To the owner of the two black poodles who bit my husband last Saturday early morning while running at Magnuson park, this is for you. But also for all of us as a reminder to something I know both from the medical data and from life experience too well: all dogs bite. Even when an owner assures you they don’t or won’t.

For many, having a dog isn’t just having a pet, they are clearly part of our families. We invest, we believe, we protect, and we stand behind them. I’ve written about the love my family has for our sweet dog Luna who passed away a year ago this month. Many of us love our dogs for many reasons, and they even have been shown to boost humans’ health in psychosocial but also fundamental ways. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics back in 2015 found that exposure to dogs during a baby’s first year was linked to a 13% lower risk of asthma in school age children. Having a dog also helps teach children responsibility and can boost their self-esteem. But we do have to remember, dogs are animals and they act like it when provoked, frightened or activated. All dogs will bite given the right circumstance. Coincidental to a dog bite in my family, this week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week and I’m sharing some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for keeping your family and children safe from dog bites.

Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs, and of the 800,000 Americans who receive medical attention for dog bites, at least half are children. Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention. Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured. Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs. Remember, as most dog bites involve familiar animals, prevention starts in your home.

Some species of dogs are more likely to bite unprovoked or when startled (Pit Bulls, Rotweillers, German Shepards, Huskies, etc). But this post really is intended to remind us that even when a sweet lamb-like doggy of ANY breed gets frightened or provoked by an unsuspecting human, toddler or child, they may bite without even THINKING of it. Some of this is just animal instinct.

7 Ways To Help Prevent Dog Bites:

  1. Never leave a small child and a dog alone together, no matter if it is the family dog, a dog that is known to you, or a dog that you have been assured is well behaved. Any dog can bite at any time.
  2. Teach your child to ask a dog owner for permission before petting any dog. Teach them to pet a dog under the chin to avoid the dog perceiving any threat/danger. We all love to pat a doggy on the head but the action can startle a dog and threaten them.
  3. Let a dog sniff you or your child before petting, and stay away from the face or tail. Pet the dog gently, and avoid eye contact, particularly at first.
  4. Never bother a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies. Dogs in these situations are more likely to respond aggressively, even with a person who is familiar to them.
  5. Do not allow your child to run past a dog, because dogs may be tempted to pursue the child (or you!).
  6. Teach your child that if a dog is behaving in a threatening manner—for example, growling and barking—to remain calm, avoid eye contact with the dog, and back away slowly until the dog loses interest and leaves.
  7. If you or your child is knocked over by a dog, curl up in a ball and protect the eyes and face with arms and fists.

Treatment for Dog Bites:

  • Request proof of rabies vaccination from the dog’s owner, get the dog owner’s name and contact information, and ask for the name and telephone number of a veterinarian who is familiar with the dog’s vaccination records and history.
  • Immediately wash out the wound with soap and water.
  • Call your pediatrician because the bite could require antibiotics, a tetanus shot, and/or rabies shots. The doctor can also help you report the incident.
  • If your child is bitten severely enough that the skin has been broken, call 9-1-1 or bring your child to an emergency department for treatment.

Often in the startling and scary event of a dog bite we get flustered. We may not follow through with ideal care. Even two physicians are having a hard time figuring out how to find the owner of the black poodles that bit my husband last weekend to verify rabies vaccination. If you’re out there, Owner Of The Two Black Standard Poodles, please do get in touch. We’d love to ensure the health and safety of our family but we’d also really appreciate you observing the leash law moving forward, too.

Comments? Tips and tricks you’ve learned about ensuring safety living with and recreating with sweet doggies of the world?

Ouch! My husband was bitten on the leg by an off-leash dog while jogging.