I chose to write about this topic because of concern for my clients, and other pet owners. Recently I have seen several pet owners with aggressive, highly uncontrolled dogs that don't seem concerned about these mannerisms in their canines. This is a serious problem that can lead to severe injuries, and even death. I want to promote responsible pet ownership, and happiness for both people and their cherished companions. A dog that is well socialized will be more likely to be taken places, and be able to participate in more events. This is also a safety issue for your dog. If your buddy needs medical care; but it is difficult to handle him or her, than sedation may be required for treatment. If your buddy is choking, you need to be able to remove something from his or her mouth without issues. You should be able to comfortably evaluate your dog's mouth, touch his/her ears, hold him/her for vaccines, etc. If you are not able to do these basic tasks, there is cause for concern.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs annually. Children are most often the ones bitten; and it frequently occurs with their own dog, or the dog of a family friend. The more dogs that live in the household, the more likely for someone in that family to experience a bite. Children are also more likely to need medical attention, and the most serious dog bite injuries take place in children under 10 years old; sometimes leading to death. These same youngsters, if they survive, often develop a fear of animals that they carry with them throughout their lifetime. In 2006, more than 31,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of a dog bite. In addition to the physical and emotional injuries, there are other financial costs to consider. If someone is bitten by your dog and you are sued, you could loose your home and other valuable assets. It is estimated that dog bites costs Americans $356 million dollars annually. Keep in mind that it can be very difficult to collect reimbursement from Home owner's policies and Renter's insurance in these instances. Also, many property owners will not let you rent from them if you own a dog of a certain breed that is suspected to be more aggressive.
There are many things that you can do to prevent dog bites. Do not bring an aggressive dog into your home, especially if you have small children. Spay or Neuter your canine, as removing the source of hormones greatly decreases protective tendencies. Do not leave infants or young children unattended with dogs. Take you dog to obedience training, and socialize them with other dogs and people. Working at home with your canine is not the same as taking him or her to a different location, and practicing commands in the presence of strange dogs and other distractions. In addition to group lessons, some trainers will offer private home instruction. It also helps to know your dog. What locations, settings, or activities trigger anxiety in your pet? Avoid these situations, or remove your buddy at the first sign of a problem. Keep in mind that your dog can also sense when you are nervous. Do not play games such as tug of war with your buddy, as these can trigger aggression. Do not train your dog to chase or attack people. Seek professional advice from a veterinarian, trainer, or and/or behaviorist right away if aggressive tendencies start to appear. Keep your dog's vaccinations current. And remember, that many dog bites occur from nice dogs who were startled or provoked.
There are also specific safety tips for children that are recommended by the Humane Society. Do not approach a dog that you do not know. Do not run from a dog or scream. Remain motionless when approached by an unfamiliar dog. If you are knocked down, roll into a ball to protect your face. Report stray dogs to an adult. Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or nursing. Avoid direct eye contact with canines. And immediately report all dog bites to an adult.
Dog aggression is a serious public health problem in the United States that results in physical, emotional, and financial damage. Please act responsibly to help to reduce this issue in our area. Further information can be found at the websites of the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov and the Humane Society of The United States www.humanesociety.org.