Presentation on theme: "Dog Bites Employee Safety Series Understanding & Preventing."— Presentation transcript:
Dog Bites Employee Safety Series Understanding & Preventing
Course Information Author: Lynne Presley, Staff & Organizational Development, Oklahoma Department of Corrections Course Released: January 2005 Course Code SAF Training Credit: One hour Copyright All rights reserved. Contact:
Credits Clipart: Corel Gallery and Microsoft Clipart Gallery Photos: D.R. & Lynne Presley; Betty Lytle, Private Prisons Unit Actors: Anita Bailey, Community Corrections; Kyle Lytle Data Sources: D.R. Presley, Personal interview, notes, and CLEET lesson plan on training narcotics detection dogs M.A. Stanley, D.V.M., Norman Veterinary Hospital, Personal Interview. Humane Society familydoctor.org, American Academy of Family Physicians. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
Disclaimer This course is meant to teach preventive measures to avoid being bitten by a dog. Taking the course does not guarantee that you will not sustain a bite, because such a guarantee is not possible. However, the course should lessen the chances of a bite incident.
Introduction Since being domesticated around 10,000 to 14,000 years ago, canis familiarus – the dog – has had a special relationship with human beings. Companion, friend, and protector are the usual descriptions for our canine pets, and many have become integral members of our families.
However, people sometimes encounter dogs in less-than- friendly situations, and this is when man’s best friend can become a threat. In fact, there is an epidemic of dog bites in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control, someone in the U.S. seeks medical attention for a dog bite every 40 seconds. Agency employees, particularly those who work in the community, can encounter dogs during a fugitive hunt, making a home visit, going into a parking lot, and many other work situations, so it’s helpful to understand why a dog may or may not bite a human, and what we can do to lessen the chance of being bitten. Introduction
Dogs are Not People with Fur Jon Katz, author of The Dogs of Bedlam Farm, commented in an interview with USA Today: "Dogs are not people with fur. Their natural inclination is to roll in smelly things, eat small animals and run loose in the park. Part of having a dog is teaching it not to do what most dogs want to do. That's the drama of the dog in America: All their natural instincts are either illegal or considered disgusting.“ Mr. Katz makes a good point. If we want to avoid being bitten, we have to understand the natural instincts of dogs, and not expect them to act or respond as human beings.
“Read” the Dog & Situation It is usually simple to avoid threatening situations involving dogs, but it requires that we consider the situation itself as well as the animal’s body language, just as we do when encountering people. For example, dogs – just like people – will exhibit certain posturing or behaviors for given situations. Fortunately for us, dogs won’t try and disguise or hide those postures or behaviors to try and deceive us. All we generally need to do is simply learn to “read dog” to stay out of harm’s way.
Precaution Strategies: Part One “Recognize the Situation”
The Dog’s Instincts Dogs are only a chromosome or so away from being wolves, and wolves act instinctively to most situations. And that means, while training and domestication have taken the edge off a bit, a dog will often react as would a wolf until modern reality sets in. What does this mean? In a nutshell, dogs don’t like surprises – and their reaction may be violent.
Situation: The Dog’s Territory Dogs are territorial animals and consider their territory to be necessary for survival. Don’t intrude upon a dog’s territory until you are certain the animal will permit you to do so. Even an invitation by the animal’s owner does not guarantee your safety.
Situation: The Dog’s Sense of Threat Let Sleeping Dogs Lie... This old saying means exactly what it says, because dogs will react instinctively to a perceived threat. When someone wakes or startles a dog suddenly, the dog may become fearful and see the person as a threat, resulting in the dog biting until it recognizes that the threat isn’t real. “Bite first – ask questions later!”
Situation: The Dog’s Drive to Survive Food/Water: As with territory, food and water are seen as necessary for the dog’s survival. Unfortunately, most dogs see each meal as the last one they will ever get, and that perception is why a dog may bite when someone gets too close to the food dish.
Situation: The Dog’s Pack Instinct Dogs are pack animals and have an instinctive duty to protect the other pack members – and that includes the human members of their “pack.” Any perceived threat to the pack or its members (such as raising a voice to the dog’s owner, or approaching a mother dog and her puppies) may result in aggressive action by a canine pack member.
Situations: Review Now you’ve studied different situations and how dogs may react to them. Recognizing these situations and using care will lessen your chances of being bitten. However, the situations are just half of the total equation. It’s also necessary to observe the dog and “read” its body language during any situation. + Dog’s body language Situation: Dog’s instinct to survive (eating & drinking) = High potential for being bitten if you try to take the dog’s bone!
Precaution Strategies: Part Two “Read the Dog’s Body Language”
Dog Body Language Dogs are exceptionally honest creatures and do not hide their feelings. These feelings are seen in their body language and are often quite obvious. Dog body language can generally be separated into 3 categories: Head/ears/face General Posture Tail
Dog Body Language: Head, Ears & Face As an example of head/ears/face body language, look at this picture and guess what the dog is thinking, based on the position of her head and her facial expression.
