Dog Bite Prevention Week
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Around 4.5 million dog bites are reported annually in the U.S. That equates to roughly 2% of the country’s population! Moreover, one in five dog bites will require medical attention. Adding to that concern is the fact that children are the most common bite victims. Learning these statistics, it is easy for dog owners to feel some apprehension toward their pets. At the end of the day, you never truly know what your pet is thinking or how they will react in certain situations. That’s why dog bite prevention is incredibly important! So important, in fact, that the U.S. dedicates an entire week to the topic. Ready to learn more about dog bite prevention? Keep reading!
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When/What is Dog Bite Prevention Week?
Dog Bite Prevention Week is reserved to the second week of April annually. This year, Dog Bite Prevention Week takes place from April 10 – 16. In 2023, those dates change to April 09 – 15.
The week is centered around raising awareness about dog bites, educating others about responsible dog training to prevent attacks, and recognizing the signs and symptoms of dog aggression. Rather than blaming and shaming dogs themselves, the focus of Dog Bite Prevention Week is to help non-dog owners understand and avoid challenging behavior that might provoke a bite. It also serves as a reminder for dog owners of the severe impact their canine friends can have on humans.
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What are the signs of a dog attack?
Most dogs will show a number of warning signs prior to the attack. There is no guarantee that you will not be bit; but being mindful of these red flags will help you to recognize the situation early-on and hopefully remove yourself from a potential attack.
Common warning signs that a dog bite may occur are:
- Ears pushed back or standing directly upright
- Tucked tail
- Lifting lips to bare teeth
- Stiff body
- Intense staring or stalking
- Licking lips
- Growling, snarling, or snapping teeth
- Resource guarding
- Wagging tail (can indicate that a dog is feeling on edge)
- Fur standing up
- Showing whites of the eyes
- Avoiding eye contact (fearfulness)
Of course, these behaviors do not automatically mean the dog is about to bite. For example, a wagging tail can also mean happy excitement. The way to tell the difference is to look for other signs of aggression. Is the rest of the dog’s body stiff? Is its fur standing up? Is the dog growling and staring you down? When paired with other red flags, these warnings can be indicative of an impending bite.
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How do you prevent a dog bite?
The best course of action is for dog owners to be responsible with bite training. It’s important for owners to remember that all dogs can bite. Be proactive about learning your pup’s specific signs of distress. Also, educate others about proper behavior around your dog.
The following are ways that you can deter a dog bite:
- Approach unfamiliar dogs slowly
- Offer your hand first for them to sniff
- Stand still (‘like a tree’) around loose dogs
- Always supervise young children with dogs
- Do not approach a dog who is eating
- Do not mimic the dog’s behavior (growling, staring, etc.)
- Never run toward a dog (children tend to do so excitedly, which can startle the dog)
- Always ask to pet unfamiliar dogs before approaching
There is no way to promise that a bite will not occur but taking the proper precautions, whether as a dog owner or not, can decrease the likelihood of provoking one. If things escalate and the dog begins to charge at you, put something between the two of you (handbag, jacket, stick, chair, etc.) and cover your vital organs. Do not pull away if bitten as that can make the injury worse. Instead, encourage the dog to let go by placing something such as a stick into the back of the dog’s mouth to act as a lever.
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For many of us, our dogs are a part of the family. They are considered to be ‘members of the pack.’ This makes it difficult for us to think of them as fully capable shredding canines! Still, they are and always will be, dogs. Try not to pass blame on them if they act on feelings of discomfort or disdain toward humans. Ultimately, these are reflections of humans, and not the dog’s burden. Training is only one piece of the bite prevention puzzle. Owners and non-owners alike should follow the proper precautions to deter attacks and aim to inform others of dog bite warning signs. Thankfully, the second week of April is always reserved for raising awareness toward this issue. Remember, 4.5 million canine bites are reported in the U.S. each year. Don’t let yourself, your friends and family, or your dog, become a part of that statistic.
Thank you to the following sources:
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