This upcoming week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week! Dog bites are unfortunately a common injury, especially amongst children. Over four and a half million people are bitten by dogs every year with one out of every five bites requiring medical attention and sixteen bites leading to the death of the victim. Children are the most common victims, especially boys between ages five and nine years old and over two-thirds of bites incurred by children are of the head and neck. The good news is the majority of dog bites are preventable with a little knowledge and attention to detail.
Although there are several banned or restricted breeds out there, research has shown there is little correlation between breeds and the number of dog bites. Instead, the situation the dog (or dogs) and person are in is a much stronger indicator of when a bite will occur. Dogs running at large, in a fight with another dog, protecting their property or who are afraid are the most likely to bite a person. The majority of these bites happen in the home or in a public location with another dog. At home dogs tend to bite if they are startled (especially if they were just sleeping), are playing too rough or are protecting their food or toys.
Some signs of a dog that might bite are…
- Tense posture with a stiff, raised tail
- Flattened ears and teeth bared
- Growling and/or barking
- Prolonged eye contact
Here are some key tips for helping you and your children avoid dog bites.
- Do NOT leave children unsupervised with any dog. Even your loveable house dog can be caught off guard or upset by a child grabbing their ear or tail or waking them unexpectedly.
- Monitor how your dog and children play. Watch for signs of tension in your dog.
- Teach your children to keep a distance from a dog they do not know until given permission by the owner to approach. Teach them to approach calmly and not reach for a dog’s face.
Our canine friends are wonderful companions and a great addition to our lives. Keeping a watchful eye on dog body language and the situation at hand can prevent dog bites.