Dog Body Language: Head, Ears & Face If your answer was “Watcha’ doing?” you’ve mastered that particular dog pose. Ears up and/or held forward with head cocked usually indicates curiosity or intense interest. And regardless of ear length or stance, the dog is basically asking the same thing. There’s little threat of being bitten at this point – just interest in what you are doing.
Dog Body Language: Head, Ears & Face Look at this dog. His head is extended, his eyes are focused and intent, and his ears are upright and pitched forward as he listens. What does his body language tell you?
Dog Body Language: Head, Ears & Face This dog is in prey mode – he’s hunting. With a dog this focused, it is best to leave him alone, since an interruption may be perceived as an attack from the side or behind. The potential for being bitten is high!
Dog Body Language: Head, Ears & Face General rules in the category of head/ears/face body language that indicate a probability of a bite incident include: Ears laid back and lips pulled back into a “grin” indicates increasing fear or submission Erect ears and lips retracted from teeth indicates increasing aggression Ears alternating from erect to laid back and lips retracted from teeth indicates a combination of fear/submission and aggression (this stance is common with “fear biters” – dogs who bite when they’re afraid) Eye contact/staring indicates challenge and/or aggression. DO NOT stare directly at a dog!
Dog Body Language: Head, Ears & Face As a final example in this category, what facial expression is this puppy exhibiting? Note that the ears are back a bit, lips are just going into a grin, and he is staring at his owner. And do you see the toy right in front of the dog, and the position of the owner’s hand?
Dog Body Language: Head, Ears & Face Basically, this puppy is fearful that the owner will take his toy, and is challenging her to stay away from his prey (the toy), by staring directly at her. This situation is an excellent opportunity for a nip or mild bite.
Dog Body Language: General Posture Body posture is a little simpler than facial expressions, because most dogs are either relaxed or restless in some way. Relaxed is simple. Look at the picture below and note the dog’s body position while carrying the ball. He’s just kind of ambling across the yard oblivious to most distractions – he’s just looking for someone to play with. There’s little danger of a bite with this body posture!
Dog Body Language: General Posture Here’s another dog who’s relaxed, sitting comfortably, with a calm facial expression and paw lifted as if to shake hands. It’s easy to see he’s looking for play and companionship, as opposed to getting ready to bite.
Dog Body Language: General Posture Other common non-threatening dog postures are: When a dog “bows” before a human (front down and hindquarters in the air), the dog is asking to play. When a dog crawls toward a human, belly close to the ground, or crawls then rolls on its back, it is generally showing submission. This submissive pose may be accompanied by uncontrolled urination.
Dog Body Language: General Posture The final example is a bit obvious, with body language that’s easily understood. What does this dog’s body posture signify?
Dog Body Language: General Posture This dog is signaling “Get away – leave me alone!” The situation is about to get unpleasant. The body posture shows that the dog is ready to attack (and bite).
Dog Body Language: Tail Wagging How about tail wagging? Everyone knows that tail wags indicate a happy dog, right? Unfortunately this is an erroneous belief and can result in severe consequences for the uneducated human. A tail held very high/erect with short, fast strokes indicates major excitement, a possible threat to the dog, or a fear reaction and potential aggression. An animal in this state should be avoided! How about the same tail position but with slower, wide strokes? This is the same position as in the “major excitement” phase above, so is there a danger? Probably not, because the slower, wider tail movement more often indicates anticipation or waiting.
Dog Body Language: Tail Wagging What about a tail held out or slightly curved up, with side to side strokes, as shown in these pictures? Is there imminent bite danger? No. As you can see by the general activity, the dogs are having a good time and, even though the one standing in the pool seems intent upon the toy under water, it’s obviously a playful situation – and the tail activity makes it easy to identify as such. And then there is the dog who wags the entire rear end (especially common for dogs with cropped tails). This posture or activity generally means “Hello! I’m happy to see you!” It may be accompanied with some bowing, as well.
Dog Body Language: Tail Wagging Finally, what about a tail held low or tucked in with slow OR fast strokes as in this picture? This is the same working dog used to stage the previous aggression photo. She is receiving instructions for the next activity and listening intently, preparing to begin an exercise. Given the nature of her training, and the instinctive nature of the species, she is preparing for immediate aggression. This tail behavior is also seen in untrained dogs exhibiting fear or pre-aggression, so this body language can be a warning of possible attack.
Dog Body Language: Review As you can see, dog body posture IS simple. Many times a dog is either relaxed, or “tightly wound” and ready to attack or run away. If you take the time to watch a dog’s posture, you may be able to avoid a painful bite!
Precaution Strategies: Special Concerns There are some special concerns that may not be quite as obvious as body language and situation when deciding whether a dog is safe. For example, both the sick/injured animal and those with some degree of mental instability are always a threat to humans. And as much compassion as we might have for these animals, it is in our best interest to let professionals, such as animal control officers and veterinarians, deal with them.
