10 Dog Bite Prevention Tips

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Dennis Lee, MD
    Dennis Lee, MD

    Dennis Lee, MD

    Dr. Lee was born in Shanghai, China, and received his college and medical training in the United States. He is fluent in English and three Chinese dialects. He graduated with chemistry departmental honors from Harvey Mudd College. He was appointed president of AOA society at UCLA School of Medicine. He underwent internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship training at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

Seeking medical care for dog bite injuries is a common event, and about half of dog bite victims are children. Children between the ages of five and nine are most likely to be bitten by dogs, and boys are more likely to be bitten than girls. Home service providers (such as postal carriers) and the elderly are also at increased risk for dog bites. Experts agree that many of the dog bites that occur each year in the U.S. could be prevented by enhanced public education measures.

Those interested in acquiring a dog as a pet can speak with a veterinarian or dog breeder about characteristics of different dog breeds to help determine which dog breeds might be appropriate for your family. Prospective dog owners should always spend time with a dog before making a commitment and be sensitive to children's reactions to the dog and any potential fears. Families with infants or small children should never leave any dog alone with the child at any time. Playing aggressive games (such as wrestling) with your dog should also be avoided.

To help prevent the possibility of dog bites, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) further recommends that dog owners train and properly socialize their pets so that they are at ease around people and other animals, spending time with pets so that your dog does not feel lonely or anxious, and keeping pets physically healthy.

It's also critical to teach all children proper behavior and safety around dogs, whether or not you have pets. The following tips are recommended by the CDC for teaching young children about safety measures around dogs:

  1. Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
  2. Do not run from a dog and scream.
  3. Remain motionless (e.g., "be still like a tree") when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  4. If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (e.g., "be still like a log").
  5. Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
  6. Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
  7. Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
  8. Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  9. Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
  10. If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care

REFERENCE: CDC.gov. Dog bite prevention.

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