This month sees National Dog Bite prevention week between 15th and 21st may. Did you know that the majority of dog bites happen to children and the elderly? Of course any of us could be on the receiving end of a bite. But there is good news! There are things that we can all do to help prevent dog bites from happening, so here are some tips….
- To help guard against children being bitten, teach them not to poke and pull dogs around. Also it is worth teaching them not to ‘hug’ a dog face to face and to rather give him a scratch on his chest or the side of his face instead.
- When you are meeting a dog for the first time, look to make sure he isn’t looking scared or tense and if he is, do not approach him rather let him approach you. Do not attempt to pat him on the head as this can be seen as threatening, instead offer the back of your relaxed hand for him to sniff.
- Learn the language! Dogs who may bite can exhibit the following body language:
- Stiff tail or an erect slowly wagging tail
- Flattened back ears
- Tense body
- Flicking tongue
- Staring eyes
- Baring the teeth
If you encounter a dog which looks like it may bite you don’t run away as this can trigger the dog to chase you ( and he is definitely faster than you are!). Instead stand quietly, avoiding eye contact, then slowly back away. If he attacks then try to ‘feed’ him something to bite like a purse or jacket. If you are knocked to the ground then curl in a ball and cover your head and neck with your arms.
Many dog bites can be avoided though, just with responsible pet ownership – training and socialization of puppies is very important to help keep them from feeling that they need to bite in the first place.