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I think we can all agree that every dog is special and lovable no matter what breed he or she is. But unfortunately, the pit bull has acquired a new distinction as the breed distributing the most frequent as well as the most severe dog bites according to a new study from the Ohio State (OSU) Wexner Medical Center as reported by Channel 3 News Las Vegas.

While we see our pets as family, we often forget that dogs are still animals with their own instincts and independent reactions. We see stories in the news and TV shows of dogs valiantly defending their owners, so we must remember that dogs will defend themselves from you or a child whether you personally see yourself as a threat or not. After all, it’s what the dog thinks that matters.

With the study, the medical center is looking to equip both dog owners and others with the knowledge to keep themselves and children safe from dog bites so they’re promoting tips to aid in the progress of lasting change in lowering dog bite frequency. Here are some below:

  1. While not every dog will see things this way, leaning forward and reaching out for the dog to smell or lick you can be interpreted as a threat to a dog, resulting in a bite. Try turning to the side, crouching on your knees and patting your leg or the ground in front of you to invite the dog to you.
  2. Dog owners can reduce canine anxiety while they’re puppies by taking them out in public.

Now if the dog is an adult and has never been socialized, then instead of taking your adult dog out in public and stressing it out with new sights and sounds, socialize him at a gradual pace by teaching it different cues for different activities (ex. Find it, leave it, target it and turn,) then add “positive association” techniques, and slowly expose your pet to new sights (ex. A play date with one dog as opposed to a trip to a dog park.)

As stated by OSU otolaryngologist, Dr. Garth Essig, “The physical and psychological consequences from a dog bite can’t be overstated.”

This is doubly true for both parties when a victim or a parent of a victim decides to pursue a personal injury case against a dog owner who knows their family isn’t a violent animal. So if you’re a dog owner, socialize your pet to reduce the probability of dog bites. And meanwhile, all others should begin practicing safe interactions with other owners’ dogs.