10 Important Lessons in Dog Safety

When I was a kid my best friend was seriously injured by a Chow. While I don’t know much about the general temperament of this breed, I know my friend had incredibly serious injuries resulting in multiple surgeries and months of physical therapy, only to be left with a lifetime of extensive nerve damage to her arm and shoulder.

In a no way similar case, my son was bit by our neighbor’s dog when he was two year old. While I’m fortunate to report that the bite was mild, the fear remains very real.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, over 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs annually. 4.7 MILLION! Worst of all, over half of those bitten are children under the age of 14.

When I learned May 20th-26th was National Dog Bite Prevention Week, I realized just how little I knew about dog bite prevention. With that frightening 4.7 million people statistic hanging over my head, I embarked on a quest to learn more.

In an effort to educate the public on dog bite prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Veterinary Medical Association and the US Postal Service joined forces to offer these important tips on dog safety:

1. Pick a good match. Collies and Labrador retrievers are some of the animals recommended as generally safe with children. Consult your veterinarian for details about the behavior of different breeds.

2. Socialize your pet. Gradually expose your puppy to a variety of people and other animals so it feels at ease in these situations; continue this exposure as your dog gets older.

3. Train your dog. Commands can build a bond of obedience and trust between man and beast. Avoid aggressive games like wrestling or tug-of-war with your dog.

4. Vaccinate your dog against rabies and other diseases.

5. Neuter your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to bite.

6. Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.

7. Teach your child to see if the dog is with an owner and looks friendly. Then ask the owner for permission to pet the dog. Let the dog sniff your child and have your child touch the dog gently, avoiding the face, head and tail.

8. Tell your child not to bother a dog if it is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.

9. Tell your child not to run past a dog.

10. If you’re threatened by a dog, remain calm. Avoid eye contact. Stand still until the dog leaves or back away slowly. If you are knocked down, curl into a ball and protect your face with your hands. If a dog bites your child, clean small wounds with soap and water and seek medical attention for larger wounds. Contact the dog’s veterinarian to check vaccination records.

For more detailed information on the above safety tips, as well as what to do if your dog bites someone or you are bitten, consult What You Should Know About Dog Bite Prevention.

Have you or your child ever been bitten by a dog?

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