According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, dogs bite about 4.7 million people each year. Most of these people are children.
A dog bites out of fear, to protect its territory or to prove dominance over the person bitten. Often owners teach their dogs biting through a form of play behavior, which is a mistake.
Responsible dog ownership includes appropriate socialization, supervision, training, spaying or neutering, and periodic secure confinement, if necessary. Most dog bites can be prevented, and you can significantly reduce your dogs’ risk for biting by following these tips:
• Spay or neuter your dog. It will reduce your dog’s desire to roam or fight with other dogs. Spayed or neutered dogs are much less likely to bite.
• Socialize your dog. Introduce your dog to people so that he will not be frightened or nervous.
• Train your dog. This is a good investment for your family. Every member of the household should be in on the training, and it’s a great way to socialize your dog.
• Teach your dog appropriate behavior. Even in fun, you should not teach your dog to go after people or other animals. Your dog doesn’t know the difference between play or real life. Set appropriate limits. If your dog exhibits dangerous behavior to other animals or people, seek professional help from your veterinarian or dog trainer.
• Be a responsible dog owner. Have your dog licensed as the law requires and provide veterinarian care regularly. Don’t allow your dog to roam or spend a lot of time alone. Dogs who spend a lot of time tied on a chain or alone in the backyard can often become dangerous. Well-socialized dogs are less likely to bite.
• Err on the safe side. Be cautious with your dog in new situations. If your dog overreacts to visitors, put him in another room when someone comes over. If you don’t know how your dog will react in situations, leave him at home.
• Teach children not to chase or tease dogs. It’s important to teach children appropriate behavior around dogs, as children are three times as likely as adults to suffer dog bites. Dogs are uncomfortable with children’s quick movements and loud voices, which can easily result in a dog bite.
• Learn a dog’s body language. A dog bite could occur if the ears are standing up, the fur on the back is standing on end and tail is straight up (possibly wagging), or if she shows her teeth and growls and stares straight at the person.
• Never sneak up on a dog that is sleeping or eating. A startled dog can easily bite.
• Never pet a dog that is in a car or behind a fence. A dog will usually try to protect its territory.