• Traci Wilkerson Steckel

National Dog Bite Prevention Week Part 1

Updated: Apr 13


Dog Bite Prevention Week

This like most days or weeks of observance, should really be recognized every day. In the United States, thousands of people, primarily children and the elderly, loose their lives to dog bites and dog attacks each year.

Thanks to the American Veterinary Medical Association, we have been able to put together some information with their studies and provided you with some helpful ideas for potentially preventing dog bites and even attacks.

Remember, we are not veterinarians.

We will be breaking this blog up and discussing various scenarios in which people are bitten, and provide ways to potentially prevent them throughout the week.

Did you know:

“Children are the most common victims of serious dog bites. Seventy percent of fatal dog attacks and more than half of bite wounds requiring medical attention involve children”, American Veterinary Medical Association.

How to Prevent:

Never leave your infants or children unattended with a dog without adult supervision, regardless of the dog’s size. Even Chihuahuas and Dachshunds have enough bite pressure to do major damage or could kill an infant.

Crying infants and an outburst from a screaming child may be enough to startle a dog who acts out in fear by biting.

Do not let your kids interact with your dog while they are eating. Getting into the food bowl or in your pup's face while eating may be seen as a threat by your dog, and not end well.

It you have toddlers or smaller children who are able to approach a dog know that you are responsible for your child. Do not let your child run up to a stranger’s dog or a stray dog. You have no idea how that dog will react.

If your child is a little older (old enough to walk, talk, and understand that even nice dogs can bite), make sure to teach them how to approach a dog and properly pet one.

Make sure that your child knows to ALWAYS ask the owner of the dog if they can pet the dog before doing so. Keep in the back of your mind that even the best-behaved and trained dog will bite if the environment in just right.

By asking the owner permission to pet his/her dog, they can tell you if the dog doesn’t like his ears touched or doesn’t like to be patted on the head, etc.

If given permission, tell your child to open is hand, put his fingers together with a flat palm and walk slowly up to the dog with the back of his palm (fingers pointing down), up to the dog. No running or jumping and no dangling fingers, they may resemble a snack! Once the dog has sniffed or even licked the back of his hand, he can slowly and gently pet the dog’s neck from the top of his head to his back, or even scratch under his cheek. Always listen to the owner. If the owner says “thank you” or “that’s enough”, be sure to stop. Have your child bring his hand slowly back to his side, as a fast or quick jerk may startle the dog. If the dog snarls or growls be sure to tell your child to slowly bring his hand back to his side.

As I stated earlier, even a good dog may bite if the environment is just right. What does this mean?

I have provided two examples that I made up, but 100% possible. Well, Lexi has actually chomped into me during snack time, so that is partially true!

Example 1. Lexi.

Our Dachshund Lexi is the sweetest dog. She loves people and will go home with anyone. But Lexi is 18 and pretty much blind, but has a great sense of smell. If your kid has been eating Cheetos and goes in to pet Lexi, I can almost guarantee that Lexi will go in for what she thinks is a Cheeto, but actually your kid’s finger. Let me tell you from experience, Lexi has a great bite and will not let go if she thinks you’re taking her Cheeto away. Is she a mean dog? Of course not! Has she ever bitten anyone before (besides me at snack time)? Never. Is she hungry for a Cheeto? Of course, she is!

Example 2. Emee.

Emee is also a very sweet dog. She is a very skittish Chihuahua and it takes her awhile to warm up. If we are at the Quartyard Dog park and she has warmed up enough to let you pet her, and then a car speeds by that backfires, that sound may be enough to startle her and have her react with a bite. Tiny mouth, not many teeth, but it could break the skin and with the bacteria from her mouth, could give you an infection. Is Emee a mean dog? No! Is Emee an aggressive dog? No. Is Emee a dog who may react when startled even though she is a good dog? Yes!

Remember there are many scenarios in which a person or child could be bitten by a dog. Be sure to always use common sense and know that you must be responsible for your children, and make sure they know how to approach a dog and pet it properly. It’s also ok to keep your small children away from dogs until you are able to teach them how to approach and pet one or until they are ready to understand. This way your child’s experience of petting a dog is more likely to be a good one, and one less bite to be reported for the year!

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