Lara Sanson, who lives in Argentina, was posing with her best friend’s dog, Kenai, when it unexpectedly bit her face as she hugged it. The teen, who is 17 years old, needed 40 stitches to repair the damage caused by the elderly dog. She had to undergo two hours of operation.
The teen was unsure as to what exactly it was that the dog had reacted to, according to a local newspaper, La Nacion, that interviewed her.
“I do not know if I touched its hip or if it reacted like this because it is old, or it was because I hugged it and scared it.” she told the publication.
A local vet, Juan Enrique Romero, believed the dog may have reacted that way due to its advanced age – “It’s pains are growing and a pain could have generated this reaction”.
The teen said the dog would not be put down.
Dog Behavior and Signals
Many people do not realize that most dogs give off several signals before they attack, and the attacks are thus not as unexpected as believed. A few signals that tell you that the dog wants you to ‘back off’ are the following:
- licking its lips
- ears flattened
- eyes turned away from you
- stiff body
If you approach a dog and see any of the above signals, you should back away immediately.
- Let the dog come to you.
- Don’t make extended eye contact
- Use a higher pitched tone of voice
Don’t hug a strange dog, it is viewed as a threatening move on your part or an act of dominance. Dogs learn to tolerate this behavior from their owners, and may even enjoy it from people they know and trust, but if you don’t know the dog well, this is ill-advised. The neck is the most vulnerable part of a dog, as is its underbelly, and movements to this area are instinctively perceived as a threat to the dog.
Don’t put your hand above its head when you approach it, if it comes to you, let it sniff your hand, and then very slowly scratch the side of its face instead – if it looks like it will allow you to do this.
If a dog is elderly, injured or in pain, give it space and don’t touch their sensitive areas. Dogs that are normally friendly and docile can become defensive when they are in pain and may lash out, bite or growl.
Never let a child approach a strange dog, no matter how friendly or cute it may seem. Always teach them to ask for permission from the owner first – “May I please pet your dog?” and receiving a “No” is a lot better than rushing a child to a hospital. Teach children to recognize dog behavior and their signals.
If a dog bites and then backs off and maintains its distance, most likely the dog was defensively reacting and not being aggressive.
In this instance, it looks like the dog may have felt threatened temporarily and bit defensively.
- The girl has her arm held very snugly around the dog’s neck.
- The dog’s ears are down
- It appears to be an elderly dog, judging the white fur around its nose and mouth, so the probability that it has more aches and pains that are not obvious to the girl.
- The girl is not the owner, this is her best friend’s dog – no matter what, the dog views its own family as its pack, and everyone else will not be given as much leeway or trust as the people in the home it lives in