It’s that time again! Dog Bite Prevention Week. Held annually in the third week of May, it’s a perfect time to remind ourselves of how to keep ourselves safe from dog bites, and I don’t mean just from vicious dogs – even our own as well.
As the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says, there are 70 million dogs … and any one of them can bite. Sure, you know your own Pookie, Spot, or Frisky better than anyone, but even the most docile dog can bite if put in the right situation. It may not mean to or want to, but a dog that has been injured, stepped on or accidentally hit, or one that just doesn’t want his food messed with during meal times can surprised any family. Let’s look at some tips – and yes, some of them are really obvious – to keep in mind with our four-legged friends.
This also seems like an opportune time to mention that this list is in no way complete. PVMA has a more comprehensive Dog Bite Prevention fact sheet available for download here.
- Ask before you pet. As well as being a courtesy to the owner, it allows them an opportunity to warn you if the dog is unfriendly or aggressive to strangers.
- Ask the owner the dog’s name. Calling the dog by it’s name will help relax it.
- Allow the dog to smell your hand first. Sniffing is like a hand shake for dogs so introduce yourself before you pet.
- Don’t reach for the dog’s head. Many dogs don’t like being pet on the head and could be frightened by a stranger’s hand reaching for their face. Pet the dog on its side, chest, or back.
- Never hug a dog you’ve just met. Many dogs don’t like to be hugged.
Dogs at home
If you have a dog at home, you know its personality better than anyone else, but that doesn’t mean you always know the right thing to do. Here are a few common sense tips that we might not think of to help you and your dog live harmoniously.
- If your dog is eating or enjoying a treat, leave him alone till he’s finished. Even if your dog is not agressive, dogs don’t like to be disturbed while eating and might react aggressively if they think you’re going to take their food away.
- If your dog is sleeping, never hit it or make loud noises to wake it. Dogs that normally are not aggressive may bite or growl if they are scared out of a deep sleep.
Here are some family-friendly resources to help prevent dog bites which include quizzes and games to help kids learn how to treat man’s best friend.
Dog Bite Prevention and Children