This week kicks off National Dog Bite Prevention Week and Victoria Stilwell, of the hit series “It’s Me or the Dog,” is offering tips on how to prevent the nearly 5 million dog bites that happen every year.
Stilwell, an advocate for science-based, force-free training methods, suggests that forcing dogs into submission, like leash yanking and rolling them on their backs, as a way of preventing and correcting behavioral problems could lead to potentially dangerous situations.
Fear and anxiety are common causes of aggression, and the use of dominance techniques, or punishment can directly exacerbate the problem by increasing the animal’s fear and anxiety.
“Dogs need and want us to provide effective leadership, but the most effective leaders do not simply impose their will on their followers,” says Stilwell. “And I firmly believe the only way to truly ensure that we are successful in achieving the necessary balance with our dogs is by using positive reinforcement and treating them with the same respect that we ask of them. It’s not the breed of the dog that causes the bite, but rather how well the dog is trained and controlled.”
Injury rates are highest among children between the ages of 5 and 9 years old, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the host for this year’s awareness week.
Statistics provided by the group show the dog is usually not a stranger to the person. In victims younger than 18 years old, the family dog inflicts 30 percent of all dog bites, and a neighbor’s dog is responsible for another 50 percent of these bites.
“Veterinarians recognize, while there are 72 million good dogs in the United States, any dog can bite if it is frightened or feels threatened, even the family pet,” said Dr. Larry M. Kornegay, AVMA president. “Unfortunately, children are most often the victims.”
Experts say that’s why it is important to begin teaching children at an early age how to interact with dogs, even if there isn’t a dog in the family.
Last week we reported on the U.S. Postal Services’ list of cities with the most letter carriers attacked by dogs and included several tips for preventing them, including:
Tagged Dog Bites