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Learn the Six Levels of a Dog-Bite
Aggression is a survival skill required of all canines. Dogs bite for many reasons. Over the past two decades it has become “trendy” among dog trainers and behaviorists to try to solve and eliminate dog aggression. A typical definition of “bite” is “to bite with the teeth to penetrate, grip or injure.”
To assess the degree of severity, Dr. Ian Dunbar created this chart/guideline of bite “levels”.
Level 1: This bite does not touch the skin. The dog is biting or snapping.
Level 2: This bite makes contact with the skin, but does not break the skin. Pain and bruising may result, but no abrasion will be visible.
Level 3: This bite ranges from one to three stings in one bite and one sting less than ½ the depth of the eye tooth (fang) with or without some tears.
Level 4: The dog is putting a lot of pressure on the bite. 1 to 4 puncture wounds with or without tears, more than ½ depth of eye tooth. This is usually accompanied by bruising and likely to require medical attention. These injuries suggest the dog grabbed and shook what was in its mouth.
Level 5: Multiple level 4 bites. This dog is usually beyond the ability to reason and can feel him/her
life is threatened.
Level 6: The dog kills.
Biting can also be caused when the dog is very excited / excited when chasing people on a fence line or from a leash / chain. This is called “barrier frustration” and it can (and does) happen often even though most dogs don’t bite. Bites usually occur when the dog’s owner/handler tries to physically control the dog. The dog is so excited, that it indiscriminately bites the person. This is called “displacement aggression” and it is quite common.
Most large powerful breeds can cause more serious injuries than small dogs. Keep in mind that it is mixed breeds and not purebred dogs are the type of dog that is most often involved in bite injuries to people.
Some warning signs of possible aggression and biting include:
o Any health changes or long-term health problems
o Anxious or hyperactive behavior (fear of new or certain people or places)
o Biting or a history of biting (past behavior is a predictor or future behavior)
o New behavioral changes (sudden obstinacy)
o Obsessive fence/nest run/chase
o Serious separation problems
o Does not control people or dogs while on leash
Most dogs with Level 6 and Level 5 bite injuries are euthanized. Level 3 and 4 biters need serious behavior modification to remove any further risk. Level 1 and 2 bites should also be helped with relative ease with the guidance of a behavioral consultant.
However, if your dog trains obedience, maintains a social life (regularly comes out of the house and yard), is spayed or neutered, healthy and is female, your dog is less likely to bite. But that doesn’t mean it won’t. After all, anything with teeth can bite!
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