Prevent Dog Bites Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

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Prevent Dog Bites Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

by Dennis Fetko

What is the truth in the saying, ?Let sleeping dogs lie?? In common usage, this saying refers to not restarting old conflicts. In reality, if a sleeping dog is awakened abruptly, he can bite a person before he's even awake!

If a dog is asleep or in the twilight stage between wake and sleep and something stimulates him?a touch or someone petting his body?he can react for several seconds before he is technically awake.

As part of their survival tools, dogs have very active defense reflexes. In the wild they don?t have the luxury of slow-waking. When they are asleep they are the most vulnerable to attack.

So when a sleeping dog is awaked by a child petting him or someone walking by noisily, he can react so suddenly that the person who provided the stimulation may be vigorously bitten more than once--even before the dog is clinically awake.

All animals have defense reflexes. If someone starts to poke you in the eye, you will not think, ?I should blink??you will just automatically blink. This is the case when the sleeping dog is awakened?his defense reflex is automatically triggered and he bites without even knowing he's doing it.

If a dog bites out of reflex and then you or some other responsible party punishes him, this is usually not effective. The dog literally may not know why you are so upset because he may have no memory of the attack since it was a reflex before he was fully awake.

Many dog bites to family members?especially children?occur when a sleeping dog is disturbed. And, sadly, dogs are even euthanized for biting when they have been awakened.

If you have young children in your home, it is wise to research which breeds have more active reflexes and may be more prone to biting a person who wakes them. And be sure that very young children do not have access to sleeping dogs and that older children know that they should ?let sleeping dogs lie?.

The author, Dennis Fetko, Ph.D., "Dr. Dog" is a world-reknown animal behaviorist whose accomplishments range from appearing on the 20/20 television show and managing the reintroduction of captive-bred Arabian Oryx into the Saudi Arabian National Wildlife Research Center to making a presentation at the South American Veterinary Congress. Dr. Fetko's audios and ebooks detail his fast, easy--and even fun--methods to eliminate your dog's behavior problems. Learn more at

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