Monday, May 18, 2009

It's Dog Bite Prevention Week

It's Dog Bite Prevention Week, which runs from May 17-23. Although many of our furry pals may feel they are being unnecessarily singled out, the US Postal Service who sponsors the week may have a point.

We must take responsibility for the behavior of our pets and that includes training Fido to be a good citizen. If your dog charges the door every time someone rings the bell, consult a trainer and learn how to keep him calm when someone visits.

And, being a responsible dog owner means knowing you dog's limits. Therefore, if Fido is scared of kids, don't walk him near a playground.

In addition, never let your pooch roam free. A dog off leash can be hit by a car, stolen or abused. Moreover, a roaming dog can attack if he feels threatened.

Socializing your dog to new people, new dogs and new situations is important too. If Fido become anxious or scared, he's more likely to bite as a defense mechanism. Spaying or neutering a dog is also a factor in reducing aggression.

Whether you are 3 or 103, everyone must be taught these additional safety rules:
  • Don't reach your hand out to pet a dog until you ask the owner if the dog is amenable to the contact. If you get the OK, allow the dog to sniff your hand and see you first. The dog is less likely to be spooked if she can see and smell who is touching her.
  • Don't allow children to play unsupervised with any dog, even your pet. Likewise, teach your children not to pull of the dog's tail or fur.
  • Leave a dog alone while he's eating, sniffing or caring for puppies. Bothering a dog in these situations can cause her to become protective.
  • Be kind to your dog. Dogs that are chained outside and left alone or abused are more likely to be come aggressive.
As dog lovers, we want to protect our furry family members. One way to help Fido (and all dogs) thrive is to learn how to prevent dog bites. Check out these websites for more information:

Most dogs give warning signs before they bite, so click here for the ASPCA's information about reading canine body language.

ASPCA's information for teaching kids to prevent dog bites.
American Humane: great fact sheet loaded with information
Humane Society of the US: this article also includes an informative video.

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