SCHAUMBURG, Ill., April 6, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — According to the latest data from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 45% of U.S. households include a dog or dogs, for a total of 88 million canine companions in the United States. While most of these dogs will coexist peacefully with us, dog bites remain a serious public health risk, with more than 4.5 million people bitten each year in the United States.
During National Dog Bite Prevention Week (April 9-15), a coalition of veterinarians, animal behavior experts and insurance representatives are spreading awareness of this issue and sharing tips on how to prevent bites from happening.
Of particular concern is the increased risk of dog bites to delivery drivers. E-commerce sales as a percentage of total retail sales have doubled in the past seven years, and many Americans are having more and more deliveries brought to their doors. These interactions have the potential for trouble, but with a little planning, training and preparation, dog owners can make sure these interactions are safe.
“Over the past several years, many of us have adapted to new routines, including increased online shopping and home deliveries, which can be potentially disruptive to our pets,” said Dr. Lori Teller, president of the AVMA. “To help prevent bites in these and other situations, it’s crucial that we prepare our dogs for safe interactions both inside and outside our homes.”
“The tragedy of dog bites is that most are preventable,” said Victoria Stilwell, celebrity dog trainer and behavior expert. “The more we take the time to understand dogs’ needs and teach them the skills to cope with the challenges of living in a domestic environment, the less bites will occur.”
All dogs, even well-trained, gentle dogs, are capable of biting when provoked. This could include when they’re eating, sleeping, caring for puppies or when an unexpected stranger, such as a delivery driver, approaches the house. To help prevent bites in these situations, the National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition offers the following advice:
- Secure your dog: Make sure your dog is secured in a separate room, crate or fenced area during delivery times. This prevents any surprise encounters between your dog and the delivery driver. Do not leave your dog unleashed in your front yard when you expect a delivery.
- Use clear signage: Place visible signs on your door or on your property to warn delivery personnel about the presence of a dog.
- Train your dog: Train your dog to be comfortable with strangers and to follow basic commands.
- Socialize your dog: Expose your dog to a variety of people, animals and environments to help them become more comfortable with new situations.
- Communicate with delivery services: If possible, notify delivery services about your dog and any special instructions for delivering packages to your home.
- Monitor your dog’s behavior: Regularly monitor your dog’s behavior and consult with your veterinarian if you notice any signs of aggressive behavior.
In addition, the coalition provides the following tips to prevent dog bites in other situations:
- Don’t ever leave children unsupervised with dogs, even with family pets. More than 50% of all dog-related injuries are to children, and for kids that are under four years of age, often those bites are to the head and neck region. American Humane offers a free online booklet available for families with children called “Pet Meets Baby,” providing valuable information on introducing a new child to a home with a pet – or a new pet into a home with a child.
- Make sure your pet is healthy. Not all illnesses and injuries are obvious, and dogs are more likely to bite if they are sick or in pain. If you haven’t been to the veterinarian in a while, schedule an appointment for a checkup to discuss your dog’s physical and behavioral health.
- Take it slow. If your dog has been mainly interacting with your family since you brought them home, don’t rush out into crowded areas or dog parks. Try to expose your dogs to new situations slowly and for short periods of time, arrange for low-stress interactions, and give plenty of praise and rewards for good behavior.
- Educate yourself in positive training techniques and devote time to interact with your dog.
- Be responsible about approaching other people’s pets. Ask permission from the owner before approaching a dog, and look for signs that the dog wants to interact with you. Sometimes dogs want to be left alone, and we need to recognize and respect that.
- Make sure that you are walking your dog on a leash and recognize changes in your dog’s body language indicating they may not be comfortable.
- Always monitor your dog’s activity, even when they are in the backyard at your own house, because they can be startled by something, get out of the yard and possibly injure someone or be injured themselves.
In addition to potential physical and emotional injury, dog bites can be costly. Janet Ruiz, director of strategic communications at the Insurance Information Institute, reported that in 2022, there were 17,597 claims for dog bites and related injuries, with the total cost of claims at $1.136 billion and an average cost per claim of $64,555, which represents an increase of 32% from 2021 and 132% percent over the last 10 years.
“On a positive note, the number of claims decreased by 2.2% over the past year, which underscores the progress of educating dog owners to take responsibility for their beloved pets,” Ruiz said.
In 2022, State Farm paid nearly $211 million dollars for nearly 3,300 dog-related injury claims. Those may be dog bites or they could also be injuries from a dog accidentally pulling someone down the stairs or off a curb.
“As the largest property insurer in the country, State Farm is committed to educating people about pet owner responsibility and how to safely interact with dogs,” said Heather Paul, public affairs specialist at State Farm. “It is important to recognize that any dog, including ones that are in the home, can bite or cause injury. Every dog has a unique personality and while breed or type may dictate how they look, how a dog reacts isn’t guaranteed by those qualities.”
“While dog bites are a serious public health issue, the good news is that most dog bites are preventable,” said AVMA President Dr. Teller. “By taking steps to train and properly socialize our dogs, and educate ourselves and loved ones on dog bite prevention, we can help reduce bites and keep dogs in loving homes, where they belong.”
For more information on preventing dog bites and National Dog Bite Prevention Week, visit AVMA.org/DogBitePrevention.
About the AVMA
Serving more than 100,000 member veterinarians, the AVMA is the nation’s leading representative of the veterinary profession, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of animals, humans and the environment. Founded in 1863 and with members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 60 countries, the AVMA is one of the largest veterinary medical organizations in the world.
About State Farm
For 100 years, the mission of State Farm has been and continues to be to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams. State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of auto and home insurance in the United States. Its more than 19,400 agents and approximately 53,400 employees serve over 87 million policies and accounts – which includes auto, fire, life, health, commercial policies and financial services accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 39 on the 2021 Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com.
About Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I)
Founded in 1960, the Triple-I, an affiliate of The Institutes, provides objective, fact-based information about insurance while also being a trusted source of unique, data-driven insights which inform and empower consumers. The Triple-I wants people to have the information they need to make educated decisions, manage risk, and appreciate the essential value of insurance.
About American Humane
American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization. Founded in 1877, American Humane is committed to ensuring the safety, welfare, and well-being of animals, and our leadership programs are first to serve in promoting and nurturing the bonds between animals and people. For more information or to support our work, please visit www.americanhumane.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About Victoria Stilwell
Victoria Stilwell is a world-renowned dog trainer and behavior expert, best known as the star of the international hit TV series It’s Me or the Dog (Animal Planet, US). Having filmed over 130 episodes since 2005, Stilwell reaches a worldwide audience with her philosophy of positive, humane dog training methods. She also served as a judge for Greatest American Dog (CBS) and as the on-camera behavior specialist for Dogs Might Fly (Sky One) and the One Show (BBC1). She recently created, produced and narrated the popular nature series, Dogs With Extraordinary Jobs (Smithsonian Channel).
Stilwell is the founder and President of the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training and Behavior – the world’s premier dog trainer educational institution, creating new generations of positive dog trainers and enhancing “The Future of Dog Training.” She is the author of four best-selling books: It’s Me or the Dog – How to have the Perfect Pet, Train Your Dog Positively, The Secret Language of Dogs and The Ultimate Guide to Raising a Puppy. Her website www.positively.com is a popular destination for dog lovers across the globe.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Michael San Filippo
Media Relations Manager
American Veterinary Medical Association
SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association
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