It seems that almost weekly the news contains a story relating to a dog bite or mauling. When one begins to examine the situation or cause; sadly it may have been avoided. Each year in the U.S. alone, an estimated 5 million people--nearly 2% of the population--are bitten by dogs. About 800,000 of these people require medical attention as the result of the bite or attack, and about 15-20 die from their injuries. These numbers, however, while alarming, are not particularly shocking, given that there are an estimated 65 million dogs in the U.S. What may be more surprising is that most dog bites are preventable if owners train and care for their dogs properly and if potential bite victims--that is to say, nearly all of us--know how to behave around dogs. Even a good dog can bite.
Here are 11 suggestions for avoiding dog bites:
- Never try to pet an unfamiliar dog that's behind a fence, tied up, or in a car. Dogs can be very protective of their territory, and if you enter their space you're just asking to be bitten.
- When walking your dog, make sure you keep your dog on a leash and stay clear of other dogs. Try to anticipate problems if you see another dog ahead. Even if your dog is friendly, that doesn't mean everyone else's is. If a fight does break out, be careful how you go about breaking it up (see above). As the dog's owner you will almost certainly have to get involved even though there is a risk of being bitten. If the fight isn't broken up quickly, one or both of the dogs could suffer serious injury. NEVER grab at the head of a dog fighting--if you can, grab the hind legs and pull them apart.
- Understand that just about any dog can inflict a serious bite. Plenty of people who have the good sense to avoid a huge Rottweiler get bitten because they don't think twice about approaching a feisty little dachshund. As a home health nurse, I had more problems with dogs under 10 pounds ( and I will list no breeds!!) than large dogs going after me trying to bite me.
- If you leave your dog in the yard alone, make sure the yard is securely fenced and/or that the dog is on a chain. Do not leave your dog chained for extended periods, as this is known to foster aggression. I personally do not approve of chaining any dog-I would rather secure my dog inside my fence or a roomy dog kennel.