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What dog owners can do to prevent bites

Here are some guidelines:

? Spay or neuter your dog. Spaying and neutering dogs, especially male dogs, greatly reduces their aggression. According to many studies, unneutered dogs are 2.6 times more likely to bite than dogs that have been neutered. Male dogs are more likely to bite than female dogs, and are responsible for about 92% of fatal dog attacks in the United States. Of those fatal dog attacks, about 94% of them involved male dogs who were not neutered. However, female dogs can also become aggressive and are more likely to attack at certain times. Female dogs in heat or female dogs that have given birth and are nursing their puppies can behave unpredictably because of their instinct to protect their young. Nursing female dogs or female dogs in heat are more dangerous than spayed females. To reduce the chance of your dog becoming aggressive, talk with your veterinarian about spay and neuter services. In many locations, local humane organizations or animal shelters offer free or low-cost spay and neuter programs.

? Train your dog. Giving your dog basic training has many benefits, including reducing the risk of aggression. It is important to begin basic training for puppies between 8 and 16 weeks old. This basic training includes housebreaking your pet, teaching them to respond to commands about where they can and cannot go and giving them the chance to interact with other people and pets. You can enroll in a basic pet training course at a local pet store, hire a trainer or do it at home for free on your own with the help of a number of guide books.

? Socialize your dog. For puppies as well as adult dogs, socialization is key to preventing them from becoming alarmed and potentially aggressive in strange situations. Just as with basic training, you should begin to socialize your dog with other animals and people starting with puppies between 8 and 16 weeks old. Expose your puppy to a variety of people, places, dogs and other animals starting at a young age to increase your chances of your puppy growing into a well-adjusted adult dog. Have your puppy interact with members of the family, friends, people in public places and other animals, and make sure they learn good manners around all of these parties. As your dog grows into an adult, make sure this socialization continues.

? Supervise your dog. An unaccompanied dog is more likely to act wild. Some typical behaviors of unsupervised dogs include uncertainty, defensiveness and over confidence, which can increase the likelihood that they will act out in a dangerous way toward other people or other animals. Just as parents of young children should supervise their kids around both strange and family pets, pet owners need to supervise their dogs to prevent them from acting out or getting into dangerous situations.

? Restrain your dog. Just like unsupervised dogs, unrestrained dogs have a greater tendency to exhibit dangerous behavior. Many dog attacks occur on the dog owners property as a result of dogs that were allowed to roam loose or were otherwise unrestrained. These dogs can also escape the owners property entirely, and may decide to defend the entire neighborhood as their territory in an aggressive manner. Dogs who are allowed to run free are more likely to attack, and they are also more likely to be attacked by other dogs or get hit by a car. Comply with your local leash laws when your pet is off your property. On your property, make sure that your yard is fenced in and that any holes or gaps in the fencing are quickly repaired.

? Dont chain up your dog. While keeping dogs restrained is important, chaining them is dangerous and can actually increase the chances that they will act aggressively. Dogs that are chained up are more stressed and vulnerable, and this can lead them to act out in various ways. Chained dogs are nearly three times more likely to bite, according to the American Humane Association. Instead of chaining or tethering your dog in the yard, put up a fence to contain your dog on your property.