Millions of people are bitten by dogs every year and most of those bitten are children. The insurance information institute estimates that in 2013, insurers across the country paid nearly $500 million in dog bite claims. In an effort to reduce the number of dog bites, this week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. I think this is very important because so many dog bites can be prevented. The first step in preventing dog bites is using common sense. Many bites occur in the home. Make sure children and dogs aren’t left in the same room without some adult supervision. And something can happen very quickly, so don’t even leave for a moment. If you or your kids aren’t in a position to be bitten by a dog, you won’t be bitten. Even if you don’t have a dog in your home, there are some things you need to be aware of in case you are confronted with a dog.
Sandy Watson, co-owner, of Dog School 101, is a certified dog trainer. She says you can take some cues from a dog before approaching it. “Don’t think a wagging dog is a happy dog,” she says. “Don’t approach a dog if it is behind its owner. Also watch its hackles to see if they are raised. You don’t want to approach that dog because it is not at ease.” Watson also says it’s important not to lower your face to the dog’s level because it can feel threatened. When you are playing with a dog, don’t hold its toy near your face. The dog may jump up to get the toy and get your face instead. The same thing applies with food. Children should be told not to tease a dog or hold food where the dog can get it.
You should teach your children to treat strange dogs like strange people. Don’t let them approach one Children are such frequent victims because they are close to eye level with the dog. For some more information about this, The American Veterinary Medical Association has a CD available for sale for families to try and prevent dog bites. The ASPCA has some notes about reading a dog’s state of mind on its website.
When our dog walkers at Fetch! Pet Care are with a client’s dog and a child approaches the dog, we ask that it not pet it this time. You never know how the pet may react when it’s with our sitter and not the owner. If you are approached by a dog that’s not on a leash, Watson has some simple advice. “Stand like a tree. If it knocks you down, lie like a log.” Any sudden movements could spook the dog.
If all these things don’t work and you are bitten, what are the first aid steps you should take? According to WebMD, if there’s blood; use a clean towel to stop the bleeding. Keep the wound elevated if possible. It should be cleaned with soap and water as quickly as possible. Use an antibiotic ointment daily to prevent infection. If it’s a serious wound, seek medical treatment. You should try and get as much information as possible about the dog, including vaccination history and other medical info. That can help the doctor with treatment.
Hopefully, you and your family won’t have to deal with a dog bite. Just follow some common sense rules and your time with the dog will be fun. That’s the way it’s supposed to be!
Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA. You can see the happy pets by checking out our Instagram page at http://instagram.com/fetchnwatlanta/.