Fact: it's not always the dog's fault.

When a dog bites, nips, jumps, or even playfully pounces, it's easy to blame it on the dog or its owner. But let's be honest with ourselves: that's only sometimes fair.  

Dog owner or not, it's important for Idahoans to remember that dogs tend to act out from a place of fear, confusion, or the feeling that they or their loved ones are being threatened.

Imagine how many negative dog-human encounters could be prevented if more people understood this.

Like humans, dogs need their space.

Just like us, dogs have boundaries. Sometimes, it's a matter of letting them be. If, for example, a dog is basking in the sunshine on a beautiful Idaho summer day, keeping to themselves, leave 'em alone! Like humans, dogs need their downtime, too.

Plus, blindsiding a dog with your presence or demands or invading their personal space can leave them feeling cornered. This sense of vulnerability can lead to defensive behavior, such as baring their teeth, warning-like growls, or worse.

We need to teach our kids to read the signs.

It's pretty obvious when a dog is uncomfortable with someone or their environment. Growls, tucked tails, raised hackles, quivering, and shaking are all clear signs that a dog is stressed or on high alert.

That's why teaching our youngest Idahoans to pay attention to these signals is so important.


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Like their furry, four-legged friends, kids can get just as excited to see a dog as a dog is to see them. And that's okay! But sometimes, however, little ones have a hard time understanding and minding boundaries or how aggressively they may be handing a dog.

Teaching kids to approach or behave more calmly around dogs, not to pull on ears, step on tails, and avoid a dog's food and water dish can prevent so many accidents.

The younger we teach them and the more we remind them, the more we can head off unwanted reactions and dangerous scenarios for both kids and dogs.

Not every dog is friendly.

And let's be honest, neither is every human. Even if a dog appears calm, laidback, or too old to cause any real harm, we shouldn't assume they're up for hugs or petting. The best, safest practice is to ask the dog's owner for permission to interact with them before approaching or touching them.

The gallery below points out seven times Idaho dogs are legally allowed to defend themselves, their owners, and their immediate environment, as well as the one scenario where lawmakers draw the line on a dog biting a resident.

Scroll for...

  • 7 times Idaho dogs are allowed to bite a human & 1 that's inexcusable

  • 10 surprisingly dog-friendly businesses in & around the Boise area

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  • The tragic story of a Boise dog eaten alive on their home's patio

  • Rattlesnake avoidance schools & classes for Idaho dogs

7 Reasons Your Dog Can Bite Someone in Idaho & 1 That Gets Them Euthanized

No canine may be classified as high-risk or dangerous when, at the time they bite someone, the precipitating cause constitutes the following justified provocations:

Gallery Credit: Ryan Antoinette Valenzuela

10 Surprisingly Dog-Friendly Businesses Around Boise & 1 Place They're Never Allowed

Gallery Credit: Ryan Antoinette Valenzuela

Boise Family's Dog Was Eaten Alive On Their Patio

The following true story is a secondhand account of a tragedy one of our teammates suffered.

Gallery Credit: Ryan Antoinette Valenzuela

Rattlesnake Avoidance for Boise Dogs: 3 spring courses to keep them safe

Gallery Credit: Ryan

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