Untrained, unsocialized, under-exercised dogs put you and others at a greater risk of being bitten. While there is no 100% failsafe, dog bite prevention week (May 14 – 20) offers a few reminders.
1. Spay or neuter your dog; as much as 90% of bite cases involve intact dogs.
2. Observe your pet, especially around young children. The highest rate of dog bites involves young children -- ages 5 to 9. Running and yelling children can “turn on” the ‘prey’ drive in any dog. Keep your dog leashed in public. Never leave your dog alone with a small child ~ regardless of how good the dog is with the child.
3. Breed differences are real. Some breeds work closely with humans; others chase prey. Some dogs were bred to be solitary and protective. Even small dogs can switch to ‘prey drive’ when children run and yell.
4. Interaction. Introduce your dog to new situations, but don’t overwhelm. Keep the dog with you on a leash. Allow him to approach and walk away. On a leash your dog will feel safer, and you can maintain control over his actions.
5. Train, don’t complain. Many choices exist for your lifestyle and budget: one on one, in home, group classes or at a dog club. Training teaches your dog to take direction from you. Many programs work with the entire family – a bonus. Yes, old dogs can learn new tricks and unlearn bad habits.
6. Exercise your dog. A tired dog is a happy dog! True, a Chihuahua and a Border Collie present different challenges, but the needs are the same. Mental exercise – where is the toy? – can be as fatiguing for many dogs as any aerobics class might be for you!
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