70 million nice dogs…but any dog can bite.

National Dog Bite Prevention Week® takes place during the third full week of May each year, and focuses on educating people about preventing dog bites. With an estimated population of 70 million dogs living in U.S. households, millions of people – most of them children – are bitten by dogs every year. The majority of these bites, if not all, are preventable.

dog bite

Dog Bite Facts:

  • Prevent The Bite reports that according to the Center for Disease Control, dog bites were the 11th leading cause of nonfatal injury to children ages 1-4, 9th for ages 5-9 and 10th for ages 10-14 from 2003-2012.
  • The Insurance Information Institute estimates that in 2013, insurers across the country paid over $483 million in dog bite claims.
  • The American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery reports that according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 26,935 reconstructive procedures were performed in 2013 to repair injuries caused by dog bites.
  • The U.S. Postal Service reports that 5,581 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2013. Children, elderly, and postal carriers are the most frequent victims of dog bites.
  • The American Humane Association reports that 66% of bites among children occur to the head and neck.
  • Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs.
  • Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention.
  • Every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children.
  • Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.
  • Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
  • Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims.

Teaching Children How to Prevent Dog Bites

When you’re teaching children about dog bite prevention and how to be safe around dogs, keep it simple. Discuss animals, how we relate to them, and the role of animals in your family, not just how to avoid being bitten. If you have younger children, always supervise them around dogs and be mindful of how the child interacts with the dog so they learn to be gentle from the beginning.

Some easy tips that you can use to help kids understand the importance of respecting dogs and avoiding bites:

  • Avoid unknown dogs. If you see a dog you don’t know and it’s wandering around loose and unsupervised, avoid the dog and consider leaving the area. Consider alerting animal control.
  • When the owner is with their dog, always ask the owner for permission to pet their dog. Don’t ever pet a dog without asking first — even if it’s a dog you know, or a dog that’s seemed friendly toward you before.
  • Teach children to confidently, quietly walk away if they’re confronted by an aggressive dog. Instruct them to stand still if a dog goes after them, then take a defensive position. It often helps to tell them to “be a tree:” stand quietly, with their hands low and clasped in front of them, remain still and keep their head down as if looking at their feet. If they are knocked down, teach them to cover their head and neck with their arms and curl into a ball.
  • Teach children to avoid escalating the situation by yelling, running, hitting or making sudden movements toward the dog.
  • Teach children that if a dog goes to bed or to his/her crate, don’t bother them. Enforce the idea that the bed or crate is the dog’s space to be left alone. A dog needs a comfortable, safe place where the child never goes. If you’re using a crate, it should be covered with a blanket and be near a family area, such as in your living room or another area of your home where the family frequently spends time. Do not isolate your dog or his/her crate, or you may accidentally encourage bad behavior.
  • Educate children at a level they can understand. Don’t expect young children to be able to accurately read a dogs’ body language. Instead, focus on gentle behavior and that dogs have likes and dislikes and help them develop understanding of dog behavior as they grow older.
  • Teach children that the dog has to want to play with them and when the dog leaves, he leaves — he’ll return for more play if he feels like it. This is a simple way to allow kids to be able to tell when a dog wants to play and when he doesn’t.
  • Teach kids never to tease dogs by taking their toys, food or treats, or by pretending to hit or kick.
  • Teach kids to never pull a dog’s ears or tail, climb on or try to ride dogs.
  • Keep dogs out of infants’ and young children’s rooms unless there is direct and constant supervision.
  • As a parent, report stray dogs or dogs that frequently get loose in your neighborhood.
  • Tell children to leave the dog alone when it’s asleep or eating.
  • Sometimes, especially with smaller dogs, some children might try to drag the dog around. Don’t let them do this. Also discourage them from trying to dress up the dog — some dogs just don’t like to be dressed up.
  • Don’t give kids too much responsibility for pets too early — they just may not be ready. Always supervise and check on pet care responsibilities given to children to ensure they are carried out
  • Remember: if you get your kids a pet, you’re getting yourself a pet, too.

National Dog Bite Prevention Week was created by the American Veterinary Medical Association. The above material was provided on the AVMA website. For more information or sources, visit their website:

https://www.avma.org/Events/pethealth/Pages/Dog-Bite-Prevention-Week.aspx