A dog bites someone's pant leg.

Do you know what you would do if your dog were to bite someone? This may be every dog owner’s worst nightmare and while it may not be something that you want to think about, things happen. 

Your friends at Springbrook Animal Care Center know that being prepared, no matter the circumstance or emergency, can make a big difference in the outcome. How you navigate a dog bite can set your pet up for success or failure, and we are here to put that knowledge in your hands.

In the Moment

If you are present when your dog decides to bite, it is your responsibility to intervene and prevent any serious sequelae. Get involved by:

  • Removing your dog from the situation, while practicing caution to not further agitate the dog
  • Putting your pet in a secure location (indoors, closed room, crate) while you further assess the situation
  • Helping the victim by washing any wounds and applying pressure where needed
  • Seek or encourage seeking of medical attention, even if there do not appear to be serious wounds
  • Provide contact information to the person if it is not an already close contact
  • Notify animal control of the bite within 24 hours, per Illinois law

Taking Action in the Event of a Dog Bite

Once you know that the victim is going to be okay, it is very important to go back and re-evaluate the circumstances that lead to the bite. This is key to preventing something like this from happening again. 

Most dogs don’t bite for no reason. On closer consideration, you may be able to determine a bite trigger such as:

  • Fear
  • Protection of territory or items (can include food, toys, or even people0
  • Surprise/startle
  • Injury or illness
  • Prey drive (the victim was running either out of fear or playful behavior)

Once you identify a trigger, you can start to sort out what types of things may help prevent anyone from being a bite target again. You can also familiarize yourself with canine body language and warning signs that often precede a bite. Remember to never punish your dog for warnings such as growls, as these often provide a valuable clue that a bite is about to occur. 

Setting Your Dog Up for Success

No one wants their dog to be aggressive or labeled as dangerous. As a pet owner, taking some responsibility for your dog’s success ahead of time can help prevent you from being in a situation where your pet has bitten. 

Be sure to:

  • Keep your dog current on rabies vaccination per Illinois state law
  • Provide your pet with a solid training foundation early in life
  • Consider muzzle training for dogs prone to biting
  • Learn to recognize when your pet is anxious, stressed, or scared and intervene appropriately
  • Provide your pet with a safe retreat in your home from visitors or other bite triggers
  • Contact us to evaluate your pet for injury or illness if aggression is new or sudden
  • Talk to a dog trainer about your dog’s behavior and consider what type of training class might be best to help them 

Dog bites sometimes happen, but most times there are things that you can do to prevent them if you are armed with enough knowledge. While there are some pets that are simply dangerous, most times there are ways to help them to live a good life in a safe way.