Dog Bite Facts

Most people imagine that the majority of dog bites are from ranging strays that come out of nowhere and attack. The reality is so different than what people imagine.

10 Dog Bite Facts and Statistics

1. A wagging tail does not always mean a dog is friendly.

Unfortunately, a wagging tail doesn’t mean a dog is safe or friendly. Look for soft, wiggly body language. Stiff, forward, with a wagging tail may not be a dog you want to approach. Some signs that a dog might bite are obvious. Growling, snarling, lip lifting, baring teeth make it obvious that it’s not safe to approach. More subtle signs that a dog is uncomfortable, may include lip licking, cowering, worried facial expression, and showing the whites of the eyes (called whale eye.) These signs of fear can present a bite risk.

2. Children are at highest risk of dog bites.

Dr. Karen Overall notes that, children are bitten 2-3x more often than their population would predict. The American Veterinary Medical Association AVMA, indicates that boys 5-9 are at the highest risk. 3. Most people who are bitten by dogs don’t even need medical care. But this fact varies by age. Only 12% of adults need medical care, but 26% of children do. – JAMA More importantly, the overall lifetime risk to a child being a victim of a dog bite is 50%! – Public Health Reports

4. Most bites don’t come from unknown dogs.

The majority of dog bites (61%) are from the victim’s family dog or from a friend’s dog.

5. Dog bite statistics

There are approximately 90 million pet dogs in the United States. There are 4.7 million dog bite incidents per year. But of those, only 800,000 need medical attention. And deaths by dog attacks are exceedingly rare with an average of 30-50 per year. You are actually more likely to die by gunshot (by a lot), choking on food (5,200 deaths), or even getting stung by a bee (62). It’s similar to the number of deaths by lightning (average of 51 per year.)

Most of these dog bites are preventable.

aggressive dog cartoonThe saddest and most frustrating part of these statistics are that most of these bites are preventable. Dog professionals look at many of the “cute” videos of children and dogs on YouTube and our heart is in our throats watching some of these dangerous interactions with dogs that are clearly showing their discomfort.

Quick Dog Bite Prevention Tips

  • Parents should never let their children climb on dogs, or pull on their tails, ears, or paws.
  • Parents should not let their children approach dogs that are eating, chewing on a bone, or dogs that have a toy.
  • Parents should not let their children hug the dog. Most dogs don’t enjoy hugs and it’s safest to not allow children to hug them.
  • Don’t allow children to kiss dogs. This is body language that may make a dog feel threatened. Consider teaching children to kiss their hand and then “pet the kiss on to the dog.”
  • While most people feel like they read dog body language well, most adult pet owners would benefit by increase their skills in reading dog body language.
Understanding Dog Training offers dog bite prevention workshops to churches, community groups, schools and small private groups. Also, if you need help making sure your children or grandchildren have safe interactions with your dog, contact us!