Terre Haute, IN - National Dog Bite Prevention Week may be wrapping up, but awareness of how to prevent dog-related injuries is always important.
"There's no doubt dogs are man's best friend, but accidents do happen," said State Farm agent Mark Huffman.
Accidents happen - that's the idea behind State Farm's dog bite prevention initiation, inspired by the fact taht in 2017, the insurance company paid $132 million on 3,600 dog-related injury claims across the country.
That comes out to over $36,000 a claim when averaged.
Huffman offers some tips for homeowners with dogs that could lessen their risk of incident.
"Always keep your animal on a leash," said Huffman. "Keep them in a fenced in or enclosed area if you're outside."
Terre Haute Humane Society Operations Manager Fred Strohm says he feels passionate about the issue of dogs and aggression, and that he places the responsibility on those interacting with unfamiliar dogs.
"What people need to think about when they approach an animal that they don't know is how they would feel if someone approached them that they didn't know," said Strohm.
Strohm offers some tips of his own for approaching a dog, including approaching the dog from at an angle rather than head-on, and crouching down to the dog's level.
"If you think about it, you know if you're a six foot person going up to a little toddler, the toddler's going to be intimidated," said Strohm. "It's the same thing with a dog."
Strohm says to offer the back of your palm under the dog's nose rather than first reaching over its head, which can also be intimidating.
Strohm says he doesn't believe in the saying, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks", and that every dog can be trained to behave properly in front of strangers.
And ultimately, Strohm says it's up to that stranger to interact properly with the dog.
"If you pay attention and learn what a dog is trying to tell you, through their body language and actions, then it's very easy to tell how they feel," said Strohm. "And then you can act appropriately to keep from getting bit."
Strohm added that he doesn't notice issues with any particular breed of dog when it comes to aggression, but that he does see more issues with smaller dogs, which he attributes to self-preservation due to their size.
For more information on humane education, visit the Terre Haute Humane Society webpage here.