Ranked third in the nation among colleges of veterinary medicine by U.S. News & World Report, NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine is a driving force in veterinary innovation. From our leadership in understanding and defining the interconnections between animal and human health, to groundbreaking research in areas like equine health, and our commitment to training the next generation of veterinary health professionals, we are dedicated to advancing animal and human health from the cellular level through entire ecosystems.
National Dog Bite Prevention Week is May 17-23 and Barbara Sherman, a veterinary behaviorist at North Carolina State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, would like to educate owners to ensure that their dogs do not become part of an unfortunate dog bite statistic. Many dog bites can be prevented.
More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S. with one of every five victims requiring medical attention. Children are the most common bite victims and are far more likely to be severely injured than adults.
“One of the first things I tell parents is always supervise interactions between dogs and children,” says Dr. Sherman. “This is true even of dogs known to be friendly. Not all dogs welcome interactions with children. Not all children understand how to interact safely with dogs. Any dog can bite.”
Notice a dog’s behavior. “Be attentive to signs that the dog is fearful or unfriendly toward the child,” Sherman continues. “For example, to show fear, the dog may tuck its tail, crouch, or rotate its ears back. To show that it wants the child to stay away, the dog may give a hard stare, or ‘freeze’ in place, or even growl in warning. The child may not be aware of these signals. Separate the child and dog immediately.”
Often children do not notice these signs. To avoid this sort of miscommunication during greetings, Sherman says it is critical for parents to teach children safe methods of approaching and greeting dogs, and to avoid them at certain times. Three simple rules can help:
- Children should always ask owners if it is okay to pet the dog BEFORE reaching to pet;
- The dog should be petted on the back from collar to tail, never on the head;
- Don’t bother dogs that are eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies.