It’s National Dog Bit Prevention Week (May 18-24), and while we’re focused the topic right now, it’s one that responsible dog owners must think about every single day. Did you know:
- Every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children.
- 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.
- Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention.
It is very important to remember that any dog can bite. Biting is not breed-specific, and doesn’t just happen with dogs you’re unfamiliar with. Your own pet, perhaps a normally mild-mannered poodle who loves children and other animals, may very well bite as a reaction to something if she is startled, scared, not feeling well, or engaged in play.
When I was a tween, I saw my small dog in an altercation with a neighbor’s small dog. Determined to break it up, I got between the two dogs. The result was a bite, and guess who the perpetrator was? My own normally loving, affectionate dog. To say my feelings were hurt is an understatement, but I learned that day that even the best dog can be unpredictable in certain situations.
Believing that your dog (or any dog) won’t bite is a foolish mistake that is easily avoided. These are just a few tips that can make a difference:
- Spay or neuter your dog. This is not only the healthy option for the dog, but may also lessen the chances of a biting incident.
- Don’t put your dog in a situation where it feels threatened or teased. Insisting that children treat your dog with respect will lessen the likelihood of the pet becoming agitated and responding with a bite.
- Make sure your pet is properly socialized. From an early age, your dog should be given the opportunity to interact with other people, children, and pets. Getting her comfortable in settings outside of your home will lessen her anxiety in those situations.
- Keep your dog up-to-date on vaccinations and use flea/tick/heartworm prevention. A healthy pet is less likely to engage in aggressive behavior.
- Always, always, always keep your dog on a leash when you are in public situation.
- Learning to recognize your dog’s body language will help you to know when she’s uncomfortable or anxious and the chances of an incident are more likely to occur.
Basically, it’s as simple as being a responsible dog owner.
This infographic gives some great information about dog bites. Take a look, and then we’ll chat some more below.
The truth is, any dog has the potential to bite, depending on the circumstances. Protect yourself and your pet by understanding that and knowing that you cannot rely on biased breed-specific thinking like, “all Golden Retrievers are great with kids” or “Pit Bulls can’t be trusted”. Every dog in the world is an individual with its own personality, its own fears, and its own way of reacting in certain situations. Believing you can predict a dog’s behavior based on its breed is narrow-minded, uninformed, and extremely dangerous for both you and the dog. It’s also why breed-specific legislation (BSL) doesn’t work.
Will you help me raise awareness about dog bite prevention? It’s as simple as using the buttons at the bottom of this post to share it with your friends and family.