Tips to Preventing Dog Bites
Dogs may be man’s best friends, but even a beloved family pet may act aggressively and bite if it feels cornered or threatened.
More than 4.5 million people sustain dog bites every year in the United States and 800,000 of them have to receive medical attention, according to healthypets.mercola.com. Approximately half of those bitten are children.
Children are the most likely dog-bite victims because a child may try to play with the family pet and get the dog overly excited or may not recognize an animal’s warning signs. As the weather warms, children spend more time outdoors and the incidence of dog bites increases.
A 10-year-old Fulton County boy was severely bitten recently when he got home from school and realized he had forgotten his house key. He went across the street to the neighbor’s house to use the phone and was attacked by two bull mastiffs, according to a WSB-TV report. The boy was hospitalized with severe dog bites to the head.
We want to share some tips from the Georgia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help your children avoid being bitten:
- Keep watch: Supervise children at all times when they are with a dog.
- Stay calm: Dogs often bite when they get excited, so teach your children to play calmly when the dog is around and avoid making loud noises. If the dog gets too excited, children should stop and be still for a few moments, before walking away. Children should avoid screaming and running in the other direction.
- Avoid sick pets: Dogs can get aggressive if they’re hurt or sick. Teach your children to avoid interacting with dogs that appear injured or sick and to tell an adult immediately.
- Don’t challenge: Dogs are naturally protective creatures. They will guard toys, food, and places such as a house and yard. Urge your children to avoid taking a dog’s food or play toys. If a dog is tied up in a yard or behind a fence, children should never approach them.
- Avoid strangers: Startled dogs are more likely to bite because they may be afraid. Teach children not to go near an unknown dog unless its owner gives permission. If they do pet an unknown dog, they should move slowly and quietly to avoid startling it.
- Recognize warning signs: Teach children to identify the signs of a dog that may be preparing to bite. Telltale signs include moving away or looking away, putting their ears back, moving stiffly or slowly, raising the hair on their neck or back and baring their teeth, barking, or growling. If your child encounters a dog doing one of those things, teach them to count to five, and move slowly backwards without making eye contact with the dog.
- Learn to protect: If a dog attacks a child, they should protect their face and head by rolling into a ball and being still.
Ounce of Prevention
Prevention is the best method for protecting your family from dog bites, especially since many of these injuries are sustained at home. Follow sensible steps in choosing a dog and training and raising it properly.
- Right selection: When selecting a pet, make sure the dog you bring into your home matches the family’s needs. Talk to a reputable breeder to determine which dogs would mesh well with your family.
- Socialization: Teaching your dog to become sociable could be the best way to avoid behavioral problems. Training the pet to obey commands such as sit, stay, no, and come is a great first step.
- Exercise: Plenty of exercise benefits your dog’s physical conditioning and provides it the mental stimulation to stay well-balanced.
- Playtime: Play with your pet, but avoid games such as wrestling or tug-of-war that create competition. Also avoid making your dog feel threatened or teased when playing games.
- Walk the dog: In public, use a leash, which is required by law in many states, and make sure you have control of the dog, not vice-versa. If the dog is walking you, it’s probably time for obedience training.
- Security: Dogs kept in fenced-in areas require owners to make sure gates are secure and escape routes are shut off.
- Healthy and happy: Good health is part of keeping a dog happy. A proper diet based on the species, plenty of exercise, grooming, bathing, and evening teeth-brushing are crucial to a dog’s health. At least two trips to the veterinarian for checkups are beneficial as well.
- Get a shot: Make sure your dog has its rabies vaccine in accordance with state laws and consider a three-year vaccine.
- Talk to vet: Consider having your dog spayed or neutered to avoid unwanted puppies. This also can reduce aggressiveness in dogs. Discuss the proper time with your veterinarian first.
Despite people’s best efforts, dogs may still bite or even attack and cause life-threatening damage. Georgia has strict laws regarding the legal liability of dog owners for bites caused by dangerous dogs. Contact an Atlanta dog bite attorney experienced in handling dog-bite cases to help you obtain the compensation you and your family deserve. Don’t allow a dog bite to alter the course of your life.