Dog Bite Prevention
Dog Bite Prevention Week
Truthfully, every day needs to be about dog bite prevention.
- Most dog bites occur during every day activities and with familiar dogs.
- Children are the most common victims.
- Bites can be unprovoked, but we play a role in many cases. It’s about 50/50 for cases seen in an ER.
- Dog breed alone is not a good predictor of aggressive behavior. Any breed can bite. Any dog can bite.
Our Recommendations for Your Family and Home
Never leave infants, toddlers, or young children alone with any dog—including your own.
Always be present (with your eyes on them) when young children and dogs are sharing the same space–even the routine moments.
Socialize your dog. Especially as a puppy and keep it up over the lifespan. Socialize? Expose them to as many different people, places, and things as possible. Well-socialized puppies are less likely to have behavioral issues down the road.
Learn dog body language signals. Dogs will often give us a signal they are uncomfortable. We are either not aware, misinterpret, or not paying attention to what dogs are telling us.
Teach your kids responsible dog handling. Ears and tails are not for pulling. Don’t sit on your dog or play rough with your dog. Taunting games, like keep away or tug-of-war, can be hard for dogs to interpret our intentions. Play with your dog; just don’t set up a high-risk situation.
Never disturb a dog when eating, drinking, or sleeping.
Be careful when taking toys away from a dog. (Ideally, you want to be able to take away a toy from your dog, but don’t set yourself up if your dog doesn’t always agree.)
If your dog is sick or not feeling well, give them space. Injured dogs may not be on their best behavior. Trust us, we know.
Be careful when grabbing a dog by the collar. Also, watch when you lean over (e.g., bending at the waist) to pet a dog’s head. When we do those things, our body language can come across as scary or intimidating even though our intent is to be friendly.
Not all dogs like to be hugged or patted on top of the head. Find other ways to show affection to your pet. Try the shoulders, chest, back, under the chin or armpit areas.
Don’t force contact or pets on your dog. We may love them, but they may not love us. And that’s okay.
Our Recommendations for Unfamiliar Dogs
Teach your kids (and yourself) how to approach an unfamiliar dog. Most of us do this incorrectly!
Always ask the owner for permission to a pet a dog you don’t know. Take any hesitation on their part as a “no”. Some owners may find it awkward to say “No, please don’t pet my dog.”
And if you are an owner of a dog who shouldn’t be approached or petted, speak up! Even if a person on the street doesn’t ask, YOU are in charge of you and your dog. A simple statement of “Please don’t pet my dog right now. We are training how to be polite around others.”
Parents, you model this behavior for your children whether you realize it or not. Make a direct effort to talk with your kids about the rules for petting dogs before the situation arrives. When it does happen, walk them through what to do and not do. Repeat this often for them.
If you have a fearful dog or reactive dog, please educate yourself and work with your dog to correct this. It isn’t always easy, but it isn’t impossible. And it will dramatically improve your dog’s life.
Work with a trained behaviorist to re-teach your dog how life can work better for them.
Want to Read More on Dog Bite Prevention?
We have plenty of options to choose from!
Literature Review from AVMA on Dog Aggression
A Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention
Dog Bite Prevention Coloring Book (even if your kids don’t color, it has great messages to talk about with them)