By Ashley Watson
This week is dog bite prevention week. According to the AVMA, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs every year. One out of five of those need medical attention, and at least half of those are children. The AVMA also reports that children bitten by dogs usually happen with familiar dogs and while doing normal, everyday activities. Dog bite prevention is an important part of being a dog owner and even for people who don’t have dogs but have children who play with dogs. This, week, we’re recapping some of the tips from the AVMA website so that you can share with clients.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
While there are many things you can do to avoid dog bites, first you must understand why they bite. Even the calmest dog can bite if provoked. Dogs bite when they are stressed, defending their territory, feel scared or threatened, or even if they don’t feel well or have an injury.
Dogs also might nip and bite during play. Even though nipping during play might be fun for the dog, it can be dangerous for people. It’s a good idea to avoid wrestling or playing tug-of-war with your dog. These types of activities can make your dog overly excited, which may lead to a nip or a bite.
Socialization is a good way to help prevent your dog from biting because it helps your dog feel at ease in different situations. By introducing your dog to people and other animals while it’s a puppy, it feels more comfortable in different situations as it gets older. It’s also important to use a leash in public to make sure that you are able to control your dog.
Educating yourself and the children you know on how, or if, they should approach a dog is also very important when it comes to preventing dog bites. Information is one of the best ways to prevent dog bites. You never know when you might encounter a risky situation with a dog, regardless of whether that dog is known or unknown to you.
It’s important to know how to avoid escalating risky situations and to understand when you should and should not interact with dogs.
Here are the AVMA’s top ten scenarios to avoid:
- If the dog is not with its owner.
- If the dog is with its owner but the owner does not give permission to pet the dog.
- If the dog is on the other side of a fence, don’t reach through or over a fence to pet the dog.
- If a dog is sleeping or eating.
- If a dog is sick or injured.
- If a dog is resting with her puppies or seems very protective of her puppies and anxious about your presence.
- If a dog is playing with a toy.
- If the dog is a service dog. Service dogs are working animals and shouldn’t be distracted while they are doing their jobs.
- If the dog is growling or barking.
- If the dog appears to be hiding or seeking time alone in its special place.
Teach Children How to Behave Around Dogs
When you’re teaching children about dog bite prevention and how to be safe around dogs, keep it simple. Discuss animals, how we relate to them, and the role of animals in your family, not just how to avoid being bitten. If you have younger children, always supervise them around dogs and be mindful of how the child interacts with the dog so they learn to be gentle from the beginning.
We hope these tips have helped give you the tools you need to educate dog owners and people who encounter dogs about dog bite prevention. Look for more tips on Facebook.