When Not to Hug It Out

Most dogs don’t like to be hugged, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). In fact, hugging a strange dog – no matter how friendly it may seem – is a good way to get bitten.

AVMA is doubling down on the “don’t hug a dog” messaging because it’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week from May 17-23. The organization is teaming up with insurer State Farm and other members of the National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition to get the word out.

State Farm said it paid out nearly $115 million as a result of 3,500 dog-related injury claims last year. California was the company’s worst state for dog-injury claims, with 445 last year alone.

More than half of all dog-related injury victims are children. To get a handle on what children know – and don’t know – about dog behavior, the National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition put together a quiz focused on children age 5 -9. Most of the kids who took the quiz, flunked.

In fact, of the 710 children who answered the quiz questions, not a single one answered all of the questions correctly. This means that they are in greater danger of being bitten by a dog. Indeed, 34% of the children indicated they had been bitten by a dog at least once.

Some of the most important questions include:

Does an angry dog ever wag his tail? (The correct answer is YES)

Is a dog that is afraid as dangerous as a dog that is angry? (The correct answer is YES)

Do dogs like to be hugged and kissed? (The correct answer question is NO)

Parents can learn how to keep their children safe at preventthebite.org.

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