Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dog Bite Prevention

The single most important action to prevent dog bites is the most obvious, though not always the easiest one: parental supervision of young children around all dogs, including the family dog.

The single most important thing to read -- and I wish every dog owner would read it -- is Chapter 3 [Socialization, Fear and Aggression] of Jean Donaldson's classic book on dog training, The Culture Clash. This chapter could save a child's life. I can't emphasize enough how important the information in this chapter is for parents and dog owners.

This site is meant to be a collection of the most factual and authoritative studies on dog bites. Of course all the studies posted here were carried out in an effort to learn more about dog bites in order to prevent them --- see the PubMed article on child swings, for example.

So while dog bite prevention is a paramount concern, a collection of links to the internet's many dog bite prevention articles is, as they say, beyond the scope of this site. The primary exception is the definitive report by the Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions, listed in the AVMA section of the sidebar.

Both the AVMA and the CDC have pages on dog safety. The SFSPCA has excellent pages on dog aggression and dogs and kids, as well as information [and on-site classes] designed to help introduce the family dog to a new baby. Dog Bite Law, a huge site I plan to link to and discuss, has material on dog bite prevention as well. For a community approach to dog bite prevention, the AVMA report is unsurpassed. I hope visitors to this site will take advantage of all the links in this post.

[There is a permanent link to this post in the sidebar.]

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Mark Castrillo said...

I believe that the responsibility should not only lie on the dog owners but to parents as well. Most of the victims of dog bites are children. The adults must teach their children the possibilities of handling dogs, particularly those that are not theirs. These include the severity of the dog bite, the emotional trauma it can give them, and a lot more.

11k11 said...

You can view a free video on dog bite prevention on

Charles Duncan said...

I would agree that all parents must teach their young children to be responsible in a world full of possible dangers. But I believe the majority of the burden must lie with the dog owner. When in doubt, keep them apart. Young children are every bit as unpredictable as dogs, and can do things that clearly provoke a pet, without realizing it.

This responsibility becomes even more crucial in the public space; a dog must be leased and clearly supervised. I am 6 foot man, but have been bitten by dogs of all sizes, and I am especially careful when I am approached by any animal.

Believe me, in this political and legal climate; when the dog attacks a child, no matter the circumstances; the outcome will not be good for owner and dog (certainly very traumatic for the child).

R. Schmitt, M.D. said...

A much needed and great additon to your categories would be "Emotional Residual from Dog Bites" (Especially in Children).
I continue to be sadly impressed by the absent of concern for the emotional load often carried solo by the child victims. Education and prevention continue to be extremely important. The lack of recognition of the PTSD from a dog attack on a child begs for attention.