Beware Of Dog Sign on Old Worn Wood FenceAlthough we love our canines, dog bites are an unfortunate reality, with an estimated 4.7 million Americans bitten by dogs every year. That’s why awareness events, such as National Dog Bite Prevention Week, focus on the basics of how to avoid a bite.

Because so many incidents occur within the home (and most likely to a child), taking a proactive approach is the first and most important step to keeping everyone safe – including your pet.

Begin at the Beginning: Raising a Confident, Socialized Canine

As a pet parent, one of the greatest rewards is raising a well-adjusted, healthy, and sociable dog. However, it’s easy to focus more on the cuddle factor and less on the training and socialization needs of puppies.

Puppies need to learn how to navigate new experiences with confidence and look to us to for a sense of security. Obedience training and socialization establish a strong connection between you and your dog and teaches him or her important rules.

Early exposure to other pets in a structured, supervised environment is also integral to good doggy behavior. Dogs who have not been socialized are more prone to anxiety, fear, and aggression, all of which lay the groundwork for a bite incident.

Another key factor in dog bite prevention is whether your pet remains intact. Spaying/neutering is known to decrease the urge for pets to roam and attack.

Dog Bite Prevention at Home

One of the best ways to show your dog how to behave is to reinforce positive behavior at home. Ways to encourage a well-behaved Fido include:

  • Establish house rules and stick to them (sleeping areas, furniture, etc.).
  • Teach your dog how to behave around new friends and house guests (no jumping, barking, or otherwise excitable behavior).
  • Reward this good behavior with treats and/or verbal praise.
  • Maintain the Alpha position by consistently enforcing house rules and rewarding positive outcomes.
  • Seek help from your veterinarian if you notice behavior such as fear or resource guarding.
  • Young children are often the victims of dog bites. Sometimes, this isn’t the result of an aggressive or fearful dog. Accidents do happen, and animals might bite as a response to being startled. To prevent these scenarios, teach children to avoid the following:

  • Roughhousing with a dog
  • Getting between two dogs who are playing or fighting
  • Interrupting a dog while he or she is eating or chewing on a treat/bone
  • Teasing a pet
  • Getting down on eye level or placing hands around a dog’s mouth
  • Waking up a dog abruptly
  • By raising awareness and teaching our precious pups how to behave in the great, big world, we can make a difference in reducing dog bite situations.

    The Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital are always here to assist you and your companion. Please contact us with any concerns or to ask about our upcoming training classes.