“Duz Yur Dawg Bite?”
According to the CDC, more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Approximately 800,000 require professional medical treatment. Dog bite rates are higher for children ages 5-9 years and due to their size, injuries most often occur to the head and neck. The good news is that dog bites are completely preventable through responsible pet ownership and a little common sense.
1. Do your homework. Research the breeds you are interested in prior to buying or adopting. Consult with your veterinarian, an experienced trainer, and a knowledgeable breeder to make sure that the dog you are selecting is a good fit for your living situation.
If possible, spend time with your dog before adopting it.
2. Properly socialize your new puppy. Expose your dog to all types of people – male, female, young, adult etc. Once your puppy has had 2 sets of vaccines you can begin allowing her to interact with other dogs outside of your household.
3. Never play aggressive games with your dog. Examples include tug-of-war, play biting, etc. These games are cute and fun with tiny puppies but can become a problem later when that puppy is a larger, stronger adult.
4. Never adopt a dog with a history of aggression if you have children in your household.
5. Spay and neuter! Surgical sterilization greatly reduces hormonally driven territorial behaviors and associated aggression.
6. Teach your dog submissive behavior – seek a professional trainer if necessary. Use one of the newer “head collars” or “halters” for training—they are great!
7. Never approach an unfamiliar dog – even a non-aggressive dog may bite if he feels cornered or trapped in an unfamiliar situation.
8. Never disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
9. Educate children on how to behave around dogs:
a. Never run from or scream if a dog gives chase.
b. Curl into a tight ball, protecting the head, face and neck if attacked.
c. Always allow a dog to sniff the hand before petting him—approach the dog from under the chin, not over the head.
d. Avoid direct eye contact.
10. ALWAYS report dog bites!
Remember that responsible pet ownership is the key to preventing dog bites – nearly 80% of dog bites are inflicted by a household or a neighbor’s pet. The burden of responsibility lies solely with the owner. Proper training and restraint will greatly reduce the chances of your dog biting a human and ensuring a good quality of life for both you and your dog.