It is estimated that there are roughly seventy million pet dogs in America, and while most owners would vehemently deny that their friendly, well-mannered dog would ever bite a human being, the fact remains that any dog can bite in certain circumstances.  It is the intention of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, held during the third full week of May each year, to educate the general public in the reality of dog bites and how to prevent them.

About Dog Bites

Roughly four and a half million people in the United States are bitten by dogs every year, and almost twenty percent of these individuals require medical attention.  This amounts to nearly eight hundred thousand Americans, half of which are children, who are not only bitten by dogs, but who are bitten severely enough that medical attention is necessary.  Unfortunately, children are the most common victims of dog bites and due to their smaller size and lack of caution, they are more likely to be severely injured by a dog bite than an adult.

Fortunately, there are many things that can be done to prevent dog bites from happening, such as:

● Watch for signals in the dog’s body language that indicate he is uncomfortable.  Some of these signals include a tense body, a stiff tail, ears that are flattened back, excessive yawning, flicking tongue, widened and rolled eyes that expose the whites of the eye, intense staring and backing away.

● Never stare at an aggressive dog.  Staring directly at an aggressive dog is a challenge, and they may feel pressured to defend themselves.  It is important to avoid eye contact and remain motionless with your hands at your sides.

● Never turn your back on or run away from an aggressive dog.  A dog’s natural instinct is to chase something that runs from them.  It is far better to calmly back away from the dog until they either turn and walk off or you can safely put some sort of barrier (like a door) between you.

● Avoid approaching any unfamiliar dog without first confirming with his owner that he is friendly and can be pet. This is especially important to teach children, as they often fail to exercise caution when they see unfamiliar dogs around them.  Even when an owner gives permission, it is important to let the dog smell your hand first and always avoid petting their head and face.