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10 Ways to Prevent a Dog Bite

May 19-25, 2013 is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Here are some ways you can prevent dog bites.

1. Plan ahead before acquiring a new dog. Do some research and know what breeds are the most suitable to bring into your household. Some dogs, especially with a history of aggression, may not be suitable for a household with small children.

2. Be sure to spay or neuter your dog. This will help to reduce aggressive tendencies.

3. Children should be taught how to act appropriately around dogs. Teach them to always ask permission before petting an unfamiliar dog, and to not insist on playing with a dog who is not up to playing. Never leave infants or young children alone with a dog.

4. Spend time training and socializing your dog. Teach him submissive behaviors so he understands that you are the leader. Train him when very young to not growl or snap if you are near his food bowl. Teach him to drop toys and objects on command so you do not have to reach into his mouth. Seek the help of a professional trainer if necessary.

5. Don't pet a dog - even your own - without letting her see and sniff you first. Never surprise a dog and touch when she's not expecting it.

6. Play non-aggressive games such as fetch. Aggressive games such as tug-of-war or wrestling could encourage inappropriate behavior.

7. Avoid disturbing a dog while she is sleeping, eating, chewing on a bone, or caring for young. They may become protective.

8. Do not approach an unfamiliar dog, especially one that is tied up, behind a fence or in a car. They consider that their property and will instinctively want to protect it.

9. If a loose or unfamiliar dog approaches you, remain motionless ("like a tree"), with your hands to your side, and look away. Avoid direct eye contact as this could be interpreted as a challenge or threat. Remain still until the dog loses interest in you, or toss an object away from you and away from the dog to direct his attention away from you, then slowly turn and walk away. Never run from an unfamiliar or threatening dog. They will instinctively chase you as if you were prey.

10. Be careful when moving an injured dog. A dog in pain may lash out, even at a friendly or familiar person. Seek the help of a veterinarian or your local animal control officer or dog warden. If you must move the dog yourself, wear heavy gloves if possible, or cover his head with a shirt or coat to help calm him.

Remember that under certain circumstances any dog is capable of biting, regardless of breed or size.

If you are bitten by a dog, immediately wash the wound with warm, soapy water, contact your physician for further instructions, and immediately report the dog to animal control.