Tips for Protecting Your Child from Dog Bites

Nearly half of all U.S. Children have been bitten by a dog, and boys 5 to 9 years old appear to be at greatest risk. In addition, all children are more likely than adults to receive dangerous bites to the head, face, and neck.


Still, many bites are preventable if families follow basic safety tips and demonstrate responsible dog ownership. Parents can reduce the risk of your child suffering a potentially dangerous dog bite by following these guidelines:

* Choose a good breed for children. Some dogs are naturally more aggressive than others. Consider a good natured breed like a golden retriever, collie, old English sheepdog, or basset hound.

*Socialize your pet. Expose a puppy to a variety of situations and people, and continue that exposure as it grows older. But do not leave it unsupervised with your children. Many bites occur during playful roughhousing when a child does not realize that the animal is overexcited.

   #Train your dog. It should be willing to respond to commands consistently.
#Teach children never to disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
#Warn children never to approach a strange dog. Teach them to ask permission from a dog’s owner before petting it.
#Tell children not to run past dogs. Canines naturally like to chase things, and this gives them a reason to become excited and aggressive.
# Tell children never to stare a dog in the eye. The animal interprets it as a challenge and a sign of aggression.
# If a dog threatens your child, tell him or her to remain calm. Children should not turn and run. Tell them to avoid eye contact and stay still until the dog leaves. If they fall or a re knocked to the ground, tell them to curl into a ball with their hands over their heads and necks.

 Education, supervision can prevent dog bites:-   According to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), an estimated 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the United States each year. Fortunately, only about 20% of these require medical attention. With more than 52 million dogs kept as pets in the United States, bites will continue to pose a serious health threat to children.

Most of the 52 million dogs in this country kept as pets will never bite or kill anyone. Yet parents should remember that domesticated dogs retain their wild instincts and pose a health threat to their children.

Canine injuries range from simple puncture wounds to severe lacerations. Children are most likely to be bit on the head, face, or neck, while adults generally suffer wounds to the hands and upper arms. Over half are permanently scarred. The highest incidents of dog bite wounds occur in children five to fourteen years of age. Boys suffer dog bites twice as frequently as girls. Many parents falsely assume that their youngsters will be bitten by a strange or wild animal. More than 80% of bites are inflicted by the family pet or an animal known to the child.

Contrary to myth, few dog attacks can be traced to teasing and tormenting. Other human behaviors and characteristics, however, do make dogs more likely to attack them. One is being very young. Infants make up most of the fatal attack victims. It is suspected that these attacks occur because dogs mistake tiny babies for prey, and any breed of dog can make this tragic mistake. Therefore, never, ever leave any dog alone with an infant.

When the circumstances surrounding a bite are known, most dog attacks are provoked. Therefore, children should be educated on behaviors that will lessen their risk for an injury. Here are some guidelines:

· Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior.

· Teach children not to approach an unfamiliar dog or run away from a dog that is chasing them. A dog’s natural instinct is to chase and catch someone who is running. Instruct the child to stand still with their hands at their sides. The dog will most likely stop, sniff the youngster, and leave them alone when they realize that the child is not a threat.

· Instruct children not to approach an injured dog (or any other animal). Instead, tell an adult about the animal.

· Do not pet or approach a dog while he or she is eating, sleeping, or guarding something. Pets naturally guard their food, their new puppies, and their toys. Dogs also protect their owners, and the property that belongs to their owners–such as an owner’s home, yard, or car. Toddlers frequently are bitten because they get right in the dog’s face, moving quickly and making high-pitched, unpredictable noises.

· Do not pet a dog without letting it see and sniff you first. Before petting someone elses dog, ask the owner for permission.

·Keep fingers away from a dog’s mouth. ·

·Teach children when it is okay to play with a dog and when to leave the dog alone.

·Most important, parents need to realize that young children need constant supervision when they’re with dogs.

· St. Petersburg veterinarian Dr. Steve Bryan believes early intervention is the best way to avoid bites from the family dog. “All puppies should receive obedience training with the family, “stated Dr. Bryan. “At the first sign of aggressive behavior the owners must act and seek help from the veterinarian, since the first bite is often devastating and leaves no recourse for the pet.”

· Dr. Bryan also commented that the likelihood of a bite inflicted by the family pet can be reduced by choosing more docile breeds. Which bites most? Research usually points to German shepherds, pit bulls, chows, Dobermans, rottweilers, Siberian huskies, malamutes, wolf-hybrids, Akitas, Labradors, cocker spaniels and golden retrievers. Remember, there is a danger in believing that the family is safe because parents have not picked a breed from the “dangerous” list. Remember, any dog can bite.

· If a dog bites once, it is apt to bite again. If parents get a warning, they better act on it. Time for that dog to stay with an uncle on the farm.

The intent of this article is not to scare parents into not owning a dog. Remember, the vast majority of dog – child interactions are wonderful. When parents choose their dog wisely, show them lots of love and take proper precautions, the family pooch will be a welcome addition to the household.

 These dog bite prevention tips are provided courtesy of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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