Every year, there are approximately 5 million people bitten by dogs. The American Veterinary Medical Association has joined with the United States Postal Service and the American Academy of Pediatrics to help prevent dog bites. According to the CDC, each year as many as 800,000 people, more than half of them children, require medical attention for dog bites and more than a dozen people, most of them small children, die from dog bite injuries.
The good news is that most dog bites can be prevented. Whether you own a dog or have children, here are some dog bite prevention tips to help keep everyone safer. Dogs that spend a lot of time alone or chained up can become dangerous. A well socialized and supervised pet is less likely to bite. To help prevent dog bites, make your dog part of your family.
How to Avoid Dog Bites
Teaching Your Children Basic Dog Safety
- Never approach an unfamiliar dog, especially one who’s tied or confined behind a fence or in a car.
- Never turn your back and run away from a dog. Don’t scream.
- Be Still Like a Tree: When approached by an unfamiliar dog, remain motionless with your hands at your sides.
- Be Still Like a Log: If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still with your hands over your ears.
- Never play with an unfamiliar dog unless supervised by an adult.
- Do not tease or chase an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
- Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
- If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.
Tips for Dog Owners
- Dogs with a history of aggression are not appropriate for households with children.
- If your child seems fearful or apprehensive about dogs you may want to wait to introduce a dog into the household until they are over the fear.
- Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it.
- Use caution when bringing a dog or puppy into the home of an infant or toddler. Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog.
- Spay or neuter your dog; this frequently reduces aggressive tendencies.
- Properly socialize and train your dog. Teach the dog submissive behaviors such as rolling over to expose its abdomen, and taking food without growling.
If Your Dog Does Bite, Take Responsible Action
- 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.
- Cooperate with the animal control officer (ACO). Strictly follow any quarantine requirements.
- Seek professional help to prevent your dog from biting again. Consult your veterinarian, who may refer you to an animal behaviorist or a dog trainer. Your community ACO or Humane Society may also offer helpful services.