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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dogs can be our friends when we understand them

Hawaiian Humane Society

Teaching children not to approach a strange dog or to disturb dogs that are sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies can avert tragedies.

STAN WRIGHT | Hawaiian Humane Society

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WHEN DOGS BITE

There are four basic types of dog behavior:

Playful: The dog may jump up, bark and run around, but he is unlikely to bite.

Submission or fear: The dog may not appear hostile, but he may well bite someone who comes too close or makes him feel cornered.

Aggression: The dog often appears tense and may growl or snarl, a warning that he could bite.

Prey-drive: A dog exhibiting prey-drive behavior is likely to chase any moving object. The potential for biting is high, so do not run; walk away slowly.

Dogs most likely to bite:

  • Unneutered male

  • Animal tied up apart from family

  • Not properly socialized

  • Animal protecting his home or family

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    The Mr. Bugs program is possible through the support of Larry and Patricia Rodriguez in memory of Mr. Bugs, a fox terrier who gave them love, joy and companionship and chose his friends carefully.

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    Hazel

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    Angie

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    You're approaching a dog in his yard and he growls at you. What should you do?

    If you enter a dog's territory what he considers home the Hawaiian Humane Society recommends always proceeding with extreme caution, preferably only when the dog is on a leash and supervised by someone from the dog's human family.

    In some situations, almost any dog can react aggressively. That is why understanding dog behavior is important.

    Last year, 146 dog-bite cases were reported to the Hawaiian Humane Society. Nationally, the Humane Society of the United States estimates that each year 4.7 million people suffer dog bites, ranging from minor nips to major attacks.

    Understanding why dogs bite is one way to avoid being a statistic. As part of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which begins today, the Hawaiian Humane Society encourages everyone to review these important facts.

    Instinct causes a dog to defend himself, his human family and his territory. If the dog perceives a threat, he will sometimes react aggressively. A dog's size and breed have little to do with how the animal will react when frightened or cornered.

    Common human behavior can make dogs feel threatened, so you can stay safe by avoiding: yelling, towering over the dog, moving suddenly, running, screaming, and making eye contact with the dog. Teach children to never approach a strange dog, or to disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.

    What should you do if you are chased or threatened by a dog?

    Stop. Don't run or yell; do not panic; avert your eyes from the dog; face sideways and firmly tell the dog to "sit" and "go home." Place an obstacle (bicycle, bag, surfboard, or purse) between you and the dog and slowly back away to safety.

    More tips are included in the Hawaiian Humane Society's Mr. Bugs Dog Bite Prevention Program that explains dog behaviors and teaches people how to respond safely.

    People whose jobs take them door-to-door may request this free workshop developed by the Hawaiian Humane Society. The class consists of a presentation, a short video, a workbook and time for discussion. Schedule a Mr. Bugs workshop by calling 356-2222.

    Socialized dogs are usually less likely to feel threatened so are less likely to bite. The dog most likely to bite is an unneutered male that is tied up outside, apart from his human family. Sterilization is affordable through O'ahu's Neuter Now program and subsidized programs on Neighbor Islands. Bring your canine indoors and welcome him as a member of your family. Take him to training classes and dog parks, introduce him other people and dogs. Always keep your dog on a leash when outside your property.

    Call the society to request brochures on Neuter Now and how to choose a dog trainer: 356-2223, or visit www.hawaiianhumane.org.

    ADOPTABLES

    Hazel

    Tag No. 93647. Hazel's former owner had to move suddenly and hopes that this nice 2-year-old will be adopted soon. A big tabby cat with cute round face, Hazel would enjoy a quiet home without any dogs.

    Angie

    Tag No. 93703. Just a year old, Angie is still a teenager and full of fun. She is a slender, medium-size poi/pitbull mix with short brown coat. Angie loves to go for walks on the leash and enjoys obedience training.

    These particular animals may have already found homes. The Hawaiian Humane Society and McInerny Dog Park at 2700 Wai'alae Avenue are open noon to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. The incoming animals area is open 24 hours. If you've lost or found an animal, call the society immediately at 946-2187, ext. 285. See www.hawaiianhumane.org.