In May, the United States celebrates National Dog Bite Prevention Month in an effort to prevent dog attacks and educate families. Canine aggression may be the result of a number of different factors, such as illness, poor training, and a perceived threat by the dog. If your family is thinking about getting a dog, it is important to consider all aspects of canine care before selecting the dog that's right for you. If your family doesn't plan on getting a dog, it is still important to teach your children canine safety tips they can use when visiting friends or playing outside.
May is National Dog Bite Prevention Month. Across the United States, dog owners, families, veterinarians, and various pet facilities work together to educate the public. Efforts are focused on raising awareness of why dogs bite and how to prevent dog attacks. Often, painful dog bite injuries can be avoided with knowledge and a better understanding of aggressive dog behavior.

Canine Aggression

Frequently, canine aggression is the result of a dog feeling unsafe or threatened in some manner. Occasionally, canine aggression may be the result of poor training by the owner, or a previous owner. In rare cases, a dog may also display aggressive behavior due to illness. Families must work to teach their children about canine aggression, regardless of whether or not they have a dog. Children may come across aggressive dog behavior in other families’ homes or while playing outside. If a family wishes to adopt a dog, it is important to understand all medical concerns and any behavioral problems the dog’s previous environment may cause. It is also important to train the new dog well and to include children in the training process.  

Before Getting a Dog

To ensure a safe and happy home, there are many things a family should consider before getting a dog, including:
  • Research and consult with a professional, to understand which breed will be best suited for your home.
  • Make sure you have enough time and resources to adequately care for the dog. This involves food, veterinary visits, spaying or neutering, time for training, play, and grooming, as well as flea and heartworm medications.
  • Spend a significant amount of time with the dog before taking it home. Make sure your whole family has met the dog. If you have children, carefully watch how your children interact with the dog. Any signs of fear or aggression around the dog indicate that this is not the right pet for your family.
  • Be sure to train the dog with submissive behaviors, while avoiding aggressive canine play, such as wrestling.

After Getting a Dog

To prevent dog attacks after getting a dog, or around other families’ pets, teach your children the following:
  • Do not run away from the dog while screaming.
  • Do not approach a dog that you do not personally know. If an unfamiliar dog approaches you, remain still and motionless.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with dogs.
  • Do not disrupt a dog while the dog is eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies.
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still.
  • Do not play with a dog without adult supervision.
  • Always allow a dog to see and sniff you first, before petting or playing with the dog.
  • Tell an adult about any dog that snarls, bears its teeth, bites, or shows canine aggression in any way.
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