According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. This number is especially disheartening since most dog bites are preventable. Dog awareness and advocacy, as well as responsible pet ownership, is where dog bite prevention begins.
1. Dog Awareness: That little phrase packs a lot of punch! Dog awareness starts with educating yourself on the basics of canine communication. It continues with seeking to be well-informed about our canine companions. If your knowledge comes from tv “experts”, your neighbor, and personal opinions, then you’ve got some more investigating to do. Dog behavior is a science. There are numerous myths and hypothetical postulations that have sadly spread like wildfire over the years. If you’re still in the dark ages believing dogs are trying to dominate their human families and be the pack leader, then that’s a good place to start looking into recent scientific discoveries. Everyone benefits from continuous growth in dog awareness.
2. Dog Advocacy: I hope you won’t be able to continue business as usual once you begin increasing your dog aware skills, and have a better understanding of man’s best friend. The humane thing to do is start advocating for, at the least, your own dog. When you recognize distress, fear, nervousness, anxiety, etc., then do your best to appropriately guide your dog. Don’t rely on their remarkable tolerance to prevent growls, snaps, snarls and bites. Kindly remove them, or the stressors that cause discomfort. You can go a step further and enlist a positive reinforcement trainer or veterinary behaviorist to guide you in improving your dog’s emotional responses.
3. Responsible Pet Ownership: This not only includes providing for the basic needs of your pet, but also forming realistic expectations. All dogs have teeth. All dogs can bite. Expecting your dog to tolerate consistent distressful situations without repercussion is irresponsible. Even our good family dogs can snap or bite when their tolerance levels are exceeded, combined, or overlooked. If you already have a dog that exhibits aggression, fearfulness, reactivity, etc., then you should take precautions to ensure the safety of your pet and others.
Pursuing the above goals will not only aid in the prevention of dog bites in your community, but also put us on a better path to becoming dogs’ best friends.