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Dog Bite Prevention

Dog Bite Prevention week is May 20-26. Help your children stay safe from dog bites.

With National Dog Bite Prevention Week approaching (May 20-26), it is appropriate to offer some helpful tips on how adults and children can reduce the risk of being bitten by strange or even familiar dogs.

Nationwide statistics underscore the need to educate the public about the problem and means of prevention. On average, 4.7 million Americans suffer from dog bites each year and approximately 885,000 of these incidents require medical attention.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, these bites cost the property/casualty insurance industry $350 million in 2010. State Farm paid out more than $90 million associated with nearly 3,500 dog bite claims. The most surprising facts may be that the majority of dog bites occur within pet owners’ homes, and nearly half involve children being bitten by the family dog. 

Conscientious parents can significantly reduce these high incidence rates by learning some basic guidelines that will help their children avoid getting bitten by their own dogs.

Getting bitten by a dog is the fifth most frequent cause of emergency room visits for children.

Safety Tips for Parents

  • Under no circumstances should a baby be left alone with a dog.
  • Young children should never walk or feed a dog unsupervised.
  • Do not allow a small child to discipline a dog.
  • Prevent children from pulling on a dog’s collar or other aggressive or rough play. 
  • As a general rule, children should be taught to never pet a strange dog.
  • Children should stay away from dogs that are eating or sleeping, and avoid dogs that have new puppies. 
  • Dogs that are tied up should never be approached; children should never retrieve a ball from an unfamiliar yard.
  • Train the entire family on the communications methods of a dogs’ instinctual “pack” behavior, thus teaching the dog to be submissive through body language and voice control. 

Bark Busters has set up the following web site where children can learn
more about dog behavior and safety.

http://www.barkbusters.com/page.cfm/ID/252/DogSafety

Of course dog bites are not restricted to young children. The top three professions bitten by dogs are U.S. Postal Service letter carriers, policemen and veterinarians. 

Everyone should follow safety guidelines when a dog approaches.

Safety Tips to Follow When a Dog Approaches

  • Don’t try to make friends with an unfamiliar dog.
  • Stand still, stand tall and don’t move a muscle until the dog loses interest in you – don’t try to run away.
  • Allow the dog to smell you but don’t put your hand out; let the dog come close to you on its own terms. Dogs may conduct multiple “tests” and it is during these tests that some problems may occur, so remember to stay alert.
  • Face the dog at all times but don’t make eye contact with the dog or stare – staring can be perceived as a sign of aggression by the dog.
  • As the dog loses interest in you, back away slowly, watching the dog from the corner of your eye.
  • If the dog knocks you down, roll up into a fetal position with your arms covering your head and neck and play dead; don’t fight back.

Most companion dogs are not aggressive. Aggression in most cases stems from fear and comes with clear signs that people can look for.

Dog Body Language that Signals Potential Danger:

  • Ears flattened against the head
  • Tail lowered
  • Backward-leaning posture
  • Hackles raised on the back of neck
  • Teeth bared or mouth shut tight

In these instances, be mindful to always face the dog without staring. A fearful dog almost always attacks from behind.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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