It is frustrating when a healthy dog is relinquished or euthanized because of biting. How can I help prevent this problem?
Any dog is capable of biting, including family pets that are loved and pampered. We all know this, yet bites continue to be a significant cause of injury to our clients and their children—the most frequent victims of reported bites. Adults, of course, are bitten as well but numbers are not as clear because most dog bites are not reported to public health authorities. Most bites to children, which in large part are reported because of the need for medical attention, are by dogs they know.1
The problem of dog bites presents a conundrum for the veterinary profession and for pet owners: We are a society of dog lovers and treat them like members of the family. Yet canine aggression is the most common reason for relinquishment of dogs to shelters and, although numbers have not been reported, for behavior-related euthanasia. Understanding the behavioral basis of dog bites is an important step toward prevention. Veterinarians are an essential piece of this puzzle, with a unique opportunity to help clients understand their dogs’ behavior and to prevent or lessen the risk for biting.