Dogs are often much-loved family members, but they can also pose a risk to other people. Over 4 million people sustain dog bites each year in the United States, and around 800,000 of those bites require medical attention. Almost half of dog bite victims are children.
Understanding how to avoid dog bites is of paramount importance to both dog owners and non-owners alike. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dog owners should take both social and practical responsibility for their pets, and everybody should understand when it is not appropriate to approach a dog.
Taking full responsibility
Often, preventing dog bites starts with choosing the right breed for your family. Some dog breeds are more tolerant of children than others: if children are present in your home, you should not choose an aggressive breed. Dogs of all breeds require regular exercise, and dog owners should always spay or neuter their animals to keep them less aggressive.
Owners also must take the time to socialize their dogs. A dog that becomes used to humans at a young age is less likely to bite when older. Always use a leash in public so that you can control your dog at all times.
Both children and adults should ask an owner’s permission before interacting with a dog, as not all dogs are friendly toward strangers. It is never a good idea to approach an unfamiliar dog without its owner, and you should never touch a dog while it is eating or sleeping.
Understanding dog body language is also very important. If a dog looks stressed, it is better to avoid the dog. Everybody taking proper precautions around dogs will greatly reduce the risk of bites.