Every year, more than 4.5 million Americans — more than half of which are children — are bitten by dogs. As part of the National Dog Bite Prevention Week® coalition, American Humane is encouraging adults to protect both children and dogs, and learn the importance of responsible pet ownership.
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 however 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.
To reduce the number of injuries to people and the risk of relinquishment of dogs who bite, American Humane offers the following suggestions:
- 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.
For families with small children, American Humane encourages downloading a free copy of “Pet Meets Baby,” an online booklet which provides valuable information on introducing children and pets to one another.
American Humane believes dogs provide humans with so much – such as love, comfort, and protection. But it’s up to us humans to be good friends to dogs as well, by following these safety tips and protecting ourselves, our children, and dogs from the dangers and consequences of dog bites.