The American Veterinary Medical Association declared this National Dog Bite Prevention Week. You can also Google “dog bite prevention” and find plenty of excellent resources to teach your children and train your dog.
Most dog bites happen in the home with the family dog. Seems counterintuitive. I have a theory that the reason lies within how we interact with them. Most of us don’t realize when we disrespect our dogs. But look at a common situation differently, and it begins to make sense.
What do you do when someone moves in a little too close during a conversation? You move back. We all prefer to keep a couple of feet of personal space, right?
Let’s say they didn’t get the hint. They start backing you into a corner. Talking and talking and talking—so close you can smell their breath.
Totally rude (not to mention gross), right?
You look for a way to back them off. Like some diplomatic excuses about the time. Just as a dog growls when someone is in his or her face and they aren’t comfortable.
They block you from leaving; now what?
You might call out, trying to get someone’s attention for help or at least to divert their attention creating a little space to escape. In other words, you bark a little louder.
Worse still, what if they get touchy-feely? What if they touched your mouth because they liked your lipstick color or put their hands around your neck because they wanted to know if your tie was clip-on or not?
Creepy! What do you do?
You knee them in the bread basket and run. And no one would blame you.
Or, in canine communication terms, you bite them.
(Guys have a harder time if the unwanted attention comes from a lady, but you get the idea.)
So why do we expect so much more from dogs?
Perhaps a lot of dog bite prevention is really about treating our dogs within the realm of how we wish to be treated.
Some Practical Advice for Your Children
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these simple reminders for helping children avoid dog bites, whether in the home or not:
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not run from a dog or scream.
- Remain motionless (e.g., “be still like a tree”) when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
- If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and be still.
- Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
- Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
- Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
- Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
- If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.