With over 4.5 million people being bitten by dogs each year, one every 75 seconds, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) established the third week in May as National Dog Bite Prevention Week. It’s a good time to learn how to prevent being a victim of a dog bite or keeping your dog from inflicting a bite on someone else.

It Can Happen to Anyone

We’d like to think that our dog could never bite or attack another dog or human being, but even the most mellow pups can lash out if they feel intimidated, frightened, confused or provoked – all leading to an incident which can lead to disastrous outcomes for the pet, the injured person and the pet’s owner.

Out of the 4.5 million people that are bitten, about 20% need medical care. That’s about 1,000 bite victims per day! Of the injuries that result in death, about 60% were caused by non-family dogs and 71% occurred on the dog owner’s property. Males tended to be the most predominant victims in both adults and children.

Ways to Prevent Dog Bites

As responsible pet parents, it’s important that we educate ourselves and our children on ways to avoid these incidents. So, what can we do?

  • Always walk your dog on a leash in public places and roadways
  • Teach your children how to show respect for your dog and others’ dogs
  • Never leave your children, or visiting children, alone with a dog
  • Explain and demonstrate how to pet and play with a dog gently, not roughly
  • Punish your children if they tease, poke, pinch or pull at your dog
  • Teach your children the times NOT to play with a dog:  when they are sleeping, playing with a toy, eating or caring for their puppies
  • Socialize your young dog so they feel comfortable around other dogs and people
  • Be mindful of threatening situations for your dog, and never allow them to happen
  • Schedule regular visits to the vet – dogs that are sick or injured are more likely to lash out
  • Control strangers wanting to approach your dog – give your dog time to acclimate to this new stranger and hold your dog’s collar as they approach
  • In reverse, teach your children not to approach dogs that are unaccompanied by their pet parent
  • Teach them to always ask permission first before approaching this new dog
  • Avoid interaction with any animal that looks injured or sick; contact an animal control professional instead

Tools to Help Educate

The AVMA has more in-depth articles and tools on their website, including a brochure “What You Should Know About Dog Bite Prevention" and a coloring book to help engage your children while teaching them the importance of bite prevention.

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