Be Dog Safe Week 2022
We have launched our annual ‘Be Dog Safe Week’ to help keep people safe around dogs, whether in the home or out and about. As part of our campaign, we revealed that shockingly 320 people were hospitalised in 2020 as a result of dog bites*. We fear this figure could rise with the recent increase in dog ownership and want to prevent this from happening by educating the public on how to interact appropriately around all dogs in order to keep themselves out of harm’s way.
64% of people hospitalised by dog bites in 2020 were over the age of 20, highlighting the need for all age groups to be aware of dog body language, especially the signs dogs display when they are uncomfortable. As these figures do not include Emergency Room or GP visits, we suspect the number of people treated for dog bite injuries could be much higher.
A recent survey that we conducted, found that only 41% of respondents were able to spot a dog exhibiting apprehensive body language, so we are on a mission to help dog lovers recognise when a dog does not want to be touched or interacted with. To help explain why a dog may act in a way that humans consider to be ‘out of the blue’, we have made an animation explaining ‘trigger stacking’ or more simply put, “how dogs can also have stressful days too”.
Dawn Kavanagh, Education and Community Manager, Dogs Trust Ireland explains: “Luckily, dogs often display certain behaviours when they are feeling stressed. Some of the signs to look out for are, flattened ears, avoiding eye contact, lip licking when no food is present, tucking their tail between their legs, showing the whites of their eyes or growling. It’s really important to note that we should never punish a dog growling, as this will just remove it as a means of communication.”
We would advise that, if you notice your dog is doing any behaviours that may indicate stress, give them space, or provide them with an activity they enjoy like a sniffing activity such as sprinkling some treats in grass to engage their nose and lower their stress levels.
Comedian Des Bishop continues: “Being safe around dogs is no joke! As a huge dog lover, I understand why people feel the urge to pet and fuss them. However, we know there are certain things that stress dogs out, like petting them while they are eating or sleeping for example. People may think, “My dog doesn’t mind me doing this.” But, in reality, this is likely to be upsetting your dog. Even dogs can have bad days and as a nation of dog lovers, we owe it to them to give them space when they ask for it.”
To highlight the importance of interacting safely with dogs, we are encouraging the public to visit DogsTrust.ie/BeDogSafe to find free resources, videos, and guides on being safe around dogs and information about signing up for free Be Dog Safe workshops. We are keen to highlight these resources are for anybody who may interact with a dog, not just for dog owners.