Charlottetown & Summerside, PE

Behind the Bite: My Encounter During Bite Prevention Week

As someone who has spent years working with dogs, I thought I had a good handle on reading their body language and understanding their signals. However, I recently had a pretty unique experience. 

Bite Prevention Week served as a stark reminder that even the most experienced among us can miss crucial cues from our furry friends. 

Picture this: I was interacting with a dog who, on the surface, seemed perfectly calm and content. He was stoic, almost unflappable, which led me to believe that he was feeling comfortable and at ease. Confident in my ability to interpret his behavior, and having previously assessed him and met him three times before, I made what I thought was an innocuous gesture towards him of leaning down to place some treats on his mat; a quick demo during a relax on mat exercise. 

But in an instant, everything changed. Without warning, the dog latched onto me with a serious bite and held on tight. Shocked and in pain, I couldn’t help but wonder how I had missed the signs that something wasn’t quite right. 

Reflecting on the incident, I realized that this dog may have been exhibiting subtle signals of discomfort that I had failed to recognize. His stoic demeanour, far from being a sign of contentment, was actually masking underlying tension and unease; leaving body language too subtle even for a professional to reasonably suspect anything. In my eagerness to engage with him as I had many times before, I had overlooked the importance of observing his body language closely and respecting his boundaries before truly and deeply knowing him. He was a new rescue dog, so his poor unsuspecting owner could also never have known his potential and was not informed of any bite history by the rescue.

At this point, many people ask me what breed he was; which I won’t share because it is not relevant but suffice to say he was a very large dog. This experience served as a valuable lesson for me, reminding me of the importance of always approaching dogs with caution and respect, regardless of how familiar with them I may be. It’s easy to become complacent, especially when we feel confident in our abilities, but the truth is that dogs are complex creatures with their own unique ways of communicating.

So, although Bite Prevention Week has come to a close, let’s take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to responsible dog ownership and handling. Let’s educate ourselves on the canine body language, learn to recognize the subtle signs of stress and discomfort, and always prioritize the safety and well-being of both ourselves and our canine companions. 

If you’re looking for the steps you can take right away to this effect, I can share this free body language course from my friend and colleague, Renee of Bravodog – The Basics of Dog Body Language.

Remember, a moment of vigilance can prevent a lifetime of regret. One of my mentors said, “Always have a healthy appreciation for every dog’s potential for aggression.”

If you are ever bitten in this serious, bite-hold manner, here are some of the quick tips and actions you can take.

  1. Don’t panic – realize as you are being bitten what is happening.
  2. Freeze – remain as still as possible. Don’t try to pull your hand or body part out and away, as you may cause further tissue damage or the dog to escalate.
  3. Calmly wait – distract the dog if possible by tossing food or a toy away from you. Keep your other limbs to yourself and hope to minimize damage.
  4. Seek Assistance: if there are other people nearby, calmly ask for their help. They can try to gently remove the dog from you or call a professional for assistance if needed. 
  5. Hospital Emergency Visit: Even if the bite seems minor, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. You may be in shock and should have it looked at by a healthcare professional. Dog bites can lead to infections and other complications, so it is crucial to have the wound properly cleaned and treated. If you are not up to date, you will need a tetanus shot. 
  6. Report the Incident: Depending on the circumstances, you may need to report the incident to animal control or other relevant authorities. This is especially important if the dog is unknown or if there are concerns about its behavior. 


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As someone who has spent years working with dogs, I thought I had a good handle on reading their body language and understanding their signals.

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