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Dog Bites: What You Need To Know

Dog Bites: What You Need To Know
Any dog can bite when provoked
There is a lot of misinformation regarding dog bites and it’s important to remember some simple facts when it comes to dogs. 99% of dogs are not born aggressive. It is up to their owners to ensure their safety as well as the safety of those around them. That is why the American Veterinary Medical Association has teamed up with a coalition including the United States Postal Service, State Farm, and the Insurance Information Institute to promote awareness about dog bites.

“Dogs may bite for a number of reasons — they may be in pain or afraid, they may be sick or simply protecting something they love,” says Doctor Jose Arce from the AVMA. “It is vital for you to learn a dog’s body language to know when they want to interact and when they need to be given their own space. Everyone, even our dogs, deserves their own space when they need it. The most important thing to keep in mind is that dog bites are preventable.”

Here are some tips to keep in mind before interacting with a dog:


Always Ask Before Petting
It’s your responsibly to practice safe behavior around all dogs. Ask before petting!  When the owner is with their dog, always ask the owner for permission to pet their pup. Even if it’s a dog you know, asking first can help prevent sudden movements that may startle the dog.

Yes…Ask The Dog, Too!
While many dogs don’t speak English — they will tell you everything you need to know with their body language. Make sure you pay attention to these visual cues before approaching the pooch.

Avoid Scaring Your Dog
Be aware of noises or sudden movements that may scare your dog. If your child has a noisy toy, you never know if it could scare your pet, so suggest the child plays with it in another room.

Play Nice with the Pooch
Play non-aggressive games such as fetch. Games such as tug-of-war could encourage inappropriate behavior.  Never tease dogs. Don’t take their toys, food or treats, and never pretend to hit or kick them. This could create distrust in the dog, and make him or her more aggressive.


For families with both children and dogs, the AVMA has released three new videos to educate children on how to prevent dog bites, specifically on noises, teasing, and sleeping. For more information, visit AVMA.org.  

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