National Dog Bite Prevention Week
May 20 - 26, 2012
This week (May 20 - 26) is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, so please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with important facts and safety recommendations, both for you and your family as potential dog bite victims, but also as a dog owner. Keep in mind that all dogs have their own personality and can be unpredictable at times, regardless of breed. Although the more aggressive breeds, such as pit bulls, garner most of the news coverage, a small breed can be just as likely to bite, depending on the circumstances.
Some dogs can appear to be innocent and playful:
While others can seem downright sneaky:
But you can never really be sure of what they are thinking:
Here is some important safety information, to help protect your family from dog bites, but also if you are a dog owner (courtesy of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention).
Tips For Keeping Your Kids Safe
- Be cautious around strange dogs, and treat your own pet with respect. Because children are the most common victims of dog bites, parents and caregivers should:
- NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
- Be alert for potentially dangerous situations.
- Teach their children – including toddlers – to be careful around pets. Children must learn not to approach strange dogs or try to pet dogs through fences. Teach children to ask permission from the dog's owner before petting the dog.
- Never come near a dog you don’t know – especially if it is tethered to something, behind a fence or confined in a car.
- Don’t ever play with a dog without adult supervision.
- Never disturb a sleeping dog, or one who is eating or caring for puppies.
- Don’t chase or tease a dog.
- Always ask a dog’s owner if it’s OK to pet a dog.
- Never pet or touch a dog before it has a chance to see and sniff you.
- Don’t ever turn away and run from a dog, and don’t scream.
- Instead, remain still: stand without moving with your hands at your sides. Don’t make eye contact with a dog. If you sense it’s about to attack, find something to put between you and the animal such as a backpack or blanket.
- If a dog knocks you down, curl your body into a ball and put your hands over your face. Get help immediately.
Tips For Dog Owners
Like all types of insurance claims, the best kind of dog bite to have is the one that never occurs, so focus first on prevention.
- Carefully select your pet. Puppies should not be obtained on impulse.
- Make sure your pet is socialized as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
- Don't put your dog in a position where it feels threatened or teased.
- Properly socialize and train your dog. The basic commands "sit," "stay," "no," and "come" help dogs understand what is expected of them and can be incorporated into fun activities that build a bond of trust between pets and people. Teach the dog submissive behaviors such as rolling over to expose its abdomen and relinquishing food without growling.
- Walk and exercise your dog regularly to keep it healthy and provide mental stimulation.
- Avoid highly excitable games like wrestling or tug-of-war.
- Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog.
- Keep your dog healthy. Have your dog vaccinated against rabies and preventable infectious diseases. Parasite control and other health care are important because how your dog feels affects how it behaves.
- If you have a fenced yard, make sure the gates are secure.
- Dogs who spend a lot of time alone or chained up can become dangerous. Dogs who are well-socialized and supervised are much less likely to bite. To help prevent dog bites, make your dog part of your family.
- Dogs with a history of aggression are not appropriate for households with children.
- Use caution when bringing a dog or puppy into the home of an infant or toddler. Never, ever leave infants or young children alone with any dog.
- If your child seems fearful or apprehensive about having a dog, it is probably wise to delay bringing one into your home.
- Spay or neuter your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to roam and to bite.
Unfortunately, it isn't always possible to prevent a dog bite, so if your dog bites someone, please, please act responsibly and follow these steps:
If Your Dog Does Bite, Take Responsible Actions
- Confine your dog immediately. Check on the victim and seek medical attention.
- Provide the victim with important information, such as the date of your dog’s last rabies vaccination. Without a current rabies vaccination on record, your dog likely faces a quarantine.
- Cooperate with the animal control official. Strictly follow any quarantine requirements.
- Seek professional help to prevent your dog from biting again. Consult with your veterinarian, who may refer you to an animal behaviorist or a dog trainer. Your community animal control agency or humane society may also offer helpful services.