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Safety Tips: Dog Bite Prevention

Nearly 5 million people report dog bites each year in the United States and nearly one fifth of these need professional medical attention. While no one wants to imagine their dog biting someone or being bitten by a dog, all dogs have their limits, and any dog no matter breed, size or age can bite. It is important to do everything possible to set an animal up for success if they are in a stressful situation. In this blog, we will cover some basic information to help prevent dog bites and lower the chance of you or someone else being injured.

As A Pet Owner

There are things you can do to help reduce the chance of a bite to yourself or others. Socialization and positive activities can help reduce the chance of your dog feeling pushed to biting. The points below should start from the moment your pet joins your family. 

  • Safely socialize your dog in playgroups, training groups, and with other dogs you trust to help build your dog’s confidence and tolerance with other animals and strangers. 
  • Use regular physical and mental stimulation like walks, puzzles, chew treats, and training to help with your pet’s temperament and response to directions and cues. 
  • Spay or neuter your dog to help regulate hormones and temperament.
  • Always walk your dog on a leash.
  • Never tether your dog.
  • Never leave young children unattended with a pet. Teach them from the beginning not to touch a dog’s face, pull its tail or tease it. 
  • Discourage excessively rough play.
Follow A Dog's Lead

Whether you are interacting with your own dog, a friend’s pet or a loose dog you are trying to help, always take note of the dog’s body language. If a dog appears stiff, is backing away from you or growling, then do not approach it or try to touch it.

  • When approaching a dog, never reach over their head. Stand in a relaxed manner and extend your palm to them. Allow them to come to you. Teach this to children as well.
  • If a person allows you to pet their dog and the dog moves away from you, do not try and force it. Stay still and see if the dog will come to you on its own.
  • If a person denies you permission to touch their pet, respect that. Do not try to entice the animal to you, their owner has set a boundary and it may be for your safety.
  • If a loose dog approaches you, remain as still and calm as possible. Watch the dog to see what body language it is displaying. If needed, put a safe distance or barrier between you and the dog.  
  • If you are trying to help a loose dog (whether you know the dog or not) and the dog is growling, has raised hackles (hair on its back standing up) or is refusing to come near you, do not force the dog, and where possible, seek assistance from animal services officers.

And remember, every dog is an individual and what one dog may enjoy or tolerate could be a quick trigger for another. Like us, dogs are a product of their experiences and handling and some may need more assistance or training than others.

Top 10 Easy Ways to Prevent Dog Bites

1.Spay or neuter your dog. Neutered pets are calmer, healthier and less likely to be aggressive.

2. Never punish your dog. A dog should never be punished for deeds you do not like, but rather corrected. A correction is when you give a command of disapproval at the moment the deed is about to be done or is being done. A punishment is anything thereafter.

3. Socialize dogs while they are young.

4. Exercise your dog daily.

5. Keep your dog on a leash when outside, but never on a tether.

6. Teach your children not to hug or kiss a dog on the face.

7. Be a tree if a strange dog approaches. Stand still with arms lowered like a tree, and look down. Never run.

8. Never approach a strange dog.

9. Never tease a dog.

10. Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or protecting something.

If you are bitten by a dog call 911 and seek medical treatment. If possible, get owner’s and/or witness’s contact information.

Keep your pet healthy and licensed. Licensing is required in DeKalb and Fulton counties. Report dog bites, tethered dogs, and unlicensed dogs to 404.613.0358.

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