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Posts Tagged ‘prevent dog bites’

May 18th through 24th is National Dog Bite Prevention Week.

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On Tuesday, we discussed how to prevent dog bites at home, including how to read canine body language. Avoiding dog bites at home is only half the equation, though. Understanding your own dog’s moods and idiosyncrasies is one thing — but what of the unfamiliar dog?

These tips may prevent or stop an attack by other dogs:

  • Never leave children unsupervised around dogs. Children are the most frequent victims of dog bites.
  • Teach your children not to approach strange dogs. 
  • Children should be taught to ask permission from the dog’s owner before petting it. Some dogs do not like being petted, so remind kids that sometimes the answer will be “NO.” 
  • Don’t run past a dog. Dogs love to chase and catch things. Don’t give them a reason to become excited or aggressive.
  • If a dog approaches to sniff you — stay still. In most cases, the dog will go away when it determines you’re not a threat.
  • If you’re threatened by a dog, remain calm. (We know — this can be tough!) Speak calmly and firmly, if you must talk. Avoid eye contact with the dog. Stay still until he leaves, or back away slowly until he is out of sight. Don’t turn and run.
  • If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your head and neck, and protect your face.
  • Dogs that travel in pairs or packs can become dangerous when they spot a target. If you see stray* dogs traveling together in your neighborhood, stay indoors and contact your local animal control officers.

*In this context, “stray” refers to dogs that are homeless or have escaped their yard.

If you are bitten:

  • Seek medical care.
  • Contact authorities and tell them everything you can about the dog, including its owner’s name, color/breed/size of the dog, and where you saw the dog (if animal control officers need to locate it.)
  • You have the right to know the dog’s Rabies vaccination status. The owner will be asked to provide this information to animal control officers who will then inform you of the pet’s status. Depending on this information, you may need to receive Rabies post-exposure vaccines as a precaution.

Information for this article was adapted from “Don’t worry, they won’t bite,” a brochure provided by the AVMA, Insurance Information Institute, and State Farm, and is available at our office.

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Every year, thousands of people seek emergency medical treatment for dog bites. How can you avoid being one of them? Follow these tips from State Farm Insurance and the American Veterinary Medical Association:

“Be cautious around strange dogs and treat your own pet with respect. Because children are the most frequent victims of dog bites, parents and caregivers should:

  • NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
  • Be on the lookout for potentially dangerous situations.
  • Start teaching young children — including toddlers — to be careful around pets.
     “Children must be taught NOT to approach strange dogs. Children should be taught to ask permission from a dog’s owner before petting the dog.”
     “Other tips that may prevent or stop a dog attack:
  • Don’t run past a dog. Dogs naturally love to chase and catch things. Don’t give them a reason to become excited or aggressive.
  • Never disturb a dog that’s caring for puppies, sleeping or eating.
  • If a dog approaches to sniff you — stay still. In most cases, the dog will go away when it determines you are not a threat.
  • If you’re threatened by a dog, remain calm. Don’t scream. If you say anything, speak calmly and firmly. Avoid eye contact. Try to stay still until the dog leaves, or back away slowly until the dog is out of sight. Don’t turn and run.
  • If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your head and neck. Protect your face.”
     These tips and more are available in a brochure at our office.

When he’s this close, can you tell if he’s smiling or snarling? Luckily, this guy was happy to meet me. Photo by Jennifer Miele

     I love big dogs.  We have some real doozies come through here:  French, Italian, and English mastiffs, gargantuan Great Danes, supersized German Shepherds, daunting Dobermans, Rottweilers built like a brick house, even a Saint Bernard or two. Large dogs are huggable, squeezable drool machines, and with the proper training they are great company. But any dog, any size, any breed can bite. While a small pooch can deliver a nasty injury, large dogs hold a greater potential for harm. For that reason, I believe owners of large dogs have a serious responsibility to train and control their pets at all times, but especially in public.
     Even though I’ve worked in a veterinary clinic for a couple of decades, I have no secret weapon for fending off aggressive dogs. I have had my share of scares while hiking through state parks and other public places where dog owners keep their pets on a long leash or no leash at all.  Admittedly, it is quite difficult to keep cool when approached by a hostile animal. The worst part is how the owners seem to move in slow-motion to stop the dog, as if they are absolutely certain their pet won’t bite. But who wants to be on the receiving end of their incorrect assumption?
     Luckily, I was never bitten in those encounters, although the dogs certainly got close enough. My usual response is to turn sideways to the approaching animal (rather than face it head-on), arms at my sides, and staring straight ahead as if ignoring it. I’ve managed to hold this stance even while the dog tries to intimidate me with its growling, snarling, and bared teeth.
     Eventually, the pet owner catches up and calls off Fluffy, the raging Golden Retriever (scarier even than my encounter with a couple of roving German Shepherds), and all is well. Except I can never seem to look those people in the eye, because if I do, it might end with me growling, snarling, and baring my teeth at them. That’s how I feel about folks who insist on walking large dogs off-leash in public parks.  ~~  Jen
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What’s your opinion on walking dogs off-leash in public areas? Do you love it? Hate it? Don’t care? Have you ever had a scary encounter with a dog? Tell me about it in the comments section.

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