This year, National Dog Bite Prevention Week® has moved from May to April, and will remain a signature April event in the future. Sponsors of National Dog Bite Prevention Week moved the event up in the calendar in an attempt to educate the public and prevent more bite injuries. Bites occur most commonly in children, and more bite injuries occur in the summer months. The exact reason for these phenomena are unknown, but perhaps because children and dogs are frequently together outdoors in the warmer months or maybe dogs are cranky, just like the rest of us are when the weather is hot and sticky.
Dog bite injury affects many facets of society and the coalition sponsoring the event reflects that. The coalition includes the American Veterinary Medical Association, United States Postal Service, State Farm Insurance, American Humane, Insurance Information Institute, and Positively®, Victoria Stilwell. Each one of these organizations brings valuable information from their perspective about dog bite prevention. I have summarized some of those resources below.
American Veterinary Medical Association
Doggie Do’s and Don’ts: Dog Safety and You, the AVMA bilingual coloring book. You can download a copy for free for your child or order enough for a whole classroom of children.
State Farm Insurance
Insurance companies pay millions of dollars each year for dog bite claims and have a vested interest in decreasing the annual number of dog bites. State Farm’s website provides information about preventing and responding to a bite incident. The site also has several other dog safety related articles of interest to pet families.
If you are a teacher looking for a lesson plan about animals, check the website of American Humane. Although not directly focused on dog bite prevention, these prefabricated plans have been devised for students 5-7 years of age and run 45 minutes in length. The plan includes worksheets and coloring pages which can easily be reproduced for classroom use.
Positively, Victoria Stilwell
This British television dog trainer and promoter of positive re-enforcement methods of dog training has recorded a podcast with tips to stop dogs from biting. Download the podcast and make listening to it a family activity.
A Few Personal Favorites
Dog bite prevention information is not limited to coalition members. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a podcast on bite prevention.
Dogs participating in obedience training are less likely to bite and I recommend all puppies and dogs successfully complete an obedience training course. One of the many courses available is the Canine Good Citizen program sponsored by the American Kennel Club.
Finally, for the most updated information on bite prevention, tune into the National Dog Bite Prevention Week coalition’s press conference on Thursday, April 6, featuring:
• Demonstrations by veterinary specialists on dog bite prevention
• Release of the number of postal carriers bitten in 2016
• Announcement of the average cost of dog bite claims nationally in 2016, as well as the top 10 states with the largest number of dog bite claims in the U.S.