Keep Pets and Humans Safe

Kilo the pug head tilt for camera

National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 17-23, 2015).

I always thought my dogs would not bite or fight.  Only “bad” dogs bite.

Then a few years ago, my husband sustained an “accidental” bite on his hand when he tried to break up a fight between our two lovely, normally very gentle, well-trained dogs, Cookie and Isabelle. A few weeks later, without warning, a close friend’s dog attacked a little girl at a barbecue in their garden. She required 20 stitches and reconstructive surgery on her face. We had known the dog since birth and he had seemed fine with kids. He had to be put down and the emotional and financial cost to everyone involved was awful, especially the little girl.

Kilo the pug looking up -Loving Me

Now I have Kilo the Rescue Pug. Pugs are usually thought of as one of the least likely dog breeds to bite. They are friendly little lap dogs and love to cuddle. Kilo is very loving with me and with my family. We all adore him.

However I suspect Kilo might bite another dog or human under certain conditions, so I am very grateful for National Dog Bite Prevention Week. We have to take every precaution possible to keep him and the people and dogs around him safe. He looks so cute, people always want to pat him on our walks. Luckily, I have been pleasantly surprised. Most kids ask first and are very understanding and respectful. Our neighbours have all been very good about helping him too.

Kilo considers the postman and certain strangers that come to the house or pass on the street very serious threats. He is not alone. The U.S. Postal Service reports that 5,581 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2013, and I bet many more smaller incidents went unreported.

According to the AVMA Dog Bite Prevention webpage:

  • Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs.
  • Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention.
  • Every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children.
  • Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured. According to the Center for Disease Control, dog bites were the 11th leading cause of nonfatal injury to children ages 1-4, 9th for ages 5-9 and 10th for ages 10-14 from 2003-2012.
  • Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
  • Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims.


What can you do to prevent dog bites?

  • Do your research before getting a puppy. Make sure you understand the responsibilities and choose the breed that is right for your lifestyle. Dogs that do not get appropriate attention, mental stimulation and exercise may be more likely to develop behavioural issues. Check out our breed library and quiz.
  • Socialize your puppy well with other puppies, dogs, people and situations. Get more information on socialization.
  • Train your puppy in obedience using positive reinforcement (see Training Tuesday posts for tips).
  • Take your puppy/dog to the vet regularly and make sure they are healthy. Some dogs may act out if they have pain or medical issues.
  • Always supervise children, especially small children around dogs. Never leave them alone. Train both the children and the dog how to interact politely and respectfully.
  • Never approach someone else’s dog and try to pat it without asking.
  • Be alert to dangerous situations. Be calm.
  • Do not reach towards dogs tied up, in crates or behind fences. They may feel threatened or territorial.
  • If you do reach out to let a dog sniff your hand with permission, it may be safer to pat under the chin first. Some dogs get frightened by hands coming down above their heads.
  • Do not run past a dog off leash as some dogs like to chase.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is caring for puppies, sleeping or eating.
  • Do not take things away from dogs without precautions (trading, saying drop etc). Some dogs will guard their resources.
  • If a dog looks threatening, avoid eye contact, keep still or back away very slowly. Do not scream. (Having said that, I have seen some trainers use very loud noises as an interruption to distract and sometimes stop an aggressive small dog effectively)
  • If a dog does attack you and you are on the ground, curl in a ball and protect your face.

Find out more about why dogs bite and what you can do to prevent dog bites in this AVMA article:

Dog Bites by the Numbers Infographic I’m getting very excited about next week in Nashville. Join the BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday HOP:

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  • I think the two most important are supervise your children and the unspoken don’t assume others will supervise their children around your dogs. Our dogs are generally amazing around kids. However not all kids are great around dogs and you have to be proactive about protecting your dogs, too. You can’t wait for parents to step up to the plate. If your gut tells you that you need to intervene do it.

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      That’s so true. You have to train and supervise the kids and the dogs. I see people leaving their toddlers poking and pulling – just not safe for either. XS

  • Wow, that is so sad about your friend’s dog and little girl. We had no idea dog bites were so common. What an important topic to raise awareness about – thanks for sharing!

