Did you know that this week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week? Its goal is to promote awareness about dog behavior and dog body language, as those elements are key factors in understanding a dog’s intentions, and ultimately in preventing a dog bite from happening.
There are about 70 million dogs in US households, and 4.5 million people get bitten by dogs in the US every year ~ 1 out of 5 dog bite victims require medical attention. Children, Seniors, as well as Postal Employees are the most commonly bitten.
Side note: ANY dog can bite, regardless of breed, size, & age. ANY dog who has pent-up energy and/or feels threatened can release her frustration/fear in a bite, whether she is a Beagle, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Chihuahua, German Shorthaired Pointer, Belgian Malinois, or American Pit Bull Terrier.
How To Prevent Dog Bites
In order to prevent dog bites, here’s what needs to be done: Dog Owners need to act responsibly and properly socialize and train their dogs.
Children need to be taught how to properly and safely interact with dogs. Teach them to NEVER run up to a strange dog, which I have personally witnessed a number of times!
I’ve also experienced kids immediately reaching out to pet our dogs when we happened to walk past them ~ that’s never a good idea as most dogs don’t appreciate being approached and touched by a stranger! Teach your kids to always ask for permission before petting a dog.
Never invade a dog’s personal space & don’t hug her, especially a dog you don’t know. From a dog’s perspective, this is an extremely rude and aggressive approach!! Also never stare into a dog’s eyes, and do not touch the dog!
Picture courtesy of delcospca.org
Let the dog approach you on her own terms, and give you a good sniff. She will let you know if and when she is ready to be petted.
A word of advice: Dogs do not particularly like to be petted on their heads. This is a common human misconception. It is actually also viewed as a dominant gesture. Pet their shoulders or chests instead!
Little Josie knows Missy loves being petted on her chest!
ALWAYS supervise dog-kid interaction! We recently watched a friends’ 6 & 9 year old kids for a few days, and although they are familiar with our pups & our pups are gentle with them, I still didn’t take any chances as far as supervision was concerned!
I took the pups along to the bathroom with me whenever I had to go, in order to not leave the pups & kiddos unsupervised while alone. Better safe than sorry!
Also properly exercise your dog and ensure that the pup doesn’t have any pent-up energy and is mentally balanced.
Socialize, socialize, socialize. A fearful dog is much more likely to develop anxiety around strangers and potentially bite them than a well socialized dog who has been introduced to a large variety of friendly people.
Need some ideas on how to socialize your dog? Check out my articles about dog socialization below:
Have you actively witnessed a dog biting someone? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!