As dog devotees, we strive to protect our four-pawed pals from harm– from illnesses which can rob them of their health, from the dangers posed by unsupervised outdoor play…and, sometimes, from the harm which they can inflict upon others. Even the most docile dog can lash out when feeling frightened, hurt, confused or provoked, leading to a nightmare scenario for the injured party, the pet parent and their canine companion.
Each year 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs, with bites to children accounting for more than half of that upsetting statistic. As education is key to combating any crisis, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) established National Dog Bite Prevention Week.
Held each third week in May, the observation shines spotlight on actions that can be taken to prevent dog bites, such as the following tips for pet guardians from the American Humane Association:
- Never leave a child unattended with any dog, regardless of the dog’s demeanor.
- Teach children that dogs deserve respect.
- Explain to little ones that they should never play with any dog in a rough manner.
- Pet parents of puppies should teach socialization skills to their young Spot so the dog will feel more at home among other people and pets.
- Never put a dog in a situation which will make him or her feel threatened.
- Go on a constitutional with your canine companion or jog with your dog, as regular exercise will help to maintain both the physical and mental health of your barking buddy.
- Always walk your dog on a leash while in public.
- Visit your veterinarian regularly, as a dog who is ill or injured is more apt to strike out at people.
- Caution people who approach your dog. Strangers should always wait before petting any dog in order to give the canine time to familiarize themselves with the unknown person on their terms.
Children, statistically the most at risk for a dog bite, should be reminded to always abide by the following safety rules:
- Never approach any dog with whom they are unfamiliar, or any dog they may know if the dog is unaccompanied by their pet parent.
- Always ask for permission from a pet’s guardian before petting a dog.
- Do not approach any animal who shows signs of injury or illness. If a child feels that a dog requires assistance, he or she should tell an adult.
- Never approach a dog who is sleeping, eating, playing with their toy or caring for puppies.
- Never provoke a dog through teasing, poking, pinching or pulling.
The American Veterinary Medical Association offers a number of in-depth articles regarding bite prevention, ranging from reasons why Rover might bite to reading a dog’s body language. A downloadable Dog Bite Prevention brochure is also available.
Combining education with entertainment, the American Veterinary Medical Association has created several episodes of Jimmy’s Dog House, which highlights some of the actions to avoid when associating with a dog:
You’ll also find some very interesting statistics on dog bites in this infographic which brings home the importance of preventing dog bites year around!
Infographic Courtesy Of UltimateHomeLife.com