Dog Bites: What Owners Can Do To Prevent Their Dogs From Hurting Others

Did you know that almost half of all bites involve a dog owned by the victim’s family or neighbors? What’s more, of the 4.5 million people bitten by dogs in the U.S. each year, over half are children. With the potential danger so close to home, it’s essential all owners take the proper steps to control their dogs and educate their children on pet safety. Below are a few tips on how to prevent your dog from attacking other animals or people.

First, it’s important to note any dog may bite if provoked. Whether they’re big or small, male or female, young pups or our oldest furry friends, every dog has teeth and animal instincts. Also, biting is not dependent on breed. While some breeds are identified as being more aggressive than others, any dog may attack if it feels threatened. Likewise, every dog bite carries the risk of infection. That’s why, in the event of a bite, it’s vital to act quickly, copiously irrigate the wound, and seek medical attention — or even legal support if necessary.

A dog may bite for various reasons but, most commonly, it is as a reaction to something. Unusual situations, loud noises, and other factors unfamiliar to a dog can scare or startle it. When these circumstances escalate and the dog feels threatened, it may bite to defend itself. The dog may also react this way to protect something else, like territory, food, toys, puppies, or their owner. Dogs may also bite if they are unwell. Often, we think of rabies as causing animals to attack others, but this affliction isn’t the only health issue that can cause a dog to suddenly behave aggressively. The dog could be injured and in pain. The instinct to defend itself could also be the symptom of an illness or even previous trauma.

What can owners do to prevent aggression? To begin, there’s covering the basics of being a responsible pet owner. These include spaying or neutering pets, ensuring they get regular exercise, and giving proper training at a young age. Another good way is to introduce the dog to other animals and people while still a puppy. Referred to as socializing, this approach could help a dog feel more comfortable in different situations as it ages and give the owner more confidence in their control of the pet. Owners should also learn and teach their children to recognize which situations to avoid and how to prevent risky ones from escalating.

A final tip for owners, children, and everyone else is to learn how to read a dog’s body language. A dog can communicate its discomfort or anxiety through body language, tail positioning, and more to someone familiar with the dog. These signals could also help people understand when it’s okay to approach an unfamiliar dog and when it’s not.

For further ways to prevent a dog bite, please see the accompanying resource.

Infographic courtesy of Van Sant Law, Atlanta’s top personal injury claim lawyers

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