7 Tips To Prevent Dog Bites

May 19 – 25 is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Help me celebrate and educate! Only YOU can prevent forest fires- err, I mean dog bites!

But really, how we behave around dogs- both known and unknown to us- is key in reducing the number of dog bites.

Reporting dog bites in Larimer County- it’s the law!

Did you know any dog bite that breaks skin, occuring in Fort Collins, is required by law to be reported to Larimer Humane Society Animal Protection and Control? Even if the injury is not severe, it is required to report the incident.

In the last year 794 dog bites in Larimer County were reported to Larimer Humane Society Animal Protection and Control.

National dog bite statistics

Let’s look at some national statistics on dog bites, provided by American Veterinary Medical Foundation:

  • Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs.
  • Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention.
  • Every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children.
  • Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.
  • Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
  • Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims.

So how can you prevent dog bites?

7 Tips to Prevent Dog Bites

01. Know that any dog, I repeat, any dog can bite!

All dogs of all shapes, sizes, breeds, and temperaments can bite.

No matter how long you’ve known the dog or how sweet and cute the dog appears, the dog may bite. Most people are bitten by their own dog, or a dog they know.

Be aware of yourself, your surroundings, and the dogs in your company. And don’t fall into the trap of believing only certain breeds are likely to bite!

02. Never leave babies or small children alone with dogs.

Your beloved family pet is far more likely to bite a child than an adult. Babies and small children are unpredictable and may act in a way that stimulates or threatens a dog, causing the dog to respond instinctively.

03. Avoid disturbing a dog while it’s eating or sleeping.

Dogs can be territorial and may protect their space and/or resources- especially when disturbed.

04. Be cautious when approaching unknown dogs.

Avoid running up to unknown dogs, putting your hands in their face, or leaning over the dog- all of these behaviors may appear threatening to a fearful or anxious dog.

The safest way to approach an unknown dog, after getting the owner’s approval, is to stand sideways and bend your knees, letting the dog approach you.

Be aware responsible owner’s may tie a yellow ribbon on their dog’s leash to let indicate the dog should not be approached due to health issues, because the dog is in training, or due to fear or aggression concerns.

yellow ribbon project

05. Ask before petting.

Always approach a dog’s owner first and ask before petting someone’s dog. Give the dog’s owner the opportunity to let you know if the dog is fearful.

Asking before petting also gives the dog’s owner the chance to focus their dog’s attention and give the dog a sit or sit-stay command before the dog is approached for petting.

06. Avoid chained dogs (and do not chain your dog(s)!)

Dogs that are kept chained up in the yard are far more likely to bite than dogs that are treated as family pets. Dogs left chained in yards do not learn the same social behaviors and cues as those that are part of the family.

Additionally, chained dogs are more likely to experience boredom and frustration that could lead to aggressive behavior.

07. Spay/neuter your pets.

The majority of dog bites that cause serious injury happen with dogs that are not spayed or neutered. There are plenty of low cost spay/neuter programs in and around Fort Collins so there’s just no excuse not to spay/neuter your pets!

For more information on dog bite prevention, check out the infographic below, and visit the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dog Bites by the Numbers

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