One of the biggest issues facing dog owners according to The American Veterinary Medical Association, is dog bites. Dog bites affect millions of people each year. As a matter-of-fact, according to the AVMA, about 4.5 million people are bitten by a dog each year. Dogs can’t verbally communicate so they use other ways to communicate, their voices to bark, growl, whimper, among other sounds. But perhaps the most undesirable and most damaging ways dogs communicate, is with their teeth. Dogs bite for several reasons, and some dogs bite more than others. It’s always a good thing to know how you can help prevent a dog bite, especially if you are someone who is around dogs on a regular basis, or even if you aren’t. Because dog bites can happen any time, and many times in unexpected situations, so to get a little more insight to why dogs bite and how you can help prevent a dog bite, keep reading to learn more. Here are some tips for how to prevent dog bites.
Most common people to get bitten
Studies have shown that the most common group of people to suffer from dog bites are kids, and usually boys are the most common in the children’s group. When looking at the number of incidents of dog bites among kids, in 69% of the incidents, an adult was not present at the time it happened. That being said, more times than not, even if an adult is right there with child, this still does not guarantee that the child still wouldn’t get bit.
It’s important that dog owners are aware of all the risks of dog bites so that they can learn how to prevent them. Owners need to know that a dog bite can lead to the euthanizing of their dog, as well as it can traumatize the child for the rest of their life, making them fearful of all dogs, and not knowing how to overcome their anxiety around them. As if that all isn’t enough, typically there will be a big financial consequence is your dog bites someone. You may wind up having to pay big medical bills and pain and suffering.
Tips for preventing dog bites
In a national study that compiled a list of 256 fatal dog bites from 2000-2009, these specifics were found:
- No adult or able-bodied person was at the scene to intervene
- The victim was not familiar with the dog
- The dog had not been spayed or neutered
- The victim was unable to defend himself or manage the situation due to a physical condition and/or age
- The canine was known to have been mishandled, abused or neglected previous to the incident
- The dog had been mismanaged by owner
Eight things dog owners should do to reduce the risks of their dog biting:
1. Never leave your dog in a situation where he is unattended by you, or by another adult who is capable of intervening on a situation if they need to.
2. Never approach a dog you don’t know. You should always respect dogs, their space, and their ability to do harm, even little toy dogs.
3. Always spay or neuter your dogs at the ages recommended by veterinarians. If you acquire an older dog, you still want to spay or neuter him.
4. Train your dog with positive reinforcement methods. Never harm, frighten, or use force or fear to train. This is harmful to dogs and makes them fearful so that you may cause the opposite reactions in them.
5. Socialize your dog early. Starting at puppyhood, socialize them around other animals, children, elderly, and to environments and situations that could make them uncomfortable in adulthood if not socialized to them.
6. Teach your child and other children you are around, how to interact with dogs. Do not allow rough play, sitting on the dog, pulling tails and ears, yelling, hitting or other frightful, harmful acts. Let children know a dog has the right to walk off and they should not chase after him or force him to stay.
7. Dogs are pack animals. They love to be with people and they should be thought of as our companions, not just an animal to leave alone for long periods of time locked up or alone in the backyard. This causes loneliness, depression and eventually aggression.
8. Learn the languages of a dog. Learn what his different body languages are trying to tell you, from frustration, fear, anger and more. Try to understand your dog. When you do, you can work on meeting his needs and make him more comfortable and happy.
Should a dog bite happen, here’s what you need to do:
- Make sure that any medical attention is given and taken care of first.
- Try to evaluate the situation – what was going on in the environment just before the bite took place that may have caused it.
- Reassess any warning signals that may have been given by your dog that would have indicated he was likely to bite. Did you just understand them, or did you perhaps ignore them?
Typically a dog will not just bite out of no where. They are animals that will give warning signals, communicating them the way they know how. Maybe the dog was doing a lot of lip-licking just before the bite. Perhaps his tail was tucked between his legs in fear, or maybe his ears were pinned back, and teeth gnarled. Many dogs will growl or lunge forward on or off their leash. These are all signs of aggression and ways they are communicating their fear, anger, unhappiness, and you should be able to read these signs so that you are able to react before your dog does and creates another victim of a dog bite. Knowing and understanding dogs and their language is the best way to help possibly save someone from a dog bite.