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8 Dog Bite Prevention Tips

These 8 dog bite prevention tips will keep you and your family safe.

Have you ever been bitten by a dog? If you have: Ouch. I’m so sorry. I hope you were able to identify the dog so you did not have to go through the pain of rabies shots.

Believe it or not, folks who haven’t been bitten by a dog are actually in the minority. Part of it comes down to simple numbers. Dogs are common household pets (in fact, about one-third of all households in this country include at least one dog) and there are more than 65 million dogs in the U.S. 

Dog bites are a serious public health concern, especially for children. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States. Children are most at-risk—about half of children will be bitten by a dog before their 12th birthday. Why? 

Small children are often the same height as a dog and tend to push and pull on dogs, thinking they are being playful, when in fact, they may be antagonizing the pup. Kids are less likely to pick up on dogs’ body language, and also are more likely to behave in unpredictable ways that may be misinterpreted by a dog and prompt them to snap.

Even familiar dogs are known to bite. Indeed, the most common place for someone to be attacked by a dog is in their own home. The second most common location is in a friend’s home. And 77% of biting dogs are owned by the victim’s family, a relative or a friend of the family.

With that in mind, below are eight essential tips to prevent dog bites and keep you and your family safe:

  1. Ask owners for permission before petting their dog. Be cautious around unfamiliar dogs. When encountering a new dog, approach them calmly and slowly, and allow the dog to sniff you first.
  2. Supervise interactions between children and dogs. Never leave a child or baby alone with a dog, even a familiar one.
  3. Never reach over or through a fence to pet a dog. This may cause a dog to feel threatened and prompt them to bite to protect their territory.
  4. Allow a dog to initiate touching and play. Don’t bother them when they’re in their crate, eating or sleeping, and don’t tease dogs.
  5. Don’t approach a dog if they are eating, sleeping or caring for their puppies. They may become defensive—and then aggressive.
  6. Pay attention to a dog’s body language. Beware if you see flattened ears, bared teeth, growling, or the white’s of a dog’s eyes, as these are signs of nervousness or aggression. If you’re threatened by a dog, remain calm and still. Running, screaming and hitting can escalate the situation. Avoid direct eye contact.
  7. Avoid making sudden movements or loud noises. Be aware of the messages you’re sending with your body. Sudden movements or loud noises can startle a dog and trigger a bite.
  8. Be aware of your surroundings. When you are out with your dog, keep them leashed and under control. This will help you avoid situations where your dog might feel threatened and react defensively.

Does your dog bite? I can help.

I have witnessed many pet owners who think that their dog will not bite or harm a child, only to discover they were terribly wrong. This is particularly true for owners who engage in rough play with their dog. Inadvertently, they may be setting their dog up to play roughly with others who might not recognize the behavior as play. (Remember that even the sweetest dog can bite if provoked!) 

But with the proper training (of both you and your dog), dogs’ destructive behavior can be curbed. When your dog knows basic commands and proper behavior, they are less likely to bite—or to be bitten. Don’t wait for the worst—let me bring my 20 years of professional dog training experience to your household. Call me now at 757-215-4468 to take the bite out of your dog! 

Greg Knows Dogs provides in-home dog training in Virginia’s Bayview, Chelsea, Ghent, Larchmont and Ocean View neighborhoods.