For most of us dogs are a part of our household, part of our “family”. We dote on them, spend a small fortune on them (Americans spend $41 billion on their pets each year) and pamper them.
Sometimes, however, our furry friends can turn on us! We tend to forget that they have a mouthful of extremely sharp teeth designed to rip apart meat and if and if certain safety measures aren’t met those teeth can rip into us or our children (Children are the largest percentage of those who are injured).
4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the US each year. 20% of those bites require medical attention. Back in 2006 some 31,000 people had to have reconstructive surgery because of dog bites.
According to the CDC page on dog bite prevention:
Before you bring a dog into your household:
- Consult with a professional (e.g., veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) to learn what breeds of dogs are the best fit for your household.
- Dogs with histories of aggression are not suitable for households with children.
- Be sensitive to cues that a child is fearful or apprehensive about a dog. If a child seems frightened by dogs, wait before bringing a dog into your household.
- Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a dog into a household with an infant or toddler.
If you decide to bring a dog into your home:
- Spay/neuter your dog (this often reduces aggressive tendencies).
- Never leave infants or young children alone with a dog.
- Don’t play aggressive games with your dog (e.g., wrestling).
- Properly socialize and train any dog entering your household. Teach the dog submissive behaviors (e.g., rolling over to expose the abdomen and giving up food without growling).
- Immediately seek professional advice (e.g., from veterinarians, animal behaviorists, or responsible breeders) if the dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.
To help prevent children from being bitten by dogs, teach the following basic safety tips and review them regularly:
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not run from a dog or scream.
- Remain motionless (e.g., “be still like a tree”) when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
- If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (e.g., “be still like a log”).
- Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
- Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
- Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
- Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
- If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.
Check out the CDC page for more information or to listen to a 4:05 minute podcast.