National Dog Bite Prevention Week


by Mary Grace Mauney

Our family dog Jessie was a very mellow creature, and never even growled at anyone throughout her thirteen years of life. Yet if someone asked my dad if she bit, his answer was always the same: “All dogs have teeth.” Indeed they do. As much as we love our pets and think the best of them, the fact is that any dog, under certain circumstances, may be driven to bite. That’s why dog bite prevention doesn’t just apply to strange or temperamental dogs, but even to beloved pets you’ve known for years. This is not to say that they are ticking time bombs waiting for the chance to strike, simply that they are animals and sometimes, if something is bothering them, they can’t communicate their distress any other way. Therefore, it is up to us as humans to be aware of what may cause them distress in the first place, and avoid it. Never leave children or babies alone with dog, even a family pet.

Teach children to play nicely with dogs, and not to be rough.

Be sure to properly socialize your dog with strangers and children, and do so when your dog is young if possible.

Always have your dog in a leash in public.

Always ask the owner before approaching and petting their dog.

Teach children not to approach a stray dog, or a dog that is eating or nursing.

Teach children never to take food or toys from a dog.

Exercise your dog regularly to increase mental stimulation and release pent-up energy.

Keep your dog healthy with regular vet check-ups; a sick or injured dog is much more likely to bite.

Do not run if a dog is chasing you.

Most dogs do not like being hugged and kissed; pet them and scratch them instead, and teach children to do the same.

If you see a dog behaving strangely in any way, even a dog you know, do not approach it.

Familiarize yourself with what makes your dog afraid, anxious, or angry, and what best calms them down.

Stay safe, everyone!