How to Prevent Dog Bites During the Holidays

friendly cartoon dog with a mean dog shadow

All dogs bite. Even canines that are not known to be aggressive can become frustrated by the commotion during the holidays and take a nip out of an unsuspecting adult or child. The holidays are an ideal time to visit with friends and family as well as entertain in your home. Since about half of American households have pets and more than half of those pets are dogs, there is a good chance that your children or someone else's kids will be around a dog during holiday outings that you attend. Unfortunately, most children do not know that even familiar dogs can respond differently due to holiday stress. With so many strange people around, a man's best friend can feel threatened or may become overly protective in their home during seasonal celebrations.

Tips to Lessen the Risk of Children Being Bitten

If you are a parent and/or dog owner, you need to be proactive in lessening the risk of anyone being bit. Check out these quick tips to keep you safe and lawsuit free during the holiday season:

  1. Avoid Changes in Routine - Animals thrive on their daily routines more than we do. When you modify your dog's routine, it becomes more difficult to predict what happens next. Avoid making your pet endure hunger and stick to your normal walking times, especially when they need to relieve themselves.
  2. Never Assume Your Pet Feels Safe - In the case of dog bites, it is easy to miss the subtle signs of pet stress and a missed signal can result in an unexpected dog bite. If you think your dog has had enough fun, create a calm safe place where they can get away from the crowd and relax.
  3. Put Dog Toys & Food Away - Some dogs guard their belongings and this can mean the new pet toy they just received as a holiday gift. So, pick up dog toys, food bowls, and other items when visitors come over.
  4. Hug and Kiss Grandma Instead - Assign an adult in each room to keep a watchful eye. Most importantly, do not let anyone hug, kiss or restrain your dog. Most pets do not like it and it can add to their holiday frustration and anxiety.
  5. Add Physical Activities - Before and after holiday events in your home or on the road, plan an extra walk or trip to the local dog park, so your furry friend can burn off some of their pent-up energy. Also, let them engage in plenty of uninterrupted sniffing.
  6. Don't Get Your Dog All Wound Up - Kids and adults can accidentally get your pet all wound up at the worst possible time. From the initial greetings at the door to backyard activities, it is important that an adult supervise all interactions.
  7. Stay Out Of The Dog's Face - Although most adults are bitten on the hands, arms, or legs, children most often are bitten on the face or neck. This can happen when they fail to respect a dog's space. Once an invasion occurs, the pet can lash out in protective mode.

While these tips can help you avoid a dog bite over the holiday, bites can still happen. If so, make certain the proper medical care is given to prevent infection or other complications.

Don't Forget the Holidays Have Your Pet on High Alert

Dogs make wonderful pets, however, they are still animals, and teaching your kids how to avoid dog bites is important for their safety. From the sights, sounds, and smells of the holiday season to the unusually hyperactive nature of children who are impatiently waiting for the “Big Day”, dogs can easily become anxious, frustrated, and afraid this time of year. Nonetheless, planning ahead to avoid upsetting situations can go a long way toward keeping things running smoothly during this festive season. Remember, because they cannot talk, dogs may nip, bite, and knock people down in the excitement. This is especially true for kids and elderly people alike.

From the attorneys and staff at Schackow & Mercadante, have a safe and Happy Holiday season.