According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dog bites send nearly 368,000 victims to hospital emergency departments per year (1,008 per day). Dogs bite nearly two percent of the U.S. population -- more than 4.7 million people annually. Getting bitten by a dog is the fifth most frequent cause of visits to emergency rooms among children. Dog trainer Robert Cabral, known for his unique Black Belt Dog Training ( http://www.blackbeltdogtraining.com ) approach, shares his 10 Tips to Avoid Dog Bites in observance of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, sponsored by the CDC, May 17-23, 2010.
1. Do not approach strange dogs, whether on leash or off. Don’t feel the urge to greet every dog you see.
2. Teach children not to run directly at dogs to try and meet them. Children should be taught not to approach strange dogs or to run, play wildly or scream in front of loose dogs.
3. When meeting a dog, ask the owner if the dog is friendly before engaging them or petting them.
4. Do not stare directly into the eye of a dog. Dogs often see this as a threat.
5. Always allow a dog to see you and sniff you before you pet them. Keep your interaction with the dog short and positive. Don’t start a play session with a strange dog.
6. Never leave children unattended with dogs, no matter how well you think you know the dog. According to dogbitelaw.com a new dog in the house is dangerous for the first 60 days. In 2007 and 2008, 20% of fatal dog attacks involved a new person or dog sharing a household for a period of two months or less.
7. Dogs are not stuffed animals: do not cuddle them, climb on top of them or kiss them if you don’t know them, and think twice about doing it even if you do know them.
8. If a dog is approaching you, do not run away. This triggers a dog’s prey drive. Dogs are more likely to bite someone who is running away from them than someone standing still. The best posture to assume is to stand erect with your arms folded. Turn slightly sideways to the dog and do not look directly at the dog. Even if the dog is jumping and barking at you, remain still. Most dogs will lose interest in an object that is not moving.
9. If a dog knocks you down, roll into a ball and remain as motionless as possible. Cover your head with your arms. Do not scream or roll around. Dogs may bite in playfulness.
10. If a dog is eating or playing with something, do not approach him to play with him or to take the object away from him.
Robert Cabral is a professional dog behaviorist and trainer with a background in Japanese Martial Arts. He applies many of those principles in his Black Belt Dog Training, a Zen-like approach to transform dogs with difficult behavior patterns. In addition, his passion is the nonprofit he founded called Bound Angels ( boundangels.org and boundangels.tv ), which is dedicated to giving a voice to animals, in particular those living in our nation’s shelters at risk of being killed: some for bad behavior, some just because they are no longer wanted. Robert has worked with countless shelter dogs, and as a result of his work, these animals have found loving homes. He also serves on the advisory board for K9 Connection in Los Angeles where he tests their dogs and speaks to at-risk teens and those in foster care about animal behavior.