Dog bite prevention week is recognised in many countries between April & May each year to bring attention to the risk of dog bites and share preventative advice. In this article, the team from Clent Hills Vets are sharing important tips and resources to help Worcestershire residents prevent dog bites in children and adults.
April 1st - May 2nd is also National Pet Month, in which responsible pet ownership is the theme and a perfect backdrop for this article’s topic.
13 tips for preventing dog bites
Most dog bites don’t come from dogs who are deemed ‘aggressive’, they occur in the home with family dogs or dogs who are well known. Pets who are described by their owners as placid, loving, and “wouldn’t hurt a fly” can all snap and bite if they feel agitated, threatened, frightened, vulnerable, unwell, or in pain.
As well as the obvious physical injury, a dog bite can cause complex psychological issues. If a dog bites a child (or lunges at them) especially, they can develop a long-term fear of all dogs. Dogs can ‘learn’ that this behaviour is needed to stop the action that is bothering them. This is a real shame as children and dogs can both benefit from forming a close bond together.
Therefore, it is advisable to practice these 13 do’s & don’ts of dog interactions:
- Do choose the right dog breed for your family and home setup – remember, all cute puppies grow into adult dogs with big teeth
- Do ensure your puppy’s (or older dog’s if you missed this stage) socialisation experiences include being around children
- Do train your pet from a puppy into adulthood on how to be well-mannered in the home and out & about
- Don’t use fear to train a dog as this is harmful and can lead to unwanted reactions in everyday situations
- Don’t assume your dog won’t bite just because you perceive it not to be in their nature
- Don’t leave children alone with dogs
- Do teach children from a young age how to behave around dogs, including not playing aggressive games with them, pulling their ears or tail, or anything else that may agitate them
- Do act calm around dogs, especially if they are unfamiliar to you
- Do supervise children feeding or walking a dog
- Don’t let your child discipline a dog
- Don’t invade a dog’s space without their permission – let them come to you (avoid letting young children hug & kiss dogs)
- Do teach children to always ask the owner’s permission to stroke their dog and where the dog likes to be stroked
- Don’t allow your child to approach a dog in someone else’s garden or car
Socialisation & training
Socialisation should ideally be started around 8 – 16 weeks of age, when a puppy’s brain is like a sponge absorbing all the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, experiences, and opportunities to learn that they can. Most older dogs can be socialised too with a little more time and patience.
Socialisation and training (into adulthood) are not about obedience. They are about building confidence and developing clear communication with your dog. If your dog understands your request and how to respond to it and has self-confidence, they are less likely to get fearful or frustrated, which are both common causes of dog bites.
Ask our Bromsgrove nurses for puppy socialisation advice on our Facebook page here
Learn how to be safe around dogs
The team from Clent Hills Vets recommend these helpful resources below to help your whole family become smarter and safer around dogs.
First, take our Dog Safety Quiz to test how much your family members currently know.
Then, work through these Dogs Trust resources and get everyone to re-take our Quiz.
Remember, don’t give the answers away until after retaking the quiz!
Let us know how you got on by sharing your results on our Facebook Page
Download our Dog Safety Quiz