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It’s a dog’s world. Here’s how to live in it safely.

Serving Families Throughout Jacksonville

While our canine companions bring joy, companionship, and unconditional love into our lives, it's essential to recognize the potential risks and take proactive measures to prevent dog bites. That's why Dog Bite Prevention Week, observed during the first week of April, serves as a crucial reminder to promote responsible pet ownership and educate the public on dog safety.

Here are some valuable tips for preventing bites and fostering positive interactions between humans and dogs…

Understanding the Scope: National Dog Bite Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year. Alarmingly, nearly one in five of these bites results in injuries requiring medical attention. Children are particularly vulnerable, accounting for about half of all dog bite victims, with those aged 5 to 9 years at the highest risk. Additionally, postal workers, delivery personnel, and utility workers are among the professions most affected by dog bites during the course of their job tasks.

Why Do Dogs Bite?

  • Stress response
  • They aren’t feeling well
  • Defending itself or its territory (including their home or their owners)
  • They’ve been scared or startled
  • They’re protecting something valuable to them (such as their puppies, food or favorite toy)

Top Tips for Dog Bite Prevention

  • Education and Awareness: Understanding canine behavior and body language is key to preventing bites. Teach children and adults alike to recognize signs of fear, aggression, or discomfort in dogs, such as growling, baring teeth, or stiffening of the body.
  • Supervision and Socialization: Never leave young children unsupervised around dogs, regardless of their familiarity with the animal. Proper socialization from an early age can help dogs feel more comfortable and confident in various situations, reducing the likelihood of fear-based aggression.
  • Respect Boundaries: Always ask for permission before approaching an unfamiliar dog and respect the dog's personal space. Avoid reaching over fences or into vehicles to pet dogs, as this can startle or provoke them. And, above all, keep your face protected and out of reach of a dog.
  • Proper Training and Handling: Enroll dogs in obedience training classes to learn essential commands and behaviors, such as "sit," "stay," and "leave it." Use positive reinforcement techniques to reward desired behaviors and discourage unwanted ones.
  • Leash Laws and Restraint: Obey local leash laws and keep dogs on a leash when in public spaces. Ensure that fences and gates are secure to prevent dogs from escaping and potentially injuring others.
  • Responsible Pet Ownership: Spay/neuter pets to reduce aggressive behaviors associated with mating instincts. Provide adequate exercise, mental stimulation, and socialization opportunities to promote a happy, well-adjusted pet.
  • Safe Interactions with Children: Educate children on appropriate ways to approach and interact with dogs they encounter outside the home. Encourage them to ask the dog's owner for permission before petting or approaching the animal.
  • Click here for some great tips on integrating a new dog into a home with children.

There’s no such thing as a “bad breed” of dog. Like all of us, they respond proportionally to their upbringing and treatment. Dogs are capable of unconditional love, but that doesn’t mean they’ll love everyone. Please use these tips to stay safe and avoid situations where you may be vulnerable to a serious dog bite or attack.