Below, you'll find some stats about dog bites in the United States. When appropriate, I share my two cents about the stat and what that might mean for training.
- 4.5 million dog bites a year and rising (thats 1.5% of the population).
I don't know what this will mean for you, but a decent number of my clients with dogs who have bitten someone oftentimes forget that their dog has bitten someone. One reason why this might happen is because they make an excuse for the biting. For example, "Well, now that I think about it, he only bit me once, but it was just because he was sleeping and I woke him up." Or, "Well, he only bit that me/my spouse/my kid/my uncle that one time because his tail was stepped on and he doesn't like that." I'm saying this because the number may actually be higher if people actually remembered all the dog bites.
- 750,000 people require medical care each year for dog bites.
- 28,000 reconstructive surgeries were performed as a result of dog bites in 2015.
- Dog bites are the 5th most common reason children go to the emergency room.
- From 1993 to 2008, there was a 86% increase in the number of hospitalizations due to dog bites.
- From 1980's to 2012, there has been a 82% increase in the number of dog on human homicides (dogs killing people).
- The people most likely to be attacked (not bitten, but attacked) by dogs are children and elder.
In other words, prey. In the wild, predators attack and kill the young and old. Dogs are predators. Domesticated, yes. With a rich historical relationship with humans, yes. But predators nonetheless.
- Merritt Clifton conducted a study which, among other things, found that in more than 2/3 of the fatal or near fatal attacks, it was the first known dangerous behavior of the dog.
Here's why that is...
- People suck at reading dog body language and behavior.
- People make excuses for their dog's aggression that they themselves believe to be true.
- Dogs are predators and predators don't want you to know they're trying to kill you. To clarify, I'm only saying this in reference to dogs whose prey drive is focused on people. The point I'm trying to make is that there are absolutely warning signs. It's just that people own dogs they can't handle and/or excuse warning signs as one off events.
- Clifton also found that pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Presa Canarios made up 74% of the dogs in death and maiming attacks on humans.
Let me start out by saying that I own a Pit Bull and I own a South African Mastiff (aka Boerboel), the latter of which are dogs that are bred to defend villages from lions and hyenas (some Boerboels are even used to hunt leopards). My point is that I'm not against any breed of dog. That said, it's not shocking that breeds of dog that are bred to willingly go to combat against other dangerous animals are the ones that are most likely to kill and maim people. Right? If a study came out that said Labradors and Golden Retrievers are the most likely dogs at dog parks to get into the water and the stay in the water longer than all other breeds, no one would be shocked by this. However, for some reason, when you say _____ (fill in the blank with a "dangerous" breed) are more prone to aggressive behavior than other breed, some people lose their minds.
Your Possible Reaction
I know what some of you are thinking right now. "It's not the dog, it's how its raised!" Or, "It's not the dog, it's the owner!" Or, "It's not the breed of dog that matters!"
And you're kind of right.
I 100% agree that if a dog kills someone, there were certainly environmental factors at play. Since the owner controls the environment and the owner chooses to own that specific dog, it ultimately falls on the owner. However, just leaving it at that doesn't help people in the future to make better choices.
The question we should be asking is this: What is the easiest thing the owner could have done differently to avoid their dog from killing someone?!
And the answer to that is this: DON'T PICK OUT A DOG THAT YOU CAN'T HANDLE.
If you can't leash train a Labrador or can't stop a Yorkie from barking, chances are that you have NO place getting a strong breed dog or a dog with a strong personality in a soft breed. I'll say it until I'm blue in the face, the best money that you can spend on your dog is hiring a dog trainer to help you pick out a dog.
The average person doesn't want to be a professional dog trainer, which means they need a dog that will fit into their lifestyle as much as possible without the need for training (because the average person doesn't want to be a dog trainer). The problem is that the average person doesn't know how to pick out a dog that will fit into their life without training and that's where a dog trainer comes in. Hire a trainer to help you avoid the need for more expensive training later.
Questions or comments? Head on over to the contact page to submit your information along with your query. Also feel free to give me (Steve) a call to ask any question you may have! 314-655-8208