According to recent surveys by American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) there are approximately 65 million dogs owned in the United States. Twenty three percent of these owners have two dogs and 12% have three or more. This is a lot of dogs so it is not surprising that around 4.8 million Americans suffer from dog bites each year and around 800,000 of those bites require medical attention.
Most dog bites occur within the dog's home territory and bite victims are normally family members, home service workers, and delivery persons. Last year over 30,000 mail carriers alone were bitten while doing their jobs. Most surprising is that half of the bite incidents reported involved children bitten by the family pet. Many of these unfortunate incidents can be avoided if we all take the responsibility of protecting our family members and visitors through an effective education process and the correct training and socializing of our four legged family members.
As Dog Trainers and Pet Care Providers, canine education equates to canine safe working practices. This is an important aspect of our business. We recommend that
- Before petting someone's dog, ask the owner's permission. If it's okay, approach slowly and quietly. Let the dog sniff you first, then pet the dog's sides or back gently.
- Never sneak up on or pet a dog that is eating or sleeping. Animals may bite when they are startled or frightened.
- Never pet a dog that is playing with a toy. Dogs are often protective of toys, and may think a child is trying to take it.
- Never try to pet a dog that is in a car. Dogs will often protect that space.
- Never pet a dog that is behind a fence. Most dogs naturally protect their property and home.
And if a strange dog approaches, children should follow these tips:
- If you are walking, stop and stand still (like a tree) with your hands at your side.
- If you are playing on the ground, lie still on the ground (like a log) with your knees tucked into your stomach and your hands over your ears. When you stay still and quiet like this, the dog will most likely just sniff you and go away.
- Never, ever try to outrun a dog. Back away slowly from him instead.
- Stare at the ground, not at the dog
- Hum a nursery rhyme, it keeps you calm
- With all of this if a dog does attack then take off your jacket or coat and wave it, the dog will take hold of that and not you. This may give you time to retreat over a fence, inside a gate or get help
If you are a dog owner and your family pet expresses any type of aggression, such as protecting resources, food, toys or family members or displays any signs of snapping, nipping or growling, you should consult a certified dog trainer or animal behaviorist immediately. Most of these behaviors can be modified with professional help - thus avoiding an escalation of inappropriate behavior. Let's protect our communities and reduce the number of preventable dog bites through education for all of our family members, including those with four legs , and let’s keep dog bites in perspective, Janice Bradley
in her book Dogs Bite but balloons and slippers are more dangerous writes that cars, ladders, poison,
choking, fires, guns and bicycles are all responsible for more unintentional deaths than dog bites.