How to Avoid Dog Bites (plus Be More Fun and Less Annoying)

_MG_2445Do you love to pet your dog? Does your dog love it too? Are you sure?

Here’s a family safety video with a way to ask your dog if he or she likes the way you are petting. I call it the 5-Second Rule, and every person who interacts with a dog, cat, or even horse should know it, because it’s excellent bite prevention and also just basic polite manners! Teaching it to children will avoid bites and also teach the concept of setting their own boundaries for safe interactions.

5 Steps for the 5-second Rule

1. Wait for the dog to interact with you, scratching the body part that is closest to you first, like the dog’s side. If the dog says no (doesn’t show signs of wanting to interact), honor that request by keeping your hands to yourself.
2. Pet for no more than 5 seconds (less if the dog is shy or not in your family)
3. WAIT. Stop and wait for the dog to turn or move toward you, asking for more.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you or your dog are done with the petting.
5. If you’re done and your dog is not, see below on the All Done hand signal.*

* All Done Signal: Your dog is not the only one who gets to say, “I’ve had enough.” You need a way to tell your dog to stop asking for petting. Luckily, you don’t have to yell or be mean, you just have to communicate clearly. For my All Done signal, for example, I show that both hands are empty and say “All Done.” After you give the signal, ignore the dog for a little bit so that the meaning of the All Done cue is clear.

Once you teach the cue, you can use it to tell your dog that you’ve noticed the request but you are not giving attention, feeding from the table, etc. It’s great for stopping begging at the table, if you are consistent.

For more safety tips on how to interact with dogs, check out the Family Safety category in the library.

Tips and illustrations from this video are from the Official Ahimsa Dog Training Manual. Illustrations by Lili Chin.