It’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week, and Advertiser Priceless Pet Clinic has some tips:
Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs.
Almost 1 in 5 (800,000) people bitten by dogs require medical attention; at least half of them are children.
Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.
Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims.
Letter carriers and delivery drivers are frequent victims
Big or small, male or female, young or old, any dog can bite. Even the most well tempered dog can bite under the right circumstances. Certain breeds receive more attention than others, but this does not guarantee either danger or safety. It has been my experience that small breed dogs are much more likely to bite than large breed dogs. Small breed dogs don’t receive the same attention as large breed dogs because the severity of the bites tend to be less damaging or life threatening. There are breed predilections to be aware of, but the environment and training are equally important.
Dogs bite as a reaction to something. If the dog finds itself in a stressful situation, it may bite to defend itself or its territory.Dogs can bite because they are scared or have been startled. They can bite because they feel threatened. They can bite to protect something that is valuable to them, like their puppies, their food or a toy.Dogs might bite because they aren’t feeling well. They could be sick or painful due to injury or illness.
One of the more common situations I’ve seen are when owners are injured while trying to break up a fight between dogs playing together. Off leash parks are becoming more and more popular and can be great places for dogs to get exercise. The draw back is, these are very common places for dog fights. I have seen countless injuries that took place in these semi-controlled environments. Owner’s are often injured trying to separate dogs or trying to protect their own pet. Lots of bites to owners occur by their own pet after the fight because the pet is scared or painful. Bite wounds are some of the worst injuries to deal with from a medical standpoint. What appears to be a small bite, can have severe crushing injury below the surface of the skin. Big dog, little dog fights are very common and often result in tragic consequences.
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.
If the dog is not with its owner stay away.
If the dog is with its owner but the owner does not give permission to pet the dog, or the owner does not have control of the dog with a leash.
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. Call your local animal control agency, or the police department
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 escape.
There are additional steps to prevent dog bites that should be observed.
Make sure your pet is socialized as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals. Gradually expose your puppy to a variety of situations under controlled circumstances; continue that exposure on a regular basis as your dog gets older. Don’t put your dog in a position where it may feel threatened or teased.
Never leave your child alone with a dog. Some suggest waiting until your child is older (Over 4 years of age) because so many dog bite injuries happen to young children.
Train your dog. The basic commands “sit,” “stay,” “no,” and “come” can be incorporated into fun activities that build a bond of obedience and trust between pets and people. Avoid highly excitable games like wrestling or tug-of- war. Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog.
Keep your dog healthy. Have your dog vaccinated against rabies and preventable infectious diseases. Parasite control and overall health care are important because how your dog feels directly affects how it behaves.
Neuter your pet. The available science suggests neutered dogs may be less likely to bite, roam, etc.
Be alert to your pet’s behavior, changes in health, attitude, etc. We hear the statement “he/she’s never bitten before” all the time. Though you know your pet better than anyone else and they may not bite you, does not mean they can’t or won’t bite.
Be a responsible pet owner. License your dog with your community as required. Obey leash laws. If you have a fenced yard, make sure the gates are secure. Dogs are social animals; spending time with your pet is important. Dogs that are frequently left alone have a greater chance of developing behavioral problems. Walk and exercise your dog regularly to keep it healthy and provide mental stimulation. Links to the local licensing agencies are below.