Nationwide statistics underscore the need to raise awareness around the dangerous problem of dog bites, and to educate the public about what can be done in the way of prevention. According to the American Veterinary Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 4.7 million Americans suffer from dog bites each year. The severity of the bites obviously varies, but 885,000 people are injured seriously enough each year to require medical attention. Twelve people die due to mortal wounds.
While these numbers are both staggering and alarming, some of the most surprising facts may be that 61 percent of dog bites occur within pet owners’ homes, and 43 percent of all dog bites involve children being bitten by the family dog. As such, parents can take a large “bite” out of these high incidence rates simply by learning some basic guidelines that will help their children avoid getting bit by their own dogs.
“Many of the tips we give our clients are pretty straightforward and appeal to one’s commonsense, but they have proven very successful and are based on what we have experienced and learned over our 20 years of training dogs,” stated Liam Crowe, Bark Busters’ president, CEO and master trainer. “For example, under no circumstances should a baby be left alone with a dog, and young children should never walk or feed the dog unsupervised. Parents should never allow a young child to discipline their dog, pull on the dog’s collar or play aggressive games with them. What parents should do is teach their dog to be submissive and respond to verbal commands.”
Of course, dog bites are not restricted to children. The following tips can help reduce the chances of adults being attacked by an approaching dog:
• Don’t try to make friends with a dog;
• Stand still, stand tall and don’t move a muscle until the dog loses interest in you – don’t try to run away;
• Allow the dog to smell you but don’t put your hand out – let the dog come close to you on its own terms;
• Face the dog at all times but don’t make eye contact with the dog or stare – it can be perceived as a sign of aggression;
• Back away slowly, watching the dog from the corner of your eye;
• If the dog knocks you down, roll up into a fetal position with your arms covering your head and neck and play dead; don’t fight back.
Dogs can be wonderful, loving companions. To keep yourself and your dog happy and safe, act responsibly. By following the above tips, you can help reduce the risk of your dog biting others, or getting bit by a strange dog yourself.
Nikki Winchell is a dog behavioral therapist and trainer with Bark Busters, the world’s largest dog training company. Bark Busters trainers, who have trained more than 500,000 dogs worldwide, are renowned authorities in correcting dog behavior with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers guaranteed lifetime support. For more information, call 1-877-500-BARK (2275) or visit www.BarkBusters.com.
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