Loyal as they are, dog bites account for nearly 4.7 million injuries each year in the United States. One out of every five bites requires serious medical attention, and some even require reconstructive surgery. Children and the elderly are the most common victims of dog bites, and almost all dog bites are sadly preventable.
Most dog bites are not from strays or strangers, but from loyal pets, aggravated or injured by careless activity from their owners. Dogs tend to bite when they feel threatened, and unfortunately children are often bitten on their face or neck because they happen to be closest to the same height as the dog’s mouth.
While the statistics are frightening, there are many things that can be done to prevent dog bites from occurring. Here are some tips to help take the bite out of your dog.
- Don’t assume a stray dog is friendly, and never let children approach any dog without checking if it’s okay to pet it. If the dog has an owner, ask for permission to touch the dog.
- Never run from a strange dog. Instead, stand your ground, arms at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog. If you appear non-threatening, it will likely lose interest in you. Back away slowly if the dog doesn’t walk away on its own, and never call or yell at it.
- Never leave babies or small children unattended with dogs, even friendly ones. A too-tight hug or squeal could be perceived by your dog as a threat, and your dog may bite to “defend” himself.
- Never pet a dog while it’s eating or feeding its pups.
- Never allow children to climb on your dog’s back or hang from its neck. Even docile dogs can snap if they are annoyed enough.
- Learning to respect your dog, and other dogs, is the best way to prevent dog bites. If the dog seems anxious or distressed, it’s probably not a good time to pet him.