Dog Bite Prevention: 3 Things You Should Know

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 4.5 million dog bites occur in the U.S every single year. The majority of dog bite victims are children. In addition, children are most often bitten during everyday interaction with dogs that they know. As responsible pet owners, and to those who are parents to small children, it is important to take every preventative measure possible to keep anyone from being harmed.

Our dogs bring so much joy and happiness to our lives, and we want to keep it that way. Therefore, we have compiled a list of three things that everyone should know to help prevent dog bites.

 

1 - Prevent YOUR Dog from Biting

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that your dog will never try to bite someone. However, as a dog owner, there are precautions you should take that greatly reduce the risk.

  • Spay or Neuter: This procedure has many benefits for your dog's health. It also greatly reduces his/her desire to roam and, arguably, his/her desire to fight. Be sure to do it young to keep your puppy from developing bad habits.
  • Socialize: This should ideally begin when your dog is young (like the one on the right!). Exposing puppies to as many people and situations as possible will help them be comfortable in any environment and startle less easily. Think about adults, other dogs, children of all ages, skateboards, bikes, cars, buses, escalators, and wheelchairs, among other things.
  • Train: Professional obedience training classes can be a great controlled environment for your dog to begin to socialize. You'll also learn basic techniques to help control Fido's behavior.

 

2 - What to do if You're Attacked by a Dog

It's important to pay attention to a dog’s body language. If a dog is exhibiting any warning signs in his/her body language, you should create a safe distance between you and the dog. However, it's important to resist the urge to turn your back and run away.

What to do if you think a dog may attack:

  • Remain motionless, hands at your side, and avoid eye contact.
  • Once s/he loses interest, slowly back away until out of sight.
  • If the dog does attack, “feed” him a purse, jacket, or anything that you can put in between the two of you.
  • If you end up on the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your head.

 

3 - How to Approach a Dog

These tips are important for everyone - adults and children alike:

  • Always ask permission from the owner before approaching a dog, particularly if the dog is tied up.
  • Never attempt to pat a dog who is eating, is sleeping, or has a toy.
  • Do not approach face to face. Dogs generally do not like the idea of being “watched," so do not look directly in the eyes.
  • Let the dog approach you first, if possible. This will let the dog know that you are not a threat.
  • Do not make threatening or fast movements.
  • Pet the correct way: Do not pet on top of the head or over the head. Instead, approach from the bottom or side; pet under his chin, chest area, and sides

 

Remember, any dog can bite, but knowing what to do can greatly reduce your risk of actually being bitten. As good pet parents, we should also be diligent in our efforts to train, socialize, and spay/neuter our dogs.  And if you have any questions about your dog's behavior or health, please contact us!

 

This blog post originally appeared on The Drake Center and has been adapted with permission for reposting.

 

 

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