May 20th-26th Is Dog Bite Prevention Week

As I mentioned in my National Pet Week post, owning a pet comes with great responsibilities. Dog Bite Prevention Week is devoted to one of the more important of those responsibilities: avoiding dog bites.

Proper dog training and socializing starts at home, but even those who do not own dogs should have the knowledge and education to avoid dog bites.

First, some dog bite facts:

– 4.7 million people in this country are bitten by dogs every year

– Children are by far the most common victims

– 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites each year

– Children are far more likely to be severely injured; approximately 400,000 receive medical attention every year

– Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs

– Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims

We often hear that knowledge is power, and this is couldn’t be truer when it comes to acting and reacting properly around a dog.

dog bite prevention week 2012

Bottom line, dogs are animals – no matter how domesticated and friendly they may seem. They are creatures that act on instinct when under stress and quite possibly have the ability to kill you.

There are several things we can do – whether we own dogs or not – to help prevent dog bites. Below are some tips I found on the American Veterinary Medical Association website.

Dog Owners

– 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.

– 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.

– 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.

– Neuter your pet.

– If you have a fenced yard, make sure the gates are secure.

How can you protect your family?

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.

dog bite prevention week

Even though dogs do not speak our language, they do give us physical signs as to how they are feeling. Understanding what a dog’s stance means or what their tail is trying to tell us can help in our objective of avoiding a dog bite.

This Dog Bite Prevention Week, spend some time getting to know dogs, how to understand them better, and how to not to get bitten.

Dogs are wonderful to have around and include in family activities, just be sure to always be aware of their mood and surroundings.

dog fear anxiety poster
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