Preventative Tips for Dog Bite Awareness Week
In honor of National Dog Bite Prevention Week April 9-15, San Diego Humane Society is sharing tips to protect yourself, others and pets from potentially harmful interactions.
San Diego is a dog-friendly, pup-loving city where we frequently see furry friends walking through neighborhoods, playing at off-leash dog parks and enjoying sunny days with their people at outdoor venues. While we’ve all heard the saying that a dog’s bark is worse than their bite, that’s not a theory we want to test. In honor of National Dog Bite Prevention Week April 9-15, we're sharing tips to protect yourself, others and pets from potentially harmful interactions.
Whether or not you have dogs at home, knowing how to safely meet and interact with a dog is incredibly important! As humans, we assume that dogs greet and communicate the same way we do — face-on with a handshake or hug, eye contact and a smile. All of these human behaviors are often the opposite for dogs and perceived as threatening to them. Instead, when you meet a dog, remember to A.S.K.!
Ask to approach from a respectful distance, of about 15-20 feet.
Share information about your pet’s interaction preferences, known or unknown behaviors, training goals, etc. and listen to information shared by pet owners before introductions are made.
Keep your eyes on the pet to make sure they're comfortable and engaged and watch for changes in body language. If they begin to show discomfort, take the initiative to end the interaction and respect the pet’s boundaries. This will prevent behavioral escalation and build trust for the next time you A.S.K. to greet them!
Just like people, pets should never be obligated to accept a hug, scratch or other unsolicited contact. Respect their personal space like you would a stranger or friend! Dog body language differs from human body language, as dogs communicate how they’re feeling in any given moment with their ears, eyes, tail, body posture and mouth, and their body movements need to be read as a package. A dog’s body language is a constant conversation, and can change in an instant, so it’s important to be aware of how dogs react to us and any changes in the environment you’re in while interacting.
Dogs provide so much love and enrichment to our lives, and bring endless joy with wagging tails! The best way to prevent a dog bite is through education, self-awareness and interacting with dogs in a manner that is non-threatening to them. Kids can be especially vulnerable to dog bites as they learn to interact with our canine companions, and it's never too early to teach children appropriate interaction with animals. To help kids build positive relationships and happy memories with dogs, check out our kid-centric safety tips!
Published: April 10, 2023