If you own a dog, you should be aware that it is not completely unlikely that your dog might bite. According to 2009 figures from the CDC, approximately 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year. Of these bites, about one in five result in wounds that require medical attention. Furthermore, the property/casualty industry pays out hundreds of millions of dollars to satisfy dog bite claims each year. But you can take steps to make it less likely that your dog will bite.
Prior to bringing a dog into your household:
- Speak with a professional such as a veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or a responsible breeder to find out which breeds of dogs are the best fit for your household.
- Dogs with aggressive natures are not appropriate for households with children.
- Pay attention to cues that a child is apprehensive about a dog. If a child seems fearful of dogs, wait before bringing a dog into your household.
- Before buying or adopting a dog, spend time with it. Exercise caution when bringing a dog into a household with an infant or toddler.
If you decide to adopt or purchase a dog:
- Spay or neuter your pet since this action reduces aggressive tendencies.
- Don’t ever leave young children or babies alone with a dog.
- Don’t play aggressively with your dog. Avoid wrestling or tug-of-war games.
- Teach your dog submissive behaviors such as rolling over to expose the abdomen, and giving up food without growling.
- Seek professional advice from a veterinarian or responsible breeder if the dog develops aggressive or other unwanted behaviors.
Teach children special safety precautions to take around dogs:
- Children should not approach an unfamiliar dog
- Don’t run from a dog or scream
- If an unfamiliar dog approaches, remain motionless
- If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still
- Report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
- Avoid making eye contact with a dog.
- Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.
Be a responsible pet owner and protect yourself and others from dog bites, pain and suffering, as well as insurance claims!