By Rikki Cheese, news anchor for KTNV, Channel 13

“My dog doesn’t bite.” I am amazed when someone approaches me with a dog either the same size as mine or smaller and utters those words. I am stunned when adults allow small children to approach a huge Akita. Then there are people who lean over and put their faces right up to my dogs’ muzzles, pat them on their heads and become disappointed when my Akitas don’t respond and lick them with joyful, Labrador love. A recent incident illustrates the care that people need to take when encountering any dog that is not their own.

My veterinarian has a huge lobby. At Akira’s most recent visit, I was elated to see that one side was almost empty. There were three women, and two had tiny dogs sitting in their laps.

I sat three chairs away from the woman who didn’t have a dog, and felt relief when my Akira immediately laid down and rested her head on the floor. I got on my phone.

The next thing I knew, without saying a word, the woman who didn’t have a dog got up and started leaning over Akira.

“Excuse me?” I wasn’t asking a question. It was more of an irritated snap.

She replied, “Oh. I’m sorry. I guess I should have asked.” The woman was tiny. Akira weighed more than she did. I was concerned for her safety. Big dog owners have a big responsibility. Little dog owners also have a big responsibility. All dog owners need to watch out for the safety of their pets as well as any person or other animal they encounter.

I am a huge advocate for training. My Akitas are usually in some kind of class, and it keeps them socialized. As an owner, I learn how to teach my dogs to behave under different circumstances. I also learn the body language that could be a sign of trouble that could lead either a dog or a person to get bitten. When Akira is tired, she stiffens up, and Apollo becomes overstimulated when tired. When I see this, I get them away from people and other dogs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million dog bites happen every year in the United States. Children are most likely to be the victims. Frequently, careless or oblivious owners are to blame.

Dogs in public in Clark County must be leashed at all times, except in a leash-free dog park. Off-leash dogs can create tremendous problems for owners who keep their dogs leashed. A strange dog approaching, often at a high rate of speed, may be perceived as a threat by your dog.

“Do not run. That almost guarantees the dog will chase and attempt to bite you.”

Always ask the owner for permission before approaching a dog. Ask if it’s OK to pet the dog. Akira doesn’t really like being touched. Apollo thinks it’s the greatest thing.

Here are tips if you are approached by a strange dog without the owner. First, don’t make eye contact or yell and scream. Speak in a deep voice and order the dog to stay away. Do not run. That almost guarantees the dog will chase and attempt to bite you. If the dog does attack, don’t panic. Curl up on the ground, stay still and wait for the dog to walk away. Any dog is capable of biting if they are hurt, tired, frightened or feel threatened.

The words, “my dog doesn’t bite” can be answered with two words.

“Not yet.”

Rikki Cheese
Rikki Cheese
Rikki Cheese co-hosts Valley View Live weekdays from 2 to 3 p.m., Action News Live from 3 to 4 p.m. and anchors live updates on Action News at 5, 6 and 6:30 p.m. Contact her by email at and follow on Twitter and Instagram.