One of the many things I have to deal with on a fairly regular basis is dog bites. I have worked with hundreds of dogs that have aggression issues, and more than half of those dogs have bitten in the past. There are many types of aggression, and aggression can be directed toward people, other dogs, or animals. Here are a few statistics about dog bites in the US since 1975. All of these statistics were found on the site of http://dogbitelaw.com.
There are an average of 4.7 million dog bite incidents per year. More than 1000 individuals per day require medical treatment. Most of the victims are children (3.2 to 1) and the face is the most often bitten (77% of bites target the face, most frequent areas are the lips, nose, and cheeks).
In 2010 there were 34 fatalities. The breeds most likely to kill are the Pit Bull, Rottweiler, and Presa Canario and their mixes. In a 24 year period they were responsible for 65% of fatalities. The other 35% is a mix of 30 other breeds.
5% of life threatening or fatal maulings were serial attacks. A serial attack is an instance of a dog injuring someone after having injured a person or animal on a previous occasion. 48% of those attacks were Pit Bulls, 17% by Rottweilers, and the other 35% was a mix of 10 other breeds.
10% of life threatening or fatal maulings were rampage attacks. A rampage attack is an instance of a dog attacking multiple people or animals during a single incident. 58% of the rampage attacks were by Pit Bulls, 21% were by Rottweilers, and 21% were a mix of 14 other breeds.
28% of the attacks were by chained dogs. 87% were by male dogs, and 60% of those male doges were un-neutered. 77% of attacks are by dogs owned by the victim, family member, or friend. 61% of bites happen at home or in a familiar place. 47% of bites to children under the age of 4 years old are by the family dog, and 90% of those bites happen in the home. Other factors that contributed to increased aggression were pain, fear, poor health, inadequate training, lack of discipline, lack of socialization before 14 weeks, a puppy purchased as a pet store, and the first vet visit after 8 weeks.
So what do all these numbers tell us?? I know many of you are thinking that Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are dangerous dogs, and while these statistics show that, I can tell you from working with hundreds of dogs, that any dog can bite. It doesn't matter the breed. In fact, in October of 2000 a 6 week old infant was killed by the family pet Pomeranian. The Pomeranian is a toy breed dog that weighs approximately 4 pounds. The two were left sleeping in the same bed with each other. One thing is very consistent among all these numbers. HUMANS have the most influence on whether a dog is dangerous and bites.
If owners and handlers were more responsible dog bites would be greatly reduced. So I hope you're asking..."What can I do to prevent my dog from biting?" It's all very simple really...
Dogs are not lawn ornaments. Do NOT keep your dog chained or tethered outside for extended periods of time. Do not leave your dog outside unattended. This alone causes several behavior problems, aggression being the most serious, but not the only one.
Are you going to breed your dog? Do you know anything about breeding? Do you have any idea the costs involved with breeding your dog? Do you know the health risks involved in keeping your dogs intact? It greatly reduces the risk of aggression if you neuter your male dog. To keep this blog from getting too excessive in length, I'm not going to go into all that I would like to when it comes to keeping your dogs intact. If for no other reason, getting your dog spayed or neutered will extend their life. Don't you want to spend more time with your sidekick?
Just because you own a docile breed, doesn't mean the dog doesn't have the potential to bite. Your dog is an animal, and that's one of the many things animals do....they bite. Sure we can invest all kinds of money, time, effort, training, and buy all the products in the world...but every dog has their limit. They all have the potential to bite. When having friends and family over, make sure you're thinking about what's safe for your dog and the humans you let into your house. Remember the statistic above...more than 3/4 of dog bites are from "known" dogs. More than half of the bites occur at home, and almost half of the children under 4 are bitten by their own dog. The worst thing you can do for your dog is to take them for granted. Remember they are NOT our children, they are animals that we train to co-exist with us.
It's important to invest some time into your dog. Take the time to enroll in obedience training. Learn how to socialize your dog the right way. Take your dog to the vet, starting before 8 weeks. Help your dog become the best sidekick in the world!