Educating year-round about dog body language is a good idea and can lead to a decrease in the number of dogs biting humans. However, in May we have a week (starting the 15th) dedicated to Dog Bite Prevention and to that end, we will be publishing infographics and articles related to this topic.
National Dog Bite Prevention Week is May 15-21st
“Dooes yoor doog baight?”
So began one of Peter Sellers’ funniest 20 seconds in movie history.
Except dog bites aren’t funny. The facts:
- Almost 5 million people were reported bitten by dogs in 2011 in the United States.
- Nearly 1 million Americans, primarily children and senior citizens, require medical attention for dog bite wounds EVERY YEAR.
Whether you place the primary responsibility for those disturbing statistics with the human or the dog, there are steps owners and especially parents and children can take to minimize risk.
First, NEVER leave an infant or young child alone with a dog!
Additionally, parents can teach their children to WAIT
W – Wait to see if the dog looks friendly. If the dog looks afraid or angry, STOP and walk away slowly.
A – Ask the owner for permission to pet the dog. If the owner says no or there is no owner present, STOP and walk away slowly.
I – Invite the dog to come to you to sniff you. Put your hand to your side with your fingers curled in. Stand slightly sideways and dip your head down so you are not looking directly at the dog. If the dog does not come over to sniff you, STOP and do not touch him.
T – Touch the dog gently, petting him along his back while staying away from his head and tail.
Pet owners can help take the CHOMP out of bites
C – Choose carefully. Consult your veterinarian or adoption agency counselor for tips on a pet that fits your lifestyle and abilities.
H – Health care. Have your pet vaccinated against rabies and other preventable diseases. Parasite control, oral care, pain medication, proper nutrition and other health issues should be addressed. How your pet feels affects how he behaves.
O – OHE/OE, which stand for ovariohysterectomy, spaying in females, and orchiectomy, neutering in males. Unneutered male dogs on chains are the most likely to bite.
M – Maintain control. Pups should be properly socialized and not fearful around new people and situations. All dogs need basic obedience training; “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “no” or “drop it” could save his life a lot quicker than “treat” or “shake.” Secure fences and (for the love of all that is good in the world!) NON-EXTENSIBLE LEASHES could save a child or adult from serious injury.
P – Play responsibly. This means no threatening or teasing, especially with an impressionable puppy. Make an effort to form a bond of trust and respect with your dog. Provide regular exercise so your dog is physically healthy and mentally stimulated. This could also save your furniture and carpeting.
Source: A particular fondness for puns and acronyms :)
by Kerry McKinney, DVM