Top 12 Ways to Prevent Dog Bites

Friday, August 30, 2013

girl-petting-bulldogAccording to the City of Calgary Animal and Bylaw Services, there has been a steady rise in dog ownership in Alberta's largest city. In 1995, for instance, there were around 50,000 dogs in the city and about 700,000 people. Fifteen years later, ownership has soared to more than 122,325 dogs in a metro area of 1 million people.

Because many kids and adults are dog lovers and so many pooches are out walking with their masters, it's natural to want to approach them. However, it's a good idea to err on the side of caution and not approach dogs that are unfamiliar.

With the following tips from the City of Calgary, you may want to make certain issues clear with your kids before they head off to school:

  • If a dog is sleeping or eating, make sure to tell your son or daughter not to go near them. This can be disturbing for the dog and may cause it to react violently.
  • Teasing should always be avoided. While some dogs may view this as a form of play, tempers vary and some may construe it as a threat.
  • Adult dogs are protective animals. This is especially true for those with puppies. Stress that your child should never pick up a puppy when a grown dog is around his or her young.
  • When threatened by a dog, advise your child to stay still. Running away may cause the dog to run as well. It's better to stand perfectly straight and look down to the ground. This will tell the dog that they're not a threat.

These are some of the basic ground rules for dogs overall. However, if your son or daughter knows a dog's owner or is familiar with them, there's nothing wrong with approaching them, so long as they ensure the dog is prepared:

  • Before petting the dog, make sure your child asks the owner first whether or not they can pet him or her.
  • If given the go-ahead, remind your child to allow the dog to sniff their hand. This will show that they aren't a threat.
  • While the natural inclination may be to pet the dog's head, it's best to pet under the chin. Many dogs don't like to be pet on top of their head.

If you yourself are a dog owner - or have recently become one - there are a few important things to keep in mind. One of them being that one of the most common claims for home insurance in Alberta relates to dog bites. The same is true in the U.S., as according to the Insurance Information Institute, one-third of all homeowners insurance claims are for medical injuries sustained after dog bites.

  • Before allowing a friend, relative or neighbor to pet your dog, be sure to be aware of its temperament. Some dogs are more given to bite than others, yet there is no correlation between the specific breed and biting incidents.
  • If you haven't already, have your pet neutered. This not only controls the pet population, but it helps to make them less aggressive and more at ease.
  • Be aware of your dog's triggers and what may set them off.
  • Avoid aggressive games that may lead to a bite, such as tug of war or using pulling toys.
  • Many breeds, such as pit bulls and Rottweiler’s have been given a bad reputation for being aggressive. The truth is that these ‘bad breeds’ are often less inclined to be violent than many smaller breeds. The American Veterinary Medical Association, the CDC, and the Humane Society of the United States, tested the statistics of dog bites over a 20 year period and discovered that no particular breed is inherently more dangerous than others. Don’t let these stereotypes affect you or your child’s behavior around these canines. 

With these recommendations, you can ensure that you don't run into problems with your own dogs or when your child is around them on the way to school.