Doggone It! Treating and Preventing Dog Bites

April is Dog Bite Awareness Month, and Cloud Peak Veterinary Services would like to share some information about this topic.  Keep in mind that there are no untrainable dogs, as they are just reacting to their environment the only way they know how: aggression. We will come back to this concept later in the article, so skip down to “Training Your Dog to Keep Their Teeth to Themselves” to read more about it. For now, let’s discuss what you need to keep in mind if you get bitten by a dog. 

Got Bitten?

It does not matter if you got viciously attacked by a feral dog or if little Bella nipped you while you were playing – a dog bite needs to be looked at by a medical professional. You may not be able to get care right away, but we suggest you get your doctor’s opinion within eight hours of the bite. As  mentioned in our other articles, dogs use their mouths for virtually everything. This means that the dog could have bacteria from under your porch, their own feces, or anything they can get a hold of. All that unwanted bacteria could lead to infection, which is why you will want to see a doctor. The wound itself can heal and be treated, but the major source of complications and issues from dog bites stems from the infection from the bacteria. Before you run out to the hospital though, you’ll want to follow a few steps to slow down or prevent infection. These steps are: 

  1. Clean the wound as soon as possible. Use warm water and soap to clean the area. Then pat it fully dry. 
  2. Evaluate your wound. Now that it’s clean, you can better see the damage done. Evaluate the wound, noting where it appears to be bleeding the most. Use a clean cloth to slow the bleeding. 
  3. Once you’ve evaluated the wound, apply some antibiotic cream if you have any. You need to disinfect the area and prevent it from getting infected. 
  4. After the cleaning, use a sterile bandage and wrap the area. This will prevent anything from getting into the wound before you see a medical professional. 
  5. Listen to what your doctor has to say. Whether you have to take medication or get stitches, following the medical advice you receive will lead to the outcome.
  6. Along with what the doctor tells you, make sure to keep the area as clean as possible while it heals. This may include changing bandages several times a day. Be vigilant in order to ensure the best healing. 
  7. Keep your eye out for any infections or complications while you are changing out the bandages. Monitoring your health is a great way to recover quickly. If there are any complications, reach out to your doctor ASAP. 

One of the best ways to prevent dog bites is to avoid them.  This may seem obvious, but keep in mind that you cannot control how other dogs are trained, but you can solidify your own dog’s training to prevent your dog from biting you or other people. 

Training Your Dog to Keep Their Teeth to Themselves

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It is a completely normal behavior for a dog to teeth and to play bite, especially as puppies. Biting is an important part of a puppy’s development, but humans are not chew toys. It is very important to teach your dog how to control their bite so that when they are in pain, are fearful, or stressed, they’ll have the skills to refrain from biting. Part of that is reframing how they play and their understanding of the “social cues” they are being given. For example, when dogs play, they will yip or yelp to let the other know that it went too far. This is a technique that you can try on your dog, but do not be discouraged if it does not work. When your dog is playing too rough, make a high-pitched noise when they bite you, so that they know that the biting is what caused you harm. If your dog gets more excited by your yelps, simply turn your back on them. Remove yourself from the situation so they know that biting, and any other behaviors you are trying to correct, is not acceptable. When your dog has calmed down, reward them so that they know that calming down was the right action. 

We know how hard it is to not get mad at your dog, but it is actually a reward for them (of sorts) if you do yell at them for their biting. Dogs do not understand your full sentences, so when you yell at them for biting, they know that the next time they bite, they will get the same attention from you. Instead, teach your dog that biting means that interaction is over and they need to calm down before you, or any other dogs, re-engage. 

For more information about behavior reinforcement and how it affects your dog, visit this website
Be aware of your dog and the dogs you interact with. Preventing your dog from biting will prevent harm to you or someone else. If you have any questions or concerns about either a dog bite you have, or a biting dog, call us at (307) 347-2781. Otherwise, visit our website to learn more about how to be the best owner for the animals in your care!



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