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      I know- it was absolutely terrible as both dads were meant to be watching the girls a few feet away and felt so guilty. One family lost their much loved dog and the girl was mentally and physically scarred for life in a few seconds. So important to never assume and never to put little faces in harm’s way.

  • Such a very important topic! Thank you for sharing this.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      Thanks for stopping by Jenna. It’s a hard topic to discuss but very important for anyone interacting with animals to remember.

  • It is so important to understand and respect animals. Too often parents let children run up to them and grab them around their necks – I am always astounded as I watch the parents take out cameras and smart phones vs. correcting their kids about approaching strange dogs. Thanks for posting this.

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      I know. I would not have worried as much until that terrible incident. My younger daughter and her friends were around our dogs from when they were all babies. Now I am very wary and I always thank and praise kids if they ask.

  • Great post. Our first grey, Ruby,was bitten by our next door neighbor’s American Bulldog. Despite it occurring on our property by an unleashed dog, it was somehow “our fault”. Neither of our greys are/were biters, thankfully.

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      How awful. How annoying they let their dog roam on to your property. I hope Ruby was OK. That’s great that they are not aggressive. Still good to watch with little kids as the kids may be the aggressors without even meaning to be. Thanks for commenting. XS

  • Those are some crazy statistics! I think that the most important things are teaching your children how to interact with animals and supervising those interactions. Kids do dumb things, it’s just a fact of life. Being there to help them learn to make better decisions helps a lot.

  • You always have to keep an eye on kids and dogs. As for seniors, I think they sometimes scare dogs without meaning too, and they are sometimes unsteady which worried dogs too.

  • Such important info to get out there! If only that bite could have been prevented for your friends dog/daughter! What a tragic story.

  • Really great tips. I agree with some of the others about supervising pets and children. Also teaching kids early on that pets are not play things and need to be respected. Your friend’s situation is so sad and tragic for all the family, little girl, and the dog.

    P.S.: We just joined Pinterest and are going to follow you now.

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      Thanks- I know- was so sad and very awkward for me. I’ll look for you too on Pinterest and look forward to meeting in person next week.

  • This is great information. Even though my boys are gentle giants I know that they have sensitivities and I just assume that if I was not their guardian they COULD be pushed to bite. Its better to just assume they would.

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      I really doubt they ever would – they seem so gentle and sweet- but just so much better to be careful as we and our friends found out. XS

  • Good info for everyone to remember! That’s so sad about the dog biting the little girl and it happens much too often unfortunately.

  • Mr. N has a high bite threshold but I’m careful not to let other people push it as much as I can. And people just do dumb things. We have an acquaintance who thinks it’s funny to try to take away Mr. N’s chew while he’s eating. Now I watch their interactions very carefully. We get mobbed by kids all the time due to Mr. N’s stuffed animal looks and kids run up to him and try to hug him. *sigh

  • Good tips. I agree that any dog can bite in the right (or wrong) conditions. And as your husband found out, even an unintentional bite can hurt a lot since dogs’ teeth and jaws are so strong.

    I’d add another tip. If you raise your dog from a puppy, specifically train him to inhibit his bite. We did that with Honey following the guidelines of Dr. Ian Dunbar in After Getting Your Puppy. Even if riled up and playing, if she senses flesh in her mouth, she instantly inhibits her bite. When someone stepped on her tail in an elevator, I was particularly glad we did this additional training.

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      Thanks Pamela. I’ll check out Dr Dunbar’s tips as might be good to do with Kilo. Unfortunately he was “allowed” to chew fingers/hands as a game I think. Hard to untrain this annoying behaviour and teach bite inhibition but he is only 2 so worth the effort.

  • Such great information, and thanks!

    I think it’s especially hard to deal with this issue with small dogs. I find that people always want to pick Sinead up off the ground, and they’ll swoop right down on her with hands outstretched. I know that terrifies her, especially when people squeal when they do it.

    Jean from Welcome to the Menagerie