Recently we asked pet lovers this question – Has your dog ever hurt you?
The question came up when Dr. Debra told us about a woman who said her dog pulled the leash so forcefully that it injured her shoulder. The more we discussed this letter, the more we began how common it was for people to actually be injured by their dogs.
We think these types of safety issues need to be considered by all dog owners and by anyone who is thinking about getting a dog. That's why we want to talk about them today - not to scare you, but to educate you. The more we know about these common injuries, the more prepared we are to prevent them.
So, has your dog ever hurt you? What we learned from our poll is that these types of injuries happen more often than you might think - 91% of dog owners who responded to our poll have been hurt by their dogs at some time!
That's a pretty amazing statistic.
The most common danger reported in the poll is falling. Dogs get under your feet causing you to trip or fall - which becomes even more dangerous when it occurs near stairs. When dogs are placed on a leash they can pull and knock you off balance, causing a fall. Over 49% of dog lovers said their dog had either tripped them or caused them to fall.
Approximately 18% report being bitten by their dog, which a much higher number than we would have expected. Another 15% of dog owners were injured when their dogs tugged and pulled on their leash. Other injuries were also reported (see below).
So, what can you do to prevent dog-related injuries? Here are some tips. Tips to Prevent Being Injured by a Dog When you get a dog, leash train him. This will help prevent unnecessary pulling and tugging. We have some great articles on this subject – Leash Training Your Dog and Teaching Your Dog to Heel.
Make sure your dog knows who is "top dog." Obedience Train Your Dog. This will help with a variety of problems – especially related to biting.
Crate train your dog. Providing your dog with a safe place to sleep provides him with comfort and also keeps him from laying in areas that can cause you trip and fall.
Watch where you walk. Make sure your dog is not underfoot. Be extra careful when you are taking the stairs. Some pets will lie on the stairs or race you up or down. Both can knock you off balance and cause you to fall. It is a good habit to always hold the banister when ascending or descending the stairs.
Use a seatbelt to restrain your dog during car rides. Many injuries can occur to dogs and their owners while riding in the car. We have seen cases where dogs actually create accidents by jumping on their owner's lap while he is driving, preventing the driver from making a quick avoidance turn.
When your dog is injured, be VERY careful when you approach him.. Pain and fear can cause the nicest of dogs to lash out and bite – even the gentle hand that feeds them. Keep a muzzle with your first aid kit. Here's a great article on the subject – How to Approach and Injured Dog.
Never break up a dogfight.
Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. Dogs that have excess, unreleased energy are more likely to jerk, run or get under your feet. Read more about "Exercising Your Dog".