Dog Biting Statistics
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a federal agency which monitors and controls human diseases, estimates over 4.7 million people are bitten per year. This is approximately 2 percent of the U.S. population. Ten to twenty people die each year from injuries resulting from dog bites. Most of these victims are children.
In addition to the physical injuries, people that have been bitten, especially children, can be emotionally scarred as well and will no longer feel comfortable around animals or even be terrified of them.
Dog biting is one of the most common problems being reported by dog owners. Some of them have already been experiencing aggression problems with their dogs, while others are completely unaware of running such a risk. Biting is a basic canine dominance behavior used from the time a puppy is able to move around in its litter. Biting among wild and domestic canines is used as communication to establish order in the pack.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
There are many reasons why dogs gradually or sometimes suddenly become aggressive. A dog that is repeatedly biting, leaving bite marks or drawing blood, must, for the safety of others, be confined, muzzled, or put down. But what causes dogs to bite?
- Pain and illness. One cause of aggressive biting is pain. A dog may bite if, for example, she suffers from arthritis or is touched where there is a growing tumor. She may bite if she has a severe case of indigestion or a bladder blockage. If you suspect pain as the cause, see your veterinarian immediately.
- There are at least two normal causes of aggressive dog biting. One is maternal protection of pups by the mom, and another is sibling rivalry. Here, the best advice is to properly socialize your dog at a very early age, to people as well as to other dogs. Sometimes, hormonal medication will effectively treat the aggression in these dogs.
- Dominance aggression. Your dog may think that she is the alpha dog. There are dogs that have a greater predisposition for asserting themselves as predators. Male dogs and certain breeds have a greater tendency toward asserting their dominance over their territory, other dogs, and people. The solution for this kind of dog is to get control quickly and establish your leadership through training.
- Territorial aggression. A dog may be territorially aggressive over certain objects such as her bed, her home and her food bowl. Establishing your leadership and counter-conditioning this dog are essential. It is important to begin this training at a very early age.
- Fear aggression. Dogs that are physically abused will build fear of that person and may react with defensive aggression one day. It will be difficult to rehabilitate this dog. Once she has bitten, she may not ever be trustworthy.
What Can You Do To Prevent Your Dog From Biting?
Obedience training is the quickest way to overcome dog biting problems. With obedience training and by adjusting some of your daily living behaviors you can correct most aggression problems. A dog that learns to obey commands finally comes to understand her position in the pack -which is at the bottom below you and all your family members.
If you are uncertain about your dog’s aggressive behavior, consult veterinarians or animal behaviorists for their opinions about whether your dog can be rehabilitated or should be put down.
And a word of caution! A dog that has bitten one time may bite again given a similar set of circumstances. The best insurance against a second occurrence is a muzzle, or confinement whenever she is around people.