It’s true: For most dogs, their barks are worse than their bites. However, according to the CDC, 4.5 million Americans get bitten each year. And each year, the number of dog bites spikes during the summer months. Both people and dogs spend more time outdoors during this time of year, which is likely the cause of the increase in bites.
The good news is that, with a little common sense and some safety strategies, dog bites are preventable. As you’re outside enjoying the warm summer air, here are five dog-bite prevention tips to remember:
- Never, ever leave a child unattended with a dog, especially an unfamiliar dog. It seems so basic, right? But unsupervised children receive the majority of dog bites every year.
- Most dog bites occur when a dog is frightened. So don’t approach an unfamiliar dog. Don’t get down on a dog’s level; this can be seen as threatening. Don’t run and scream and don’t ever look a dog directly in the eyes.
- Teach children not to interrupt a dog who is eating, sleeping, or chewing on a toy. While not all dogs guard their resources, it’s better to teach children the general rule for safety.
- Report stray dogs to animal control. I extend this rule to include reporting dogs displaying unusual or aggressive behavior. For instance, if you see a neighbor’s chained-up dog snarling and lunging at everyone who passes that part of the sidewalk, it might be worth placing a call to an animal control officer. Chains snap, and if the dog is truly aggressive, that could spell disaster. Animal control officers can educate owners and help them plan for safety.
- Check out this video from CBS News: Dog Bites 101, which demonstrates the proper way to greet an unfamiliar dog.