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 avoid anyone from being harmed.
Our dogs bring so much joy and happiness to our lives, but it’s easy to see that this a real issue in our country. In fact, many vets have noticed an increase in dog bites since the pandemic began due to lack of socialization of their dogs outside the family. As veterinarians, we see the heartbreak that is associated with this horrible situation, so 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 their desire to roam and, arguably, their desire to fight
Socialize: This should ideally begin when your dog is a puppy. Exposing them 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.
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 their behavior.
2 - What to do if You are Attacked by a Dog
It is important to pay attention to a dog’s behavior and body language. If they are exhibiting any warning signs in their body language, you should create a safe distance between you and the dog. However, it is 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 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 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. 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; pet under his chin, chest area, and sides
Remember, any dog can bite, but knowing what to do can greatly reduce your risk of being injured. As good pet parents, we should also be diligent in our efforts to train, socialize, and spay/neuter our dogs. You should also make sure your dog is fully vaccinated, as even a relatively minor dog bite could turn into something much worse if you're not up to date on your vaccines.
If you have any questions about your dog's behavior or health, please contact your vet. Don't have one yet? We can help you find a local veterinarian!