May 21-26 is National Dog Bite Prevention Week®. According to the American Humane Association, there are over 78 million dogs in the United States. Nearly five million of those dogs have bitten people, and over 350,000 of those people needed emergency room care.
Children are the victims of the majority of those bites. PreventTheBite.com provides educational resources to children to help prevent dog bites. Children learn to recognize the body language of a fearful dog as well as an angry dog and a happy dog.
Dogs don’t bite because they are bad dogs, or because they are trying to gain dominance over people. They bite because they are afraid or feel threatened. Education equals prevention.
Tips on how to approach an unfamiliar dog:
Always ask for permission to pet the dog (if his person is present).
Never pet the dog on top of his head. Many dogs view this as threatening behavior.
Stay relaxed and still, and let the dog approach you, instead of approaching him.
Leave your hands at your side while he approaches, instead of reaching out to him.
Once he has approached you and has shown signs of being comfortable, slowly pet him on the chest, underneath his head, instead of reaching over his head.
If the dog is in an enclosed area such as a crate or even a shopping cart, don’t reach in to greet the dog.
Don’t try and take a toy or food away from the dog.
Do not make loud noises or sudden movements towards the dog.
Don’t touch a dog that appears to be sleeping.
Don’t approach a dog whose hair is raised, is growling, has their ears back and erect, and appears stressed.