No one wants to see a child bitten by a dog.
Although sometimes, with all of the ear pulling and screeching that goes on, I can sympathise with the poor animal when it finally snaps.
Many would argue that the first step to preventing a dog bite is to train your children (yes, your children) to safely interact with dogs.
That means not letting the little tyke run full-tilt towards someone’s rottweiler, and other sage advice.
Instead, the authors of a new study that looks into 15 years of visits for facial dog bites at two emergency departments, and more than 45 years of data from different dog bite studies, suggest the following.
…ask the dog owner for permission to pet their dog, then turn to the side, crouch down on your knees, pat your leg and let the dog come to you.
The study also found that certain dogs were more likely to bite someone than others.
“Because we often didn’t know what type of dog was involved in these incidents, we looked at things like weight and head shape,” explained study author Dr Garth Essig, an otolaryngologist at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, in Columbus.
Bite injuries from pit bulls were the most frequent and most severe, followed by mixed-breed dogs and German shepherds, the findings showed.
The researchers also identified the physical traits of dogs that pose a higher bite and injury risk.
For example, dogs weighing more than 30kg and those with more of a square-shaped head – such as a chow chow or pug – were more likely to bite and cause serious injury.
The author of the study hopes that the findings will help people choose the right breed when they’re looking for a puppy to join their family.
(We’ll put aside the moral quandary of designer dogs like French bulldogs and pugs for now.)
As for general practice: make sure your dogs are loved and looked after, and keep them on a lead when you take them outside of your property.
The same applies to toddlers (possibly minus the leash).
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