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How to protect yourself – and your kids – from a dog attack

You log in to your favorite news site and immediately notice the heartbreaking headline: A family pet mauled another child in California, changing lives forever. This kind of thing happens far too often, you think, and then you realize that you and your children encounter dogs all the time. How can you avoid this kind of tragedy?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that every year, dogs bite about 4.7 million people across the country. It may dismay you to learn that around half of dog bites victims are children. Senior citizens and postal workers are also vulnerable. Most dog attacks originate from a pet the victim was familiar with, and about one out of every five bites requires medical attention.

Dogs do not always mean to harm people when they bite. Many factors, ranging from fear to being possessive about food, can prompt a dog to nip or attack. The following tips may keep you and your family members from a bite:

  • Do not bother a dog that is sleeping or eating.
  • Give a mother dog her space when she is nursing puppies.
  • Avoid playing too roughly with a dog, and discontinue the activity if the dog begins playing too aggressively.
  • When meeting an unfamiliar dog, calmly invite him to come to you instead of intruding into his personal space.
  • Enroll your dog in behavioral training and socialization classes.
  • If you know your dog is timid or aggressive with unfamiliar people or other dogs, avoid putting him in a situation where he could bite you or someone else.

It would be wise to teach these tips to your children as well. When you understand dog behavior and take the proper precautions, you have a better chance of enjoying your canine best friend without becoming another dog bite victim.

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