Battersea is advising families to take special care with pet dogs over the festive season as it is a notorious time for dog attacks in the home.
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is advising families to take special care with pet dogs as the Christmas holiday period is a notorious time for dog attacks around the home.
Christmas often means a change in the daily routine. Dogs, children, aunts or granddads who may not all be used to being in each other’s company, will gather together. Some family visits have led to a higher number of dog attacks in the family home at Christmas time.
Ali Taylor, Battersea’s Head of Canine Welfare Training said: “It’s a sad fact that there’s often a serious dog attack in private homes at this time of year, when both people, relatives and their dogs are taken out of their normal routine.
“A dog can get confused by all the unusual comings and goings around its home and sometimes people of all ages, but especially young children, don’t really know how to behave around dogs or how to read a dog’s body language. Battersea knows the consequences of this can be serious and sometimes even fatal.”
Earlier this year, the NHS revealed that the number of serious dog-related injuries they dealt with rose five per cent in England, with one in six injuries involving a child aged 10 years or under.
However, Battersea believes this figure could be significantly reduced through greater awareness of the body language and habits of dogs and is offering advice to help minimise the risk of injury this Christmas.
Ali Taylor said: “Battersea is particularly concerned about the high number of dog attacks on children, especially as we know some of these could be avoided. If children understand what it is that makes a dog tick, they have a better chance of not being hurt and will feel a lot more comfortable and confident around dogs.
“Sometimes the excitement of Christmas can get a bit much for children and pets surrounded by new presents, but it’s really important to remember that any dog has the ability to get confused and become aggressive if provoked. This is nothing to do with a breed or type of dog, so all dog owners should take the necessary steps to make sure their dog behaves appropriately and is not provoked, even by well-meaning relatives.”
Here’s Battersea’s safety tips around dogs. This advice is helpful for all ages and especially children.
Be gentle and quiet around dogs;
Even if the owner is a relative, ask them if you can pat their dog;
It’s wise to roll your hand into a fist and allow the dog to sniff you first; and
Ask the owner or relative where the dog likes to be stroked.
Sneak up on a dog;
Stare a dog in the eye;
Disturb a dog when it's sleeping or eating;
Assume that a dog will always want to play;
Pat a dog that is on its own; and
Run away if you see a strange dog in the park.
If you are frightened by a dog:
Fold your arms across your chest;
Look at the ground or the sky but not at the dog; and
Don’t shout or scream or jump around.
Battersea launched an animated film earlier this year aimed at ages four to eleven to encourage them to understand dogs and how they should behave around them. You can access the free film here:
Keep abreast of the latest veterinary news and views. The vetsonline newsletter is sent out weekly, free of charge, to all subscribers.