Education is the key to many things, including safety and wellbeing in our homes. This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. It’s the perfect time to reflect on how we can better understand our canine companions, educate and guide children of all ages, and share what we have learned over the years with everyone we know. It’s also important to set aside judgement and focus on compassionate education.
- There is an estimated population of 70 million dogs living in U.S. households right now.
- Nearly 5 million (reported) dog bites occur in the United States each year.
- Most of these bites involve children.
- Children love to kiss and hug dogs, even though these expressions of affection do not translate well in the dog world.
- Fast movements can stimulate a dog’s prey drive and/or chase instinct.
- Higher pitched voices can sometimes startle a dog and make it fearful.
- A dog can be frustrated through rough play or by teasing and a child can inadvertently inflict pain with the pull of a tail or a poke in the eye.
- It is also hard for a child to read and understand a dog’s body language, therefore missing vital signals that can put them in harm’s way.
- Children are most likely to be bitten in the face as they are closer to a dog’s eye level making it easier for a dog to feel threatened by eye to eye contact.
- The majority of reported dog bites occur between the family dog and a family member.
- It is unlikely that you will be injured by a dog you do not know.
- Dog breed does not predict behavior.
Any resource that lists dogs who are “most likely to bite” by breed are a distraction from preventions that actually work. Visual breed identification is notoriously unreliable, breed does not predict behavior, and there is no standard reporting system for reporting or recording dog bites (nor is there a need for a system). Articles focused on breed are an easy way to get “clicks”. It’s fear mongering, not fact-based reporting. ~Animal Farm Foundation
Check out this graphic from the National Canine Research Council. This graphic puts (reported) national dog bites into perspective. We need to focus on facts, not fear when educating. In rare occasions (0.01%) dog bites result in an incredible amount of physical damage. However, this still means that we need to understand what happened, so we can prevent it! You can read more about this here.
Here’s the GOOD News: We can change those statistics! The majority of dog bites, if not all, are preventable. That’s where YOU come in.
It’s our duty as dog guardians, parents, educators, and family members to teach children how to understand and respect our canine companions. Kids are great imitators; let’s show them what we want them to imitate!
If we want to become serious about preventing dog bites, and rehoming family dogs, we need to encourage and teach appropriate supervision habits at home. This excellent video from Family Paws Parent Education explains the 5 Types of Supervision that we recommend:
Below are a few common questions we often hear from parents with kids:
- How do we know when a dog is the right fit for our family?
- Does the breed of dog matter?
- Are some dog breeds better for some kids?
- What should we do to ensure we set everyone up for success?
Education IS Prevention. Prevention Leads to Safety.
Learn how you can be a part of safety and prevention HERE!
“You can’t prevent what you can’t predict.” ― K.M. Mac Aulay