Dog Bites Can Be Prevented
Every year, there are approximately 4.5 million people bitten by dogs, with children between the ages of five and nine the most likely to be bitten.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year as many as 800,000 people, more than half of them children, require medical attention for dog bites. And more than a dozen people, most of them small children, die from dog bite injuries.
The good news is that dog bites can be prevented. Whether you own a dog or have children, here are some tips to help keep everyone safer.
Keep Your Children Safe
Teach your children basic dog safety:
- Never approach an unfamiliar dog, especially one who’s tethered or confined behind a fence or in a car.
- Never play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
- Do not tease or chase any dog.
- Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Ask permission from the owner before petting a dog.
- Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
- Never turn your back and run away from a dog. Don't scream.
- Be Still Like A Tree: Trees are boring to dogs. When approached by an unfamiliar dog, remain motionless with your hands at your sides or folded in front of you. Moving your hands above your head encourages the dog to jump. Do not make eye contact with the dog. If you believe a dog is about to lunge at you, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a backpack or a bicycle.
- If knocked down by a dog, roll into a ball and protect your face with your hands.
- If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.
Tips for Dog Owners
- Dogs who spend a lot of time alone or chained up can become dangerous. Dogs who are well-socialized, well-trained, and supervised are more likely to interact safely with adults and children. To help prevent dog bites, interact with dogs respectfully, and provide them with appropriate training and socialization opportunities.
- Dogs with a history of aggression are generally not appropriate for households with children.
- Use caution when bringing a dog or puppy into the home of an infant or toddler. Never, ever leave infants or young children alone with any dog. Read our tips about introducing a pet to a baby.
- If your child seems fearful or apprehensive about having a dog, it is probably wise to delay bringing one into your home.
- Spay or neuter your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to roam, which may decrease the possibility of unsafe interactions.
- Properly socialize and train your dog.
If Your Dog Does Bite, Take Responsible Actions
- Confine your dog immediately. Check on the victim and seek medical attention.
- Provide the victim with important information, such as the date of your dog’s last rabies vaccination. Without a current rabies vaccination on record, your dog likely faces a quarantine.
- Cooperate with the animal control official. Strictly follow any quarantine requirements.
- Seek professional help to prevent your dog from biting again. Consult with your veterinarian, who may refer you to an animal behaviorist or a dog trainer. Your community animal control agency or humane society may also offer helpful services.
Published: March 9, 2009; Updated: May 1, 2015
Sources: CDC, AVMA
The American Veterinary Medical Association, the US Postal Service, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery, the Insurance Information Institute and Prevent the Bite cosponsor National Dog Bite Prevention Week® each May.