National Dog Bite Prevention Week

While it is true that most dogs don’t bite, even the cuddliest, fuzziest, sweetest pup can bite if provoked.  From nips to bites to actual attacks, dog bites are a serious problem.

This year, May 15-21 is National Dog Bite Prevention Week.  This is an important time for parents to talk to their children about how to be safe around dogs and for dog owners to put some thought into training and other activities that can help prevent this problem.

Here is some great information from the American Veterinary Medical Association: http://www.avma.org/public_health/dogbite/

Did you know that …

  • 4.7 million people in this country are bitten by dogs every year [In Anchorage, we have around 500 reported dogs bites annually!]
  • children are by far the most common victims
  • 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites each year
  • children are far more likely to be severely injured; approximately 400,000 receive medical attention every year
  • most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs
  • senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims

There are a number of things that you can do to avoid dog bites, ranging from properly training and socializing your pet to educating your children on how, or if, they should approach a dog. Information is one of the best cures for this public health crisis.

What’s a dog owner to do?

  • Carefully select your pet. Puppies should not be obtained on impulse.
  • Make sure your pet is socialized as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
  • Don’t put your dog in a position where it feels threatened or teased.
  • Train your dog. The basic commands “sit,” “stay,” “no,” and “come” help dogs understand what is expected of them and can be incorporated into fun activities that build a bond of trust between pets and people.
  • Walk and execrcise your dog regularly to keep it healthy and provide mental stimulation.
  • Avoid highly excitable games like wrestling or tug-of-war.
  • Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog.
  • Keep your dog healthy. Have your dog vaccinated against rabies and preventable infectious diseases. Parasite control and other health care are important because how your dog feels affects how it behaves.
  • Neuter your pet.
  • If you have a fenced yard, make sure the gates are secure.

How can you protect your family?

  • Be cautious around strange dogs, and treat your own pet with respect. Because children are the most common victims of dog bites, parents and caregivers should:
  • NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
  • Be alert for potentially dangerous situations.
  • Teach their children – including toddlers – to be careful around pets. Children must learn not to approach strange dogs or try to pet dogs through fences. Teach children to ask permission from the dog’s owner before petting the dog.

Useful Links – The following AVMA resources can help you learn more:

The Blue Dog Parent Guide and CD
This innovative dog bite prevention program is designed to help parents and children safely interact with dogs both inside and outside their home. The program is geared toward children from 3 to 6 years old. It’s the only dog bite educational tool scientifically proven to help young children learn behaviors that can keep them safe.

Dog bite prevention channel on AVMA-TV
Informative videos designed to educate children are available on AVMA-TV.org. The list of webcast videos available include: Overview of Dog Bite Prevention, Ask Before You Pet a Dog, Don’t Run Around Dogs, Respect a Dog’s Territory, and Safety Tips for Dog Bite Prevention.

From AACCC:  You can also check out other resources available on our blog!

“Don’t Worry, They Won’t Bite”
Children and Dogs
Children and Cats
“May I Pet Your Dog?” Activity Sheet
AKC Safety Around Dogs Activity Book
Fido! Friend or Foe? Activity Book

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