Yesterday, while breaking up a scrap between two large dogs, I noticed blood running down my wrist. The bite wasn’t bad at all, but even a minor bite can (and WILL) get infected. As a dog trainer, you will get bitten one of these days. With most minor wounds, if you practice the self-care procedures listed below, expect a quick recovery. If your face is hanging off, go to the emergency room!
Your initial concerns after getting bit:
- Make sure all dogs are safe, then worry about yourself. (A little bleeding is good to help cleanse the wound.)
- Put pressure on the wound and elevate. Bruising and swelling cause most of the pain in a dog bite.
- After you stop the bleeding, use ice to keep the swelling down.
The above three steps are well-known. Now here comes the true Dog Man wisdom. Healing a dog bite is like healing a behavior problem, you should do it from the inside out.
Most have heard the expression “Band-Aid solution,” which is a solution that only addresses the surface issues, and leaves deeper trauma hidden where it can fester. When we work with behavior problems, we should make every attempt to heal the problem from its cause. Not just stopping the behavior but also working at neutralizing what causes the problem. For example, if a dog is snapping at people because it is fearful, no good will be done when you correct the behavior unless you are running a confidence building routine concurrently.
To work from the inside out with a behavior problem means to find what triggers the problem, and begin to neutralize that trigger. (Most likely a set of triggers since associations usually come in packages.)
So, always work from the inside out with puncture wounds and behavior problems.
The Bay Area Dog Trainers low-cost recipe to help heal dog bites on your hands or feet:
- Wash the wound with soap and water.
- Run hot tap water into a large bowl. Make the water as hot as you can stand it (and hotter!), squirt an ample amount of dish soap on your hand and in the water.
- Soak your hand until it turns pruney (15 minutes will usually do it).
- Rinse and repeat at least twice a day, but 4x per day is better.
- Cover the wound as best you can. I use a bit of sterile gauze and Duct or Masking tape. (you want the wound to stay pruney for a few days.)
In order to heal the wound from the inside out you should keep the surface from drying up and scabbing over. That is what the hot soapy water 4 times a day will do. I have recovered from many minor puncture wounds using this technique.
More on getting to the root of behavior problems in later articles
Check out this video featuring a song by Bay Area musician Mokai Blue. The video itself is a tribute to the friends, family, clients, trainers, artists, and dog’s that make Saint Roch’s possible.