According to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s estimates, over 37 percent of households in the U.S. have one or more dogs. While they may generally be loyal, loving companions, if threatened, even the most docile animal can attack, resulting in personal injuries.
According to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.7 million U.S. citizens are attacked by dogs each year. Approximately 800,000 of those seek medical attention, 386,000 require emergency treatment, and 12 die.
The most common personal injuries from dog bites occur on the arm/hand (over 45 percent), leg/foot (over 26 percent), and head/neck (over 22 percent). The highest rate of dog attacks occurs among children aged 5-9. The breeds listed as the most commonly linked to deadly attacks by the American Animal Hospital Association are Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Doberman Pinschers, Chow Chows, Saint Bernards, Great Danes, and Akitas.
You can’t be guaranteed that a pet will not attack someone. However, the AVMA has provided tips for those who consider adding a dog to their household.
Consider the breed of dog you wish to own. You can get information on general characteristics and temperaments of different breeds from a veterinarian. You should consider the size the dog will grow to be and the amount of time you will have available to devote to training, dog walking, and veterinary care. A puppy will be more time consuming than an adult dog.
Socialize your dog. Take your dog for walks in places where there will be other people and dogs.
Wait to get a dog until your children are older. Young children tend to be impulsive and fast moving. They are typically unable to understand how to handle a pet and will often underestimate the potential dangers of animals, even if they seem friendly. You should never leave a child unattended with a dog.
Train your dog. Your dog should respond to the basic commands of “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “no.”
Have your dog neutered. According to the AVMA, neutered dogs have a lesser tendency of aggression and are three times less likely to bite.