Dog bites are the second leading cause of injuries in children and over 75% of bite cases involve dogs that belong to the victim’s family or a friend. If you bring home a puppy or dog, take the necessary steps to protect your kids with dog bite prevention: supervise them when they play with the dog, teach them dog etiquette to keep the family pet from biting unexpectedly, and show them what to do if they come across a stray dog.
Never leave kids alone with a dog
Even if you think your pet is the sweetest animal in the world, never leave a child unsupervised with a puppy or dog. Kids can be curious and may pull the dog’s ears or poke at him if you’re not around. Having your children and the dog in sight is not enough. Always be in a position to intervene immediately if anything happens, for the safety of your kids and the dog.
Teach dog etiquette
After supervision, the most important step in dog bite prevention is to teach your kids how to behave around a puppy or dog. Have your children follow the rules below to keep a dog from biting unexpectedly:
Never grab an object away from a dog
Dogs can be protective of their toys and may bite if you try to take them. If you want the toy, use an obedience command or treat to distract the dog. It’s better to outsmart him than to provoke an unnecessary dog bite.
Never bother a dog when he’s sleeping or eating
Give a dog plenty of space when he’s napping and leave the food dish alone while the dog eats.
Never sneak up on a dog
Always let your puppy or dog know that you’re nearby before you pet him. Let the dog smell your open hand and then slowly reach out to him.
Never bark or growl at a dog or stare into his eyes
These are aggressive behaviors to a dog and could cause him to bite.
Tell an adult if a dog shows any signs of aggression
This includes growling, nipping, or biting.
If your kids warn you of aggressive tendencies in your dog, don’t ignore the situation. The longer you wait to deal with the behavior, the more dangerous your dog will become. The American Family Physician website has information on treating a dog bite in their article Prevention and Treatment of Dog Bites if your child does get bitten.
Once your kids understand the rules of dog etiquette for the family pet, they should learn to protect themselves from stray dogs. The simplest means of dog bite prevention in these cases is to advise your children to avoid dogs they don’t know. If they’re approached by a strange dog, they should never make sudden movements, scream, or try to run away. Tell them to do the following instead:
If you’re standing
Keep your hands at your sides and avoid eye contact with the dog. Slowly back away until there’s a safe distance between you and the dog.
If you’re on the ground
Curl into a ball with your knees pulled close to your chest and hold your hands over your ears. Lie still and be quiet until the dog leaves.
With supervision and knowledge of dog bite prevention, your kids should be safe in the company of almost any dog.