Thursday, May 19, 2011

This week is "Dog Bite Prevention Week"

In case you are not aware, May 15-21, 2011 is designated as Dog Bite Prevention Week. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States, with 800,000 of them requiring medical attention. As a Dog Scout, I constantly promote the proper greeting of myself to my human counterparts, especially children.

Children are most at risk because they often approach dogs without hesitation or engage in rough play or fur-grabbing, resulting in injury. Thelma Lou, who wouldn't bite a flea (and better not have any on her dog because we use Advantix II), has been Troop 161's poster pup for several children's events — demonstrating to children how to properly approach a dog.

Neighborhood watchdog prepared to take a bite out of crime

Actually, it is important to recognize that any dog can bite — even Thelma Lou with her pronounced under bite can still take a bite out of crime or anyone else for that matter, especially if she is injured or feels threatened.

According to veterinary behaviorist Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MS, "The truth is that the majority of bites are actually due to fear, and they occur because humans fail to recognize the signs of fear in dogs." Proper training and socialization of dogs as well as training humans how to recognize dog body language and approach dogs in a non-threatening manner is crucial to avoid dog bites.

Dr. Yin has compiled the following public service announcement video on "Recognizing Fearful Behavior in Dogs." We give the video "four paws up!" or "twelve paws up" collectively.

Also available on Dr. Yin's website, she offers tips to recognize fearful dog behaviors and how to approach dogs, which includes a free downloadable poster. Thank you Dr. Yin for this valuable information.

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