Yes, dogs can be sweet and loving, but they’re still animals, which means they can and will bite. Even the sweetest pup on the planet can be provoked into biting someone. And in the United States, there are an estimated 4.5 million people bitten by dogs each year, with most of those being children. That’s why the American Veterinary Medical Association designated the second full week in April as National Dog Bite Prevention Week.
The purpose is to raise awareness on how to prevent dog bites from occurring and ways to create safer environments. But what else is Dog Bite Prevention Week about? And how exactly can you participate in it? Here’s what to know!
What and When Is Dog Bite Prevention Week?
As we said, National Dog Bite Prevention Week is the second full week of April. For 2023, this will be April 9–15.
Dog Prevention Week began in 1989, and these days it’s recognized as an event in over 40 countries. The primary purpose of Dog Bite Prevention Week is to educate people on why dogs bite people so they can avoid this happening. This week also teaches people how to react if they are bitten.
The main lesson of Dog Bite Prevention Week is that you can prevent being bitten by a canine with a few easy steps. What are these steps?
With these steps, you should be able to help prevent dog bites from occurring!
The 7 Reasons Why Why Do Dogs Bite?
There are several reasons why even the most well-behaved dog will resort to biting, so knowing these reasons is essential. What are they?
1. Resource Guarding
If you’ve adopted a pup from a shelter, you might have noticed this happening when you first bring the dog home—you feed your pet, and the second someone comes near its food while it’s eating, it snaps at them or growls. This is resource guarding.
And a dog may do it with other things, as well, such as toys, dog beds, or even a particular human in the house.
Possibly the most common reason dogs bite is due to fear (which makes sense). After all, if a dog is startled, in an unfamiliar place and overwhelmed, or feels threatened, it can be expected that it would lash out to protect itself. So, it’s a good idea to avoid trying to jump-scare your pup!
3. Sensitive to Touch
Dogs are individuals, so they all react to touch differently. And for some pups, being touched may lead to feeling uncomfortable because they’re overly sensitive to contact. If this is your pet, then it means it could end up biting someone while at the vet or groomer because being touched is too much for it.
Another significant cause of dog bites is a canine feeling territorial. Let’s face it, animals can get awfully territorial, whether it’s about their space, resources, or even their humans. And when a dog feels as if another animal or person is invading its territory, it can result in a dog bite as it tries to protect what it considers its own.
You likely don’t enjoy being touched when you’re in pain, and your dog is no different. If a pup is hurting, it’s likelier to snap on instinct at someone reaching out to touch it in order to protect itself. However, proper training and socialization can help minimize this instinct!
6. Handled Inappropriately
In most cases of inappropriate handling, children will be involved. As much as your child may love your pup, they might not always remember that dogs don’t enjoy being grabbed, poked, prodded, pinched, etc. And, a lot of the time, the child isn’t doing any of this on purpose; it’s simply a result of motor skills that haven’t fully developed. Unfortunately, a dog doesn’t know this, so it might nip at a child to get them to stop. So, always supervise children and dogs when they’re playing together!
7. Lack of Training or Socialization
And sometimes, a dog bites because it hasn’t been properly socialized or trained. A dog lacking socialization may be afraid of strangers and strange places, resulting in aggression and a bite.
How Can I Prevent Dog Bites?
Other than the steps listed above, what other things can you do to prevent dog bites from happening? There are plenty of ways to help keep dog bites from occurring!
How Can I Observe Dog Bite Prevention Week?
There are a handful of things you can do to observe Dog Bite Prevention Week and help spread the word on how to prevent dogs from biting.
First and foremost, follow the American Veterinary Medical Association on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on what they’re doing during this week. You can share their posts about dog bite prevention on your own social media. You can also use #PreventDogBites when sharing any information about dog bite prevention to be part of the conversation online.
Another fun way to observe this week is to share the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Jimmy the Dog videos that talk about dog bite prevention!
Dogs are wonderful, and we love them, but they are still animals, so there’s always a chance they could bite someone. That’s why Dog Bite Prevention Week exists. During this week, you can learn more about preventing dog bites and help educate others on how to do this, too. Knowing how to help keep dogs from biting could save you a lot of potential heartbreak down the road, so be sure to take part this April!
Featured Image Credit: Anukool Manoton, Shutterstock