As an adult, you have probably interacted with dogs more times than you could count. Based on your own experiences, you probably feel relatively confident interacting with almost any dog you might meet. However, people are not born with this knowledge.
Your child has not had the same experiences you had with dogs, and learning the hard way how to be safe can lead to serious and painful injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children are more likely than adults are to be bitten by a dog, and the injuries children receive are usually more severe than the injuries adults receive. With this vulnerability in mind, it is especially important to do what you can to prevent your child being bitten.
What do kids need to know to stay safe around dogs?
You should always supervise young children when they are around dogs. However, as your children grow up, you can begin teaching them how to be gentle with dogs and how to avoid being bitten.
Some important habits your child can practice, include:
- Only petting a dog after getting the owner’s permission
- Leaving dogs alone if they are sleeping, eating or caring for puppies
- Never pulling a dog’s tail or ears
- Never trying to ride a dog
How can my child be safe when faced with an aggressive dog?
If a dog begins showing signs of aggression, have your child try to confidently and quietly walk away. If that does not work and the dog goes after your child, instruct your child to stand still like a tree, with his or her hands together and head down.
It is important that your child does not yell, swat or try to run away from the dog. These actions could provoke the dog.
If the dog knocks your child down, tell your child to curl into a ball. Your child should then use his or her hands to protect sensitive areas like the head and neck.
What should I do a dog does bite my child?
If a dog bites your child, it is often prudent to have the wound examined a doctor, even if it does not look severe. Dog bite wounds can easily become infected and can allow diseases to spread from the dog to your child.
If possible, try to get a copy of the dog’s vaccination history to bring with to your child’s medical appointment. If the dog is up to date on certain vaccines, like rabies, your child’s doctor may be able to rule out unnecessