Dog Bite Prevention
From nips to
bites to actual attacks, dog bites are a serious problem. Dog
bite victims requiring medical attention in the United States
number 500,000 to 1 million annually. Countless more bites go
unreported and untreated. On average, about a dozen people die
each year from dog bites. Here is what the American Veterinary
Medical Association has to say about addressing the problem.
Who's being bitten?
make up more than 60 percent of all dog bite victims. The
elderly and home service people like mail carriers and meter
readers also are high on the list of frequent dog bite victims.
What's a dog owner to do?
consider your pet selection.
Before and after selection, your veterinarian is the best source
for information about behavior and suitability.
your pet is socialized
as a young puppy, so it feels at ease around people and other
animals. Expose your puppy to a variety of situations a little
at a time and under controlled circumstances; continue that
exposure on a regular basis as your dog gets older. If you're
not sure how your dog will react to a large crowd or a busy
street, be cautious. Don't put your dog in a position where it
feels threatened or teased.
The basic commands "sit," "stay," "no" and "come" can be
incorporated into fun activities which build a bond of obedience
and trust between pets and people. Don't play aggressive games
like wrestling or tug-of-war with your dog.
Keep your dog healthy.
Have your dog vaccinated against rabies and preventable
infectious diseases. Parasite control is important to how your
dog feels and behaves.
It's a fact: Neutered dogs are less likely to bite. Be a
responsible pet owner. License your dog with the community as
required. Obey leash laws. Dogs are social animals; spending
time with your pet is important. Dogs that are frequently left
alone have a greater chance of developing behavior problems.
Know your dog. You naturally would be alert to signs of illness,
but you must also watch for signs your dog is uncomfortable or
How can my family and I avoid
Be cautious around strange dogs and treat your own pet with
respect. Because children are the most frequent victims of dog
bites, parents and care givers should:
leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
the lookout for potentially dangerous situations.
teaching young children - including toddlers - to be careful
around pets. Children must be taught not to approach strange
dogs. Children should be taught to ask permission from a
dog's owner before petting the dog.
Other tips that may prevent or
stop a dog attack:
past a dog.
Dogs naturally love to chase and catch things. Don't give them a
reason to become excited or aggressive.
disturb a dog that's caring for puppies, sleeping or eating.
If a dog
approaches to sniff you - stay still.
In most cases, the dog will go away when it determines you're
not a threat.
threatened by a dog, remain calm.
Don't scream. If you say anything, speak calmly and firmly.
Avoid eye contact. Try to stay still until the dog leaves, or
back away slowly until the dog is out of sight. Don't turn and
If you fall
or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball
with your hands over your head and neck. Protect your face.
What should I do if my dog bites
Even if the bite can be explained (perhaps someone stepped on
the dog's tail), it's important to take responsibility for your
dog's actions by taking these steps:
the dog immediately.
Separate it from the scene of the attack. Confine it.
the victim's condition.
Wash wounds with soap and water. Professional medical advice
should be sought to evaluate the risk of rabies or other
infections. Call 911 if paramedic response is required.
your name and address, and information about your dog's most
recent rabies vaccination. If your dog does not have a
current rabies vaccination, it may be necessary to
quarantine it or even euthanize it for rabies testing. The
person bitten may need to undergo rabies treatment.
the bite to your insurance company.
with local ordinances
regarding the reporting of dog bites. All bites must be
reported to the health department.
for advice about dog behavior that will help prevent similar
problems in the future.
If you are
the bite victim
- treat wounds.
own dog bit you, confine it immediately and call your
veterinarian to check your dog's vaccination records.
someone else's dog bit you, contact authorities and tell
them everything you can about the dog: the owner's name, if
you know it; color of the dog; size; where you saw it; if
you've seen it before. These details may help animal-control
officers locate the dog.
wonderful companions. By acting responsibly, owners not only
reduce the number of dog bites, but also enhance the
relationships they have with their dogs.