Dog Bite Prevention Week Resources

This week is dog bite prevention week.  Veterinarians, human physicians, animal behaviorists, trainers all have created messages about the dangers of dog bites and how to avoid and prevent them.  To best know how to prevent dog bites, we need comprehensive data about the situations in which bites occur.

Unfortunately, this information is hard to come by, as most all experts agree that only the most serious bites are reported.  And those experts who’ve been involved in fatal dog attacks (we’ve served as expert witnesses in 6 cases between the two of us) including Dr. Randy Lockwood, have stated that the circumstances that result in fatal attacks are typically quite different from the causes of less serious bites.

Bite statistics vary because of how they are collected, but in general people are bitten by dogs that are previously known to them.  Children are bitten more often than adults and boys are bitten more often than girls for reasons that aren’t fully understood.

It’s interesting that a number of articles on bite prevention talk about not trying to pet a female dog with puppies (a good recommendation), but we can’t remember ever seeing a dog aggression case or reading a news report about someone being bitten under these circumstances. How best to avoid a dog bite will depend on the circumstances under which you encounter a dog.  Bite prevention recommendations will be quite different for veterinary staff as compared to postal workers or contrasted with what to tell children to avoid being bitten by the family dog.

In our opinion most dogs reveal through their body language when they are uncomfortable, uncertain, fearful, or anxious during an encounter with a person.  The better we can read these signs and no when to leave dogs alone (or take protective steps if we must handle them).  Our updated and revised Canine Body Posture DVD is designed for just that purpose and will be released in a month or less.  If you haven’t already subscribed to our newsletter, do it now so you’ll be the first to know when it’s released.

Here are a few articles that cover various aspects of the dog bite issue, with our comments.  These may be helpful to give to clients or to use in developing your own lectures on dog bite prevention.


The AVMA home page on dog bite prevention.  It contains several articles which are described below.

A good resource to help people recognize situations around dogs that pose significant risks to them.  Most people don’t have a clue when they are engaging in risky behavior.

This article provides vague, general reasons for bites.  But its’ only recommendations is that people ‘socialize’ their dogs.

Gives very general information about dog body language but is too incomplete to be helpful.  What is needed is more detail such as our Canine Body Postures DVD (updated version to be released soon)

This article provides good but simple advice on responsible pet ownership, nothing new here.

Describes common situations to avoid, one of which is not to pet a service dog.  How is petting a service dog a risk for a dog bite?

This article is  really about government policy on breed restrictions, rather than useful advice on dog bite prevention.

There are some good ideas here, but you are teaching children behaviors and they need to PRACTICE these acts to get good at them.  Few programs do this.

Good advice about being a responsible pet owner and human parent.

This page provides similar advice to that found on the AVMA pages, but has a slick video on reading dog body language that is about 3 minutes long.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a number of great resources about dog bites, including scientific articles relating to dog bite incidence in the U.S.

2 Comments

  • Kerry

    Reply Reply May 24, 2013

    http://www.doggonesafe.com
    Also provides great information and has Dog Bite Victim Support Group & financial assistance for counseling services through “The Courtney Fund”

  • Jamie CPDT-KA

    Reply Reply May 24, 2013

    Thanks for ALL this info. I was invited as a guest speaker for a Kids and Dog’s Safety program with the Front Street Shelter (our city shelter) and the Public Library (they allowed us to use their space for kids to gather after school for the presentation). I found it difficult to find “good” info to put together. I ended up using the ZoomRoom: dog body language Video on youtube, talked to and accessed Barbara Shumannfang’s book “Happy kids Happy dogs”, and the Doggonesafe website, and AKC sent me “The dog Listener” (which teaches the “old way of say hello to dogs”) info. Since I could not find a child’s book ( and one written in the year 2000 was telling children to lick the dog to say hello, and grab the dogs face and stare it down to show you are the “alpha”, yes, a Childrens book) that teaches proper (what is known today) “say Hello” techniques, I mentioned to a friend of mine and between her (she put what I said in rhyme) and her sister,(illustrator) and I (as a trainer, explained how to say hello) we put together a book ( very short, for children 6-10) with the proper way to do so, SeeMeedogs.com. We used it to read to them and I brought 2 dogs (one was THE dog in the little book) I am working with in my training class, so they could practice; I had video from youtube of random people’s interacting with dogs, laughing and thinking they were doing a cute video of their baby crawling all over a VERY good dog, and one where they had the child and dog trying to get along and the dog was not happy, and using several avoidance techniques. The children that attended were amazing, they started to “get it” and they were raising their hands and telling us what “they” saw, the dogs were doing. They were able to say hello to our dogs properly. We are going to be doing it again next year for the whole yr since we tested it (only did 2 presentations) and it was successful, and the adults in the room were informed also, and they were surprised they were teaching it wrong to their children and the body signals some they were not aware of, (lip flicks, lip licks and yawning-out of context). Thank you for this info, this will help be ready for next yr with more info for them.

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