Dog Bite Prevention Week

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National Dog Bite Prevention Week takes place the second week of April. Dog Bite Prevention Week was created by several organizations including the American Humane Association, Insurance Information Institute & United States Postal Office. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimated that there were about 78 million dogs in the U.S., with at least one dog in 32 percent of U.S households. 

In 2018 dog related injuries accounted for nearly one third of all homeowners' liability claims paid out, costing over $675 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm. Approximately 4.5 million people were bitten by dogs last year. Children make up more than half that number. While we love our pups, it is important to remember that they are animals and they have feelings that we don’t always pick up on.

As a dog owner, the most important things you can do are:

  1. Spay or Neuter Your Dog: Fixed pooches are calmer, healthier and less likely to be aggressive. Neutering helps prevent unwanted dogs that may end up in shelters in less than ideal situations where they may end up aggressive or poorly socialized.
  2. Condition Your Dog for the World: Give your puppy new positive experiences and training using positive methods like treats and clicker training
  3. Supervise Your Dog: Keep a close eye on your dog at all times around children. Do not allow children to hug or kiss any dog.
  4. Train Your Pooch: Take your pup to obedience classes where positive reinforcement is used. Involve older children in training the family pet while supervising. Never allow children to punish the dog. Train the dog to enjoy the presence of children using positive actions.

As a parent, the most important thing you can do is educate your children on dogs and dog behavior, including how they do not like hugs and kisses. Most dogs find this kind of gesture threatening which unfortunately results in bites to the face or neck. Instead, teach children to pet dogs on the chest or side of neck. When children approach a strange dog, never pet the dog with out the owner’s permission first.

Dogs are a valued member of the family and provide humans with so much including unconditional love, protection and comfort. It’s up to us to learn the importance of responsible pet ownership by heeding these safety tips and protecting ourselves, our dogs, and our children.