Preventing Dog Bites

American Humane is part of the National Dog Bite Prevention Week coalition, and has some advice for the public.

Every year more than 4.5 million Americans, more than half of them children, are bitten by dogs. The country’s first national humane organization, encourages adults to protect both children and dogs, and learn the importance of pet owner responsibility.

Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one third of all homeowners liability claim dollars paid out in 2017, costing almost $700 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farm.

To reduce the number of injuries to people and the risk of relinquishment of dogs who bite, American Humane offers the following suggestions:

For Children:

  • Never approach an unknown dog or a dog that is alone without an owner, and always ask for permission before petting the dog.
  • Never approach an injured animal – find an adult who can get the help s/he needs.
  • Never approach a dog that is eating, sleeping or nursing puppies.
  • Don’t poke, hit, pull, pinch or tease a dog.

For Dog Owners:

  • Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog, even if it is a family pet.
  • Interactions between children and dogs should always be monitored to ensure the safety of both your child and your dog.
  • Teach your children to treat the dog with respect and not to engage in rough or aggressive play.
  • Make sure your pet is socialized as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
  • Never put your dog in a position where s/he feels threatened.
  • Walk and exercise your dog regularly to keep him/her healthy and to provide mental stimulation.
  • Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog.
  • Regular veterinary care is essential to maintain your dog’s health; a sick or injured dog is more likely to bite.
  • Be alert, if someone approaches you and your dog – caution them to wait before petting the dog, give your pet time to be comfortable with a stranger.

American Humane also offers a free online booklet available for families with children called “Pet Meets Baby,” providing valuable information on introducing a new child to a home with a pet – or a new pet into a home with a child: americanhumane.org

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