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National Dog Bite Prevention Week

This week we observe National Dog Bite Prevention Week.

In the United States, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year and up to 800,000

people are treated for dog bites annually. About half are children.


Any dog can bite: big or small, male or female, young or old. Even the cuddliest, fuzziest,

sweetest pet can bite if provoked. Remember, it is not a dog's breed that determines whether it

will bite, but rather the dog's individual history and behavior.

Because any dog can bite, education and responsible pet ownership are key.

Most dog bites are preventable, and there are many things you can do at home and within your

community to help prevent them.

Why do dogs bite?

Dogs bite for a variety of reasons, but most commonly as a reaction to something. If the dog

finds itself in a stressful situation, it may bite to defend itself or its territory. Dogs can bite

because they are scared or have been startled. They can bite because they feel threatened.

They can bite to protect something that is valuable to them, like their puppies, their food or a

toy.

Dogs might bite because they aren't feeling well. They could be sick or sore due to injury or

illness and might want to be left alone. Dogs also might nip and bite during play. Even though

nipping during play might be fun for the dog, it can be dangerous for people. It's a good idea to

avoid wrestling or playing tug-of-war with your dog. These types of activities can make your dog

overly excited, which may lead to a nip or a bite.

What you can do to prevent dog bites

Socialization

Socialization is a good way to help prevent your dog from biting. Socializing your pet helps your

dog feel at ease in different situations. By introducing your dog to people and other animals

while it's a puppy, it feels more comfortable in different situations as it gets older. It's also

important to always use a leash in public to ensure that you are always able to control your

dog.

Responsible Pet Ownership

Responsible pet ownership builds a solid foundation for dog bite prevention. Basics of

responsible dog ownership that can help reduce the risk of dog bites include carefully selecting

the dog that's right for your family, proper training, regular exercise, and neutering or spaying

your pet.


Education

Educate yourself and your children about how—or whether—to approach a dog.

Never leave a small child and a dog alone together, no matter if it is the family dog, a dog that is

known to you, or a dog that you have been assured is well behaved. Any dog can bite.

Do not allow your child to play aggressive games with a dog, such as tug-of-war or wrestling, as

this can lead to bites.

Teach your child to ask a dog owner for permission before petting any dog.

Let a dog sniff you or your child before petting, and stay away from the face or tail. Pet the dog

gently, and avoid eye contact, particularly at first.

Teach your child to move calmly and slowly around dogs.

Teach your child that if a dog is behaving in a threatening manner—for example, growling and

barking—to remain calm, avoid eye contact with the dog, and back away slowly until the dog

loses interest and leaves.

If you or your child is knocked over by a dog, curl up in a ball and protect the eyes and face with

arms and fists.


Avoid Risky Situations

It's important to know how to avoid escalating risky situations and to understand when you

should and should not interact with dogs. You should avoid petting a dog in these scenarios:

If the dog is not with its owner

If the dog is with its owner but the owner does not give permission to pet the dog

If the dog is on the other side of a fence—​don't reach through or over a fence to pet a dog

If a dog is sick or injured

If a dog is playing with a toy

If a dog is growling or barking

If a dog appears to be hiding or seeking time alone

If a dog is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies. Dogs in these situations are more likely to

respond aggressively, even with a person who is familiar to them.


Pay Attention to Body Language

Reading a dog's body language also can be helpful. Just like people, dogs rely on body gestures,

postures and vocalizations to express themselves and communicate. While we can't always

read a dog's body language accurately, it can give us helpful clues as to whether a dog is feeling

stressed, frightened, or threatened.

However, the behavior of a dog may not always indicate its friendliness or unlikelihood of

biting. This is because when a dog wags its tail, most people interpret this as the dog expressing

happiness and friendliness. Though tail wagging can express these positive emotions, tail

wagging is also an indication of fear, insecurity, challenging of dominance, establishing social

relationships or a warning that the dog may bite.


Weekly Wish: While you’re out shopping this month, stop by the Winn-Dixie on South College

street and purchase one of their Community Bags. Each time someone purchases a bag this

month, Winn-Dixie will donate $1 to LCHS! These colorful bags will be on the reusable bag rack

at the store. There is a sign so you know that you're purchasing a bag that will help support

LCHS!



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Auburn, AL | lchs1140@leecountyhumane.org | 334-821-3222

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