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Tips for preventing dog bites during get-togethers

Any gathering can be a high-risk time for dog bites because you may be visiting a home with dogs, or you are inviting dogs into your home and into a new environment. Even if they are dogs you know well, they can react unpredictably to new people and to stressful situations.

There is also the fact that people coming in and out may mean the doors are open more frequently than usual. A dog could escape the house and injure someone. With all of this in mind, what are some ways to prevent dog bites during such times?

If you own the dog

If you own the dog and the gatherings are at your home, keep the dog well secured especially when people and packages arrive. It can be a good idea to keep the dog in a room or crate separate from everything that is going on. It also helps to exercise your dog so that there is no overabundance of energy. Also, ensure that your dog is current on vaccinations.

Keep people away from your dog's food and water and where the dog rests. Explain to any children or boisterous guests ahead of time how to treat your dog, and always be present when the dog meets new people.

If the dog is not yours

If the dog is not yours, let the canine make the first move. For example, do not force an encounter by petting an animal who is hiding from you or who is eating. That said, you can ask the owner if you can give the dog its favorite treat. Do so while avoiding strong eye contact, and the two of you may bond quickly. (Or you might not!) The key is to approach with caution and to let the process unfold gradually and naturally.

If you feel uncomfortable around the dog or feel forced to interact with it more than you are comfortable doing, find something to distract you or the owner with or simply say no. Your health and comfort are worth it.

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