Precaution Strategies: Special Concerns There are also breed-specific concerns. The Center for Disease Control lists several breeds (at least 30 in all) it considers the most likely to bite. They include: Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Huskies, Malamutes, Dobermans, Chows, Great Danes, Saint Bernards and Akitas. This 1997 study also states that ANY dog may be expected to bite in certain situations, and that the owner may even accidentally induce the bite of another person.
Precaution Strategies: Part Three “Bite Evasion Tactics”
Precaution Strategies: Bite Evasion Tactics Obviously we want to avoid being bitten by man’s best friend whenever possible. And that includes strays, feral dogs, parking lot mooches, and our own pets as well. When it’s necessary to share space with an unknown dog, we can improve our odds of avoiding confrontations by being aware of a dog’s body language and knowing some instinctive behaviors of canis familiarus. Food issues, territory, prey drive and that wagging tail may get us into more trouble than we expected. However, precautions are not always effective. What if you think a dog is going to attack?
Precaution Strategies: Bite Evasion Tactics If a dog attacks you, or acts like it’s going to attack, here are some tactics suggested by the U.S. Humane Society and American Academy of Family Physicians that may save you from serious injury: Never scream and run away. (The dog may think you are prey, chase you, and take you to the ground.) Stand still, keep your arms at your sides or crossed on your chest, and do not stare at the dog (see example on next slide). Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until out of sight. If the dog does attack, “feed” him your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.
Example: “Stand still, keep your arms at your sides or crossed on your chest, and do not stare at the dog.” Notice in the picture at left that Kyle is looking up, rather than staring directly at the dog.
Precaution Strategies: Bite Evasion Tactics If you fall or are knocked to the ground, lie still or curl into a ball with your hands over your ears, and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around.
If You Are Bitten Don’t panic if you are bitten. Wash the wound with soap and water and seek medical attention. It is possible that the bite may have exposed you to rabies. Your local police department and health department should be notified of the bite incident. If the dog who bit you has a current rabies vaccination, it must be quarantined under veterinarian supervision for 10 days. If the dog cannot be located for quarantine, a series of rabies shots (also called postexposure prophylaxis) is generally given to the bite victim.
Course Review “Self-Test”
Course Review: Question 1 1. According to the Centers for Disease Control, someone in the U.S. seeks medical attention for a dog bite every ____ seconds Click here for correct answer Answer: Every 40 seconds Click here for next question
Course Review: Question 2 2. Dogs generally try to hide their aggression towards human beings. Answer: False! Dogs generally show their emotions, including aggression, by their body language. Click here for correct answer Click here for next question
Course Review: Question 3 3. Dogs often revert to “wolf-like” behavior when they feel threatened. Answer: True. Click here for correct answer Click here for next question
Course Review: Question 4 4. You should not intrude upon a dog’s territory until you are certain the dog will allow you to do so. Answer: True. The dog may defend its territory by attacking you. Click here for correct answer Click here for next question
Course Review: Question 5 5. When a dog thinks it is being threatened, it may react instinctively and bite the source of the threat. Answer: True. Even though you may not mean to threaten the dog, its instincts may tell it otherwise. Click here for correct answer Click here for next question
Course Review: Question 6 6. Dogs are friendly creatures, and will never bite you if you take their food or water away while they are eating or drinking. Answer: False. Their instincts tell them to protect their food and water. Click here for correct answer Click here for next question
Course Review: Question 7 7. Dogs often consider their owners as being part of their canine “pack” and will defend them from a perceived threat. Answer: True. Click here for correct answer Click here for next question
Course Review: Question 8 8. A dog’s emotions are often reflected in its body language. Answer: True. Click here for correct answer Click here for next question
Course Review: Question 9 9. It’s safe to stare directly into the eyes of an aggressive dog. Answer: False. The dog will interpret your stare as a challenge! Click here for correct answer Click here for next question
Course Review: Question When a dog “bows” to a human (front down and hindquarters in the air), the dog is generally asking to ______ with the human. Answer: Play. Click here for correct answer Click here for next question
Course Review: Question Dogs only wag their tails when they are happy. Answer: False. Dogs may also wag their tails when they are fearful or aggressive. Click here for correct answer Click here for next question
Course Review: Question Sick and injured dogs may act unpredictably, and can be a danger to humans. Answer: True. Click here for correct answer Click here for next question
Course Review: Question If a dog attacks you, or you think it may attack you, you should scream and run away. Answer: False. If you do this, the dog’s “prey drive” may engage and it will try to chase and attack you. Click here for correct answer Click here for next question
Course Review: Question If you are bitten by a dog that has a current rabies vaccination, the dog does NOT have to be quarantined. Answer: False. The dog must be quarantined under a veterinarian's observation for 10 days. Click here for correct answer Click here for next question
Conclusion Obviously, we want to avoid being bitten by man’s best friend, including strays, feral dogs, parking lot mooches, and even our own pets. As a rule, this can be accomplished by avoiding unfamiliar dogs, and watching for signs or signals from the dogs we do interact with. We can improve our odds of avoiding confrontations and bites by being aware of the dog’s body language, and learning some instinctive behaviors of canis familiarus. Stay alert, and stay safe!