Dog Bite Injuries and Fatalities
in the United States

Dog Bite Prevention Strategies


Dog Bite Injuries

Dog Bite Fatalities

Risk Factors:
Breed, Victim & Place

Cost of Dog Bites

Factors that Impede Progress

Event Analysis

Prevention Strategies


Education campaigns about dog cues can prevent bites
“Bear is afraid. Bear is happy.” Photos from the Doggone Safety Calendar”
Proper socialization prevents dog aggression

An Application of Haddon's Ten Strategies

1. “Prevent the creation of the hazard in the first place”.
This refers to true primary prevention and it occurs at the individual level of dog owners. Examples include proper dog socialization and training, and the provision of appropriate medical care.

2. “Reduce the amount of the hazard brought into being.”
This strategy occurs at both the individual and community level. Examples include neutering male dogs in order to reduce aggressive tendencies, limiting reproduction in situations where dogs have little chance of proper socialization, confronting the earliest signs of aggressive tendencies in a dog and limiting the breeding of pit bulls. Pit bull reduction is placed here in strategy two rather than in strategy one, because even when properly socialized and trained, pit bulls remain extremely aggressive, and thus, it is more appropriate from a prevention standpoint to reduce the numbers of pit bulls that are bred. This strategy occurs at the individual level when individual dog owners take steps to responsibly neuter their dogs or otherwise control dog reproduction, and it occurs at the community level when breed specific ordinances that restrict the ownership and breeding of certain dogs and when animal control agencies promote spay and neuter campaigns.

Neutering a dog reduces the amount of hazard brought into being. The mobile Neuter Scooter!

3. “Prevent the release of the hazard that already exists.”
Examples include the enactment and enforcement of leash laws that discourage free roaming dogs in public places, informed breed selection and limiting submissive behaviors among dog owning families, such as hugging a dog or patting a dog on the head. Submissive actions, though unintended, can cause aggressive behaviors in dogs, thus, “releasing the hazard in the first place.” Informed breed selection involves selecting the proper dog for a particular household. For example, an unknown dog older than four months should not be placed in a household with young children unless it has been evaluated by an animal behaviorist or by a veterinarian. By matching dogs and households, the potential hazard of biting is limited.

Leash laws prevent the release of the hazard. Muzzles provide a material barrier.

4. “Modify the rate or spatial distribution of release of the hazard from its source.”
The spatial distribution of the hazard from its source could be modified if there were regulations that limited the number of dogs per household, and thus, limited the number of potential biting dogs.

5. “Separate, in time or in space, the hazard and that which is to be protected.”
An application of this strategy involves separating children from aggressive dogs, dogs that have recently delivered litters of puppies, and dogs that are eating or sleeping. Another way to separate a biting dog from its potential victim would be to arm the person with pepper spray or a firearm.

6. “Separate the hazard and that which is to be protected by interposition of a material barrier.”
Fences, enclosures and muzzles are examples of material barriers that are interposed between biting dogs and their potential human victims.

Kennels and fences present material barriers between biting dogs and their potential victims. Padded suits protect workers who must are exposed to aggressive dogs.

7. “Modify relevant basic qualities of the hazard.”
Other than the removing the teeth or the limbs of a dog, it is difficult to apply this strategy of modifying the basic qualities of the hazard.

8. “Make that to be protected more resistant to damage.”
Persons who work in occupations that bring them into close proximity with dogs might make themselves more resistant to the damage of a dog bite by wearing protective padding, footwear or gloves.

9. “Begin to counter damage already done by the environmental hazard.”
Early damage control requires prompt and appropriate emergency medical care in the emergency department of a hospital, or a primary care clinic, and perhaps, from emergency medical technicians.

10. “Stabilize, repair and rehabilitate the object of the damage.”
This requires competent medical, surgical and rehabilitative care.

Dog Bite Prevention Resources:

Humane Society of the United States:

American Veterinary Medical Association, educational resources for dog bite prevention:

Prevent the Bite:

A very thorough ten step plan for reducing dog bites is described at Dog Bite Law: