How to Prevent Dog Bites

Each year, more than 4.5 million Americans are bitten by a dog. You can take steps to prevent dog bites.

Children are the most common victims of dog bites. The American Humane Association reports that 66% of those bites occur to a child’s head and neck. It may surprise you to learn that most of those children are bitten by dogs they know, often while they are doing nothing out of the ordinary.

After children, senior citizens are the second most common victims. As expected, postal workers are another frequent victim of dog bites.

The majority of dog bites, if not all, are preventable.

Train and socialize your dog. Educate and supervise your children on how to approach and behave around dogs. Always supervise children while they are playing with a dog.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers some basic safety tips on how you can reduce the likelihood of being bitten by a dog and how to protect yourself if you are attacked.

  • Don’t approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Don’t disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping or caring for puppies.
  • Don’t run from a dog.
  • Don’t panic or make loud noises around dogs.
  • Don’t encourage your dog to play aggressively.
  • Don’t pet a dog without first allowing it to see and sniff you.
  • If a dog exhibits any signs of nervousness or aggression, leave it alone.
  • Always supervise small children when they play with a dog.

If you are approached by an unfamiliar dog:

  • Stop, be calm and stand still “like a tree”.
  • Avoid eye contact with the dog.
  • Say “No” or “Go Home” in a firm, deep voice
  • Turn slowly so that the side of your body faces the dog. Directly facing a dog may make you appear aggressive to the animal.
  • Slowly raise your hands to your neck, holding your elbows in close to your sides.
  • Wait for the dog to pass you or slowly back away.

If you are bitten or attacked by a dog:

  • Put a purse, bag, jacket or something else between you and the dog.
  • If you are knocked down, curl up in a ball, tuck you head in and cover your ears and neck with your hands.

If you’d like to learn more about dogs bites and how to treat them, please visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/features/dog-bite-prevention/