Canine Bites Dropping, However Good Coaching – of People and Canine

Dog Bites Dropping, But Good Training - of Humans and Dogs

In journalism, "Man Bites Dog" is news. However, pooches that bite fewer people are not. But maybe it should be, considering that dog bites dropped a whopping 9% between 2017 and 2018, according to an April 2019 American Veterinary Medical Association press release.

The AVMA reported that dog bites fell from 18,522 to 17,297 in two years. In addition, 81% of these bites caused no or minor injuries that did not require medical attention. Dog bites in older children have also decreased, but incidents with children under one year old have increased.

There is no official national repository for dog bite data in the US. The most recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was prepared in 2001 and published in July 2003. The CDC analyzed information from the National All Injury Program and estimated that 368,245 people were treated for dog bites in hospitals.

The AVMA report used insurance claims statistics from the Insurance Information Institute, the American Humane Society, and State Farm Insurance, the largest homeowner insurance company in the United States. All are partners of AVMA in the National Dog Bite Coalition. "The latest data definitely shows that (dog bites) have decreased," Douglas Kratt, DVM, president of AVMA, told Medical Daily. "I attribute this to better public education and pet education."

Even the gentlest dog can whip

In 2019, an estimated 76 to 90 million dogs were living in American households, according to While some species – pit bulls, mixed breeds, German shepherds and rottweilers, and non-neutered dogs – are more likely to snap and bite, the vast majority of our four-legged friends are good dogs. Unfortunately, Dr. Kratt that, given the right circumstances, even the gentlest, best-behaved dog can snap or bite. "I want to tell you that there is an answer, but these are really complex situations that need to be viewed individually," he said.

A dog may be more likely to be more aggressive when guarding food, a toy, or its puppies, he explained. They can be belligerent when scared, sick, or injured.

"Every bite is unfortunate and too many," said Dr. Kratt. "So it requires working with the pet to ensure that it is trained and socialized through positive reinforcement." This is the message that Dr. Kratt communicated to every pet owner on their first visit, regardless of whether they are new or fifth time dog owners. Bringing a dog to your home means a commitment and an investment in a family member.

Training pays off

A dog can be with you for 12 to 15 years, emphasized Dr. Kratt. “You want to invest upfront by training the animal. It's a huge investment, but then it will bring years of joy. Behavioral problems, which are one of the most common reasons for pet vomiting, can be averted with a good exercise and socialization program, he said. A good training class can also help Fido's owners learn a new trick or two.

"A dog cannot speak to us in words that we can understand, so we need to learn their language," said Dr. Kratt. “There are clues that they give us. Take some time and pay attention to your body language. "

This is especially true for an unfamiliar dog. The first rule when meeting a new dog is to ask the owner's permission to interact with the pet. Owners know if the pet likes to meet new people or is afraid of strangers. Look for body language cues like the dog seeking your attention. Conversely, an animal that seems stressed out or is hiding behind its owner may not be ready to meet you.

Teach your children well

Just as dogs need socialization, young children should learn how to handle a dog appropriately. Children should be taught not to frighten or annoy a dog, play rough, or pull on its tail. "We wouldn't behave like that with a pet, so I don't want our children to do it," he said.

Another piece of advice Dr. Kratt gives its customers is never to leave babies or young children alone with a pet. It is a firm rule that he and his wife, also a veterinarian, lived with their children, even though the couple thought their dogs were gentle and good.

"I'm just not a fan of toddlers and young children who are left unattended by pets, no matter how much I trust the pet," he says. "I just think accidents happen and I think it's my responsibility, not as a vet, but as a person, as an adult, as a pet owner, to try not to make anyone fail."


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