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Tips to stay safe during National Dog Bite Prevention Week and all year round

Tips to stay safe during National Dog Bite Prevention Week and all year round

Tips to stay safe during National Dog Bite Prevention Week and all year round

Every year more than 4.5 million Americans, more than half of them children, are bitten by dogs. As part of the National Dog Bite Prevention Week Coalition, American Humane Association encourages adults to teach children how to avoid dog bites and learn the importance of pet owner responsibility.

"Dogs are our best friends, providing love, comfort and protection," says Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. "But it's up to us humans to be good friends to them as well by protecting everyone around us – ourselves, our kids, and our dogs – from the dangers and consequences of dog bites."

Dogs can bite for many reasons, including improper care and/or a lack of socialization. All dogs, even well trained gentle dogs, are capable of biting when provoked, especially when eating, sleeping or caring for puppies. Thus, even when a bite is superficial or classified as "provoked," dogs may be abandoned or euthanized. Therefore, it's vitally important to keep both children and dogs safe by preventing dog bites wherever possible.

"A dog bite can have a profound effect on the dog's family, especially the children, who, if the dog is euthanized, might have to cope with loss for the first time," said Dr. Amy McCullough, American Humane Association's National Director of Humane Research and Therapy, speaking at the National Dog Bite Prevention Week Coalition kick-off event in Houston on May 11, which also featured a special furry guest: her own companion, Butler the Weather Channel Therapy Dog.

"In my work as a registered therapy dog handler, I teach children the proper ways to approach a dog so they can avoid being bitten. All dog owners everywhere need to make sure they know the steps they can take to prevent their dog from biting someone."

To reduce the number of injuries to people and the risk of relinquishment of dogs who bite, American Humane Association offers the following suggestions:

For Children: 
  • Never approach an unknown dog or a dog that is alone without an owner, and always ask for permission before petting the dog. 
  • Never approach an injured animal – find an adult who can get the help s/he needs 
  • Never approach a dog that is eating, sleeping or nursing puppies. 
  • Don't poke, hit, pull, pinch or tease a dog. 

For Dog Owners: 
  • Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog, even if it is a family pet. 
  • Interactions between children and dogs should always be monitored to ensure the safety of both your child and your dog. 
  • Teach your children to treat the dog with respect and not to engage in rough or aggressive play. 
  • Make sure your pet is socialized as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals. 
  • Never put your dog in a position where s/he feels threatened. 
  • Walk and exercise your dog regularly to keep him/her healthy and to provide mental stimulation. 
  • Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog. 
  • Regular veterinary care is essential to maintain your dog's health; a sick or injured dog is more likely to bite. 
  • Be alert. If someone approaches you and your dog, caution them to wait before petting the dog; give your pet time to be comfortable with a stranger. 

American Humane Association also offers a free online booklet available for families with children called "Pet Meets Baby," providing valuable information on introducing a new child to a home with a pet – or a new pet into a home with a child.

Credit: AHA 
Image via AVMA.org
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National Dog Bite Prevention Week May 15 - 21

It's National Dog Bite Prevention Week.  This entire week is dedicated to educating people of all ages about how to prevent dog bites. 

There is an estimated population of 70 million dogs living in U.S. households right now. Nearly 5 million (reported) dog bites occur in the United States each year.  Most of these bites involve children. We can change those statistics and help keep kids and families safe!  The majority of dog bites, if not all, are preventable. 

We as dog guardians, parents, educators and family members can learn how to "read" a dogs body language better and teach our children how to recognize the warning signs of a dog that could potentially be under stress to aid in preventing dog bites.

National Dog Bite Prevention Week May 15 - 21
Graphic provided by DoggoneSafe

 

This is not cute. This is dangerous.

This is not cute.  This is dangerous.  

Once our children understand a dog's body language a little better, they will then have a better idea on how to interact with a dog with these helpful tips:

1. Dogs don’t like hugs and kisses — Teach your kids not to hug or kiss a dog on the face.  Hugging the family dog or other face-to-face contacts are common causes of bites to the face.  Instead, teach kids to scratch the dog on the chest or the side of the neck.

2.  Be a tree if a strange dog approaches — Teach kids to stand still, like a tree.  Trees are boring and the dog will eventually go away. This works for strange dogs, and any time the family dog gets too frisky or becomes aggressive.

3.  Never tease a dog.

4.  Never disturb a dog that’s sleeping, eating, or protecting something.

5. Teach your kids to Speak Dog, and only interact only with happy dogs! 

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Familiar children were most commonly bitten in relation to food or resource guarding and “benign” interactions such as petting, hugging, bending over, or speaking to the dog. ~Dog bite study

 

So, we've learned some dog behavior warning signs and can watch the dog's body language and we've taught our child some of the basics of how to interact with a dog. Now what?

NOW, the most important things parents can do:

1.   ACTIVELY Supervise — Passive supervision is something we are all guilty of, even if you don’t have kids. But active supervision is a must when there are pets and children in the home!

Supervision means different things to different people. To some parents, supervision means just being home, to others it means watching out the window while the kids play with the dog outside while to others it means having hands on and being part of the interaction between the child and the dog. Many dog bites have happened to children while the parents were ‘supervising’.  - Jennifer Shryock, Family Paws Parent Education

2. If you see these signs, intervene quickly and redirect the child/dog.  These signals include:

3.  Learn the Dog Behavior Continuum:  We hear it all the time, “Kids and dogs should never be left unsupervised”.  That’s great advice, but what else should we be doing?  Supervision only works when we know what to look for and when it’s time to intervene.  We have to know when a dog is going from “Enjoyment to Tolerance, to Enough Already“ and back again.

4.  Don’t assume your dog is “good with kids”.  All dogs have their breaking point. We all do. If a toddler must interact with your dog, you should have your hands on the dog, too.  Even if your dog is great with kids and has never bitten before, why take a chance?

5.  Train the dog—Take your dog to obedience classes where positive reinforcement is used.  Never pin, shake, choke, hold the dog down, or roll the dog over to teach it a lesson.  Dogs treated this way are likely to turn their aggression on weaker family members.

6.  Involve older children with training the family dog (while supervising).

7. Don’t allow children to punish the dog, and don’t punish the dog yourself.  Condition the dog to enjoy the presence and actions of children using positive experiences.

 

A child should never be left unsupervised with any dog at any time

A child should never be left unsupervised with any dog at any time

 

 
“My dog would never bite anyone!” Are you willing to bet your dog on that statement?

“My dog would never bite anyone!” Are you willing to bet your dog  or your child on that statement?  Why take the risk?

 

Education is the key to safety and well being for everyone in the home. This week is the perfect time to reflect on how we can better protect our canine companions, children, and others from the preventable tragedy of a dog bite.  

Please share this to help educate others so we can all work together to keep dogs, kids, and families safe 365 days a year!

In Love and Furry Best Wishes!

 

 

Information provided by Conscious Companion and Doggone Safe

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