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Dog Bites: Prevent Dog Bites

9 Tips to Prevent Dog Bites

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Dog Bites: Prevent Dog Bites

Even a Chihuahua puppy can bite and cause damage.

Image © Amy Shojai, CABC

Dog bites injure nearly 5 million people every year. Half of all kids in the United States get bitten by age 12, and five-to-nine-year-old boys are at highest risk. You can prevent dog bites, it doesn’t have to happen. Most dog bites result from inappropriate interaction with the family pet, with a neighbor’s or a friend’s dog—or even your puppy.

Dog bites not only hurt you or your kids, they result in pricy medical bills and insurance rates. Dog bites can lose your puppy his home or even his life. But you can teach your puppy bite inhibition to protect him, and teach yourself and your kids ways to be safe with these 9 easy tips.

9 Tips To Prevent Dog Bites

  • Respect Doggy Space. Children should not approach, touch or play with any dog who is sleeping or eating. Mom-dogs caring for puppies are especially protective. Even friendly puppies may react with a bite if they feel their food or toys might be stolen by a playful child.

  • Ask First. Always ask permission of the owner before petting. Before touching, let the puppy sniff a closed hand. Remember that petting the top of the puppy's head can look threatening from a puppy perspective, so instead scratch the front of his chest, neck or stroke underneath the dog’s chin.

  • Supervise. Accidents happen even with friendly dogs. Kids, toddlers—and puppies—make mistakes. An adult should always be present when kids and dogs mix.

  • Nix the Hugs and Kisses.Kids get bitten on the face most often when they try to hug or kiss the dog. It’s much safer to show your puppy love with a scratch on the chest or side of the neck.

  • Alert Adults. If a child sees a dog off-leash outside, he should tell an adult immediately.

  • Look Away. Eye contact with a dog can be interpreted as a threat or challenge, and set off an otherwise calm dog.

  • Be A Tree. Teach your child to stand still and quiet around strange dogs—be a tree. Trees are boring, so the dog will go away or at least not be excited. Walking, running, arm-waving and high-pitched loud talking, giggling, and laughing excites the dog even further and invites dogs to play chase and bite games. Even friendly dogs may bite out of enthusiasm, just as well-behaved children might accidentally strike out and hurt a classmate during play. That also works to calm down a puppy that gets too excited during play.

  • Be A Log. If a puppy knocks the child down, teach her to roll up in a ball and be still—like a log—until the dog goes away. Movement encourages the game of jumping, tugging and wrestling and can escalate the dog’s excitement and tendency to bite.

  • Train the Puppy. Teach your puppy with love. Dogs bullied or hurt during training can get pushy or aggressive to weaker family members—the kids. Clicker training is a kind and effective way to train. Teach kids to enjoy and respect puppies, and socialize the puppy to kids, and they will grow up to enjoy and love each other.

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