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All About Dog Bites

Posted by Awesome Doggies

dog-ready-to-biteQ: How many dog bites happen every year in the United States?

A: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia reports that nearly 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year. One in five dog bites results in injuries serious enough to require medical attention. That's about 885,000 people who require medical attention for dog bite-related injuries; half of these are children. In 2012, more than 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of being bitten by dogs.

The US experiences approximately 10 to 20 fatalities every year due to dog bites. Most of the victims by far are kids. In a three-year period between 1999 and 2001, 33 individuals died after being bitten by a pet, and most of these victims (24 of 33) were under 12 years of age.

Q: Why do dogs bite?

A: Many reasons can prompt a dog to bite. Some owners allow their pets to think that biting is an appropriate type of play. Dogs also will bite to protect their territory, or out of fear, or in an attempt to establish dominance over the person bitten. And every year a number of newborn infants die from being bitten by dogs who see them as "prey." Because dog bites occur for a variety of reasons, many components of responsible dog ownership—including proper training, socialization, supervision, and appropriate confinement—all contribute to prevent biting. We've posted previously on how to make your own dog less likely to bite.

Q: Which dogs bite most frequently? Are some types more likely to bite than others?

A: There are some breeds most frequently associated with both bite casualties and injuries, but it varies from year to year and can even vary from one region to another. Genetic makeup does play some part in a dog's propensity to bite, but other aspects such as whether the animal is neutered, well socialized, appropriately trained and humanely treated have much more influence. Responsible pet ownership is a key factory in preventing dog bites.


Q: What can we teach kids to help avoid dog bites?

A: Keep it simple when teaching children to be safe around pets. Some basic pointers for kids include:

  • Leave your dog alone when it’s asleep or eating. Food aggression is a common issue, especially with rescue pets.

  • Never tease dogs by taking their toys, food or treats, or by pretending to hit or kick.

  • Never pull a dog’s ears or tail, climb on or try to ride dogs.

  • Make it a family rule that when a dog goes to bed or to his/her crate, it shouldn't be bothered there. Children need to understand the dog's bed or crate is their space to be left alone.

  • Teach kids that the dog has to want to play with them. Explain that when the dog tries to get away from playing with them, they must let him leave. He’ll come back to play more if he feels like it. This is easy way for children to understand when their pet wants to play and when he doesn't.

  • Don’t let kids drag the dog around and don’t let them dress up the dog if your pet is at all intolerant.

  • Keep dogs out of infants’ and young children’s rooms unless there is direct and constant supervision.

  • When away from home, avoid unknown dogs. If you see a loose dog that you don’t know, avoid the pet and consider alerting animal control.

  • Don’t ever pat someone else's dog without asking first -- even if it’s a dog you know, or a dog that’s been friendly before. Always ask the pet owner for permission before petting.

For more information, check out this video of tips and examples on how children can stay safe with dogs:

Q: What should you do when approached by an aggressive dog?

A: Follow these steps:

  • Don't yell, run, hit or make sudden movements toward an aggressive dog, as these actions are likely to make a tense situation worse.

  • If possible, quietly walk away.

  • If the dog goes after you, “be a tree.” This means, standing quietly, with their hands low and clasped in front of them, remaining still and keeping their head down as if looking at their feet.

  • If the dog does attack, "feed" him your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.

  • If you get knocked down, curl up into a ball and cover your head and neck with your arms.

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