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Pet Safety: Dog Bite Awareness And Prevention

It seems that each year, I just miss National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which is the third full week of May. As you know, it’s June already. But can it ever hurt to review such important information?

More than 4.7 million people a year receive bites from man/woman’s best friend. If you have read this blog for very long, you know I dearly love my dogs — deceased ones (Columbo, Ladybug, and Girlfriend) and the living one, Rusty. I have no illusions that dogs bite, and given the right provocation I think mine would (although most of the time they are totally harmless and would just invite you in to rob me).

Most dog bite-related injuries occur in children 5 to 9 years of age. Almost two thirds of injuries among children 4 years or younger are to the head or neck region. Dog bites are a largely preventable public health problem, and adults and children can learn to reduce their chances of being bitten.

Basic safety around dogs:

• Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.

• Do not run from a dog and scream.

• Remain motionless (“be still like a tree”) when approached by an unfamiliar dog.

• If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (“be still like a log”).

• A child should not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.

• A child should immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.

• Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.

• Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.

• Do not a pet a dog without asking permission from its owner first.

• Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.

Things to consider before adding a dog to your household:

• Learn about suitable breeds of dogs for your household.

• Dogs with histories of aggression are inappropriate in households with children.

• If your child is fearful or apprehensive around dogs, then don’t get one. it will not make the child less fearful.

• Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a dog into the home of an infant or toddler.

• Spay/neuter virtually all dogs (this frequently reduces aggressive tendencies).

• Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog.

• Do not play aggressive games with your dog (e.g. wrestling).

• Properly socialize and train any dog entering the household. Teach the dog submissive behaviors (e.g. rolling over to expose abdomen and relinquishing food without growling.

• Immediately seek professional advice (e.g. from veterinarians or animal trainers) if the dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

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