NC State Professor Offers Tips to Prevent Dog Bites

Next week (May 18-24) is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, and Dr. Barbara Sherman, a specialist in animal behavior at North Carolina State University, says looking at things “from the dog’s point of view” can help keep you and dogs safe.

Sherman offers the following suggestions to avoid dog bites:

  • Some dogs don’t like strangers and may react defensively to them. Always ask for permission before you pet a strange dog. Never pet a dog that seems frightened.
  • Some dogs are territorial. Don’t reach through a fence or into a car to pet a dog.
  • Some dogs are frightened by rapid movements and loud voices. Move slowly and speak in a calm tone of voice when you approach a dog.
  • Some dogs are protective of special foods and resting sites. Stay away from a dog when it is eating, chewing on a special treat, and when it is sleeping.
  • Some dogs are threatened when you stare at them or reach over their heads, which may prompt a “keep away” response. Don’t stare at a dog’s face. Pet a dog on its back and not on its head.

Sherman is available for media interviews to discuss these and other suggestions related to preventing dog bites as part of National Dog Bite Prevention Week. She can be reached at 919/513-6141 or 919/ 460-8512 or via e-mail at

Nearly 5 million people in the United States suffer from dog bites annually, and about 800,000 bites are serious enough to require medical attention. Bite-related injuries are highest among children ages 5 to 9. Experts believe most bites can be avoided.

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