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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
7:02 PM Sat, Dec. 15th

Column: Dog bite prevention tips

Have you ever come face-to-face with an aggressive dog? It's important to know how to respond in these situations. Last week, May 17-23, was National Dog Bite Prevention Week - but there's never a bad time to discuss dog bite prevention.

The purpose of the weeklong observance is to raise awareness and educate people regarding dog bite avoidance and prevention. While 70 million dogs live in U.S. households, 4.7 million Americans report being bitten by dogs annually, with 800,000 Americans receiving medical treatment. However, many of these situations could have been avoided with more knowledge on how to act towards and around domestic dogs.

Know the facts:

• Children are the most targeted age group for dog bites, followed by senior citizens.

• When young children are bitten, it's usually by familiar dogs during everyday activities.

• Dog bites are often reactions to something, such as stressful situations in which dogs feel threatened, startled or unwell.

• Biting is often a defense mechanism for dogs; they may be defending themselves, their territory, their young, a toy or their food.

• Socializing your dog from a young age can reduce the likelihood they will bite.

YHS recommends the following tips for teaching children about dog bite prevention:

• Start young: teaching children to be cautious and gentle towards animals from a young age is important while they develop their interaction skills with dogs.

• Supervise: be sure to watch your children (especially younger ones) while they interact with dogs to make sure they are being respectful and kind.

• Teach your children to avoid unknown/unfamiliar dogs.

• Report stray dogs to your local animal control agency.

• Communicate: Always ask an owner's permission to pet their dog, no matter how friendly it may seem.

• Respect: Do not bother animals when they're sleeping or eating as they may react defensively at these times.

• Never tease dogs by taking their toys or pretending to kick or hit.

• Never pull a dog's ears or tail or to try to ride or climb on them.

If attacked by a dog make sure you (or your child):

• Confidently and quietly walks away, if possible.

• If the dog pursues, stand still "like a tree" - hands down in front, still, looking at your feet.

• If knocked over by the dog - cover your head and neck with your arms and curl into a ball.

• It is especially important to avoid escalating the situation by yelling, running, hitting, or making sudden movements.

Safety Tips for kids:

• Always practice WAIT when you want to pet a dog.

• Remember: NO owner, NO petting!

• Hugs are for people, NOT for dogs.

• NO screaming or running around dogs.

• Never go near a dog that is sleeping, eating or sick.

• Remember that a dog tells you how he feels with his tail, mouth, ears and body.

• Don't go near a dog in a car, behind a fence or who is tied up - EVEN if you know him.

• Good dog owners take their dogs to the veterinarian, train them and make sure they meet lots of different people.

• Remember, dogs like to chase. If you're on your bike or your skateboard and a dog runs up to you, STOP and put the bike or skateboard between you and the dog.

• When a strange dog comes near you, be BORING! Stand like a tree! Lay like a rock!

Share these safety tips with friends and family for a dog-bite-free year!

When looking for a pet with just the right disposition to join your family visit the Yavapai Humane Society at 1625 Sundog Ranch Road in Prescott for the largest selection of adoptable dogs and cats in northern Arizona.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at eboks@yavapaihumane.org or by calling 928-445-2666, ext. 101.