As the school year begins, children learn many safety rules about things like traffic and strangers. But what about bite prevention?
Dogs bite about 4.7 million people each year, the majority of whom are children. The most likely victims of dog bites are boys, while the most likely victims of cat bites are girls.
Because people who know how to prevent dog attacks are less likely to be bite victims, education is an important key to decreasing dog bite incidents.
If your dog starts to exhibit aggressive behavior, seek help before your dog hurts someone. Take him to your veterinarian to rule out health problems, then make an appointment with an animal trainer to learn what may be causing your dog's sudden behavioral problems and how to stop them.
In severe cases, there may not be a simple solution to your dog's aggression and you should talk with your trainer about other options.
To prevent being bitten by a dog or cat, the most important thing to remember is to never approach a strange animal, especially if the animal is chained, behind a fence or in a vehicle.
Don't disturb a dog or cat that is sleeping, eating, hurt, ill or caring for puppies or kittens. Never chase or tease an animal, especially by pulling the tail or ears. Always ask for permission from an owner before petting a dog or cat. If a strange dog approaches you, stand quietly with your arms to your side. Do not attempt to run, which might encourage the dog to chase you. If a dog does bite you, see a doctor immediately.
Because any dog regardless of breed is capable of biting, it is essential that dog owners take some simple precautions to prevent their dog from becoming aggressive.
One of the easiest and most important things dog owners can do to help prevent their dogs from biting is to spay and neuter their animals. A dog who is unaltered is three times more likely to bite.
Taking your dog to a professional trainer to teach him good behavior is an effective way to prevent behavioral problems. In addition, never allow your dog to roam, do not play games that encourage aggression (like tug-of-war), and keep your dog away from situations that cause stress or fear, such as parties and fireworks displays.
Your dog is more likely to be friendly and social if she gets plenty of exercise and exposure to other dogs and people.
Relationships with pets are an important part of many of our lives, and taking these precautions can make those relationships safer and more rewarding.
Amy Tramill is an educator at the Lawrence Humane Society. You can reach her at 843-6835.