening.
If you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog and is interested in learning what their options are, please contact me at 949-496-7000. I offer a free consultation to discuss what options you have and answer your questions.