Bark, Don’t Bite. Dog Bite Prevention

Written by: Kelley Weir

Morris Animal Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes longer, healthier lives for animals through humane research, recently funded a study to determine how educated veterinarians and physicians are about dog-bite prevention techniques. Of the respondents, only 21 percent of veterinarians and 5 percent of physicians reported that they had acquired most of their knowledge about dog bites from medical or veterinary school. Most interesting, the study found that the vast majority of those surveyed would like to have had more information about dog-bite prevention during their schooling.

“We hope the information from this study can be used to develop better curricula for medical and veterinary training programs,” said Patricia N. Olson, DVM, PhD, president/CEO of Morris Animal Foundation. “This curriculum could prove to be of benefit to both people and dogs alike, helping us to better live side by side.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has collected some eye-opening statistics on dog bites. Fifty percent of dog attacks involve children under 12 years old. The rate of dog bite–related injuries is highest for children ages 5 to 9 years, and the rate decreases for older children. Almost two-thirds of injuries among children 4 years and younger are to the head or neck region. Sixty-five percent of bites among children occur to the head and neck.
The CDC and other dog-bite prevention experts offer these simple precautions:

  • Instruct your children never to approach and interact with dogs they don’t know.
  • Avoid contact with a chained dog unless the owner indicates that it is safe to approach the animal. 
  • Never allow children to tease or pester any dog. 
  • Adopt a zero-tolerance policy for any form of animal abuse, and instruct children to treat all dogs in a humane and caring manner. 
  • Never leave small children alone with a dog. 
  • Take your dog to obedience and socialization classes to decrease the threat of biting. 
  • Recognize the warning signs of aggression and act accordingly.

Following these steps can help ensure that you have a fun, safe summer. For more information, contact your veterinarian or family physician/pediatrician. You can also visit us at or on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter for up-to-date information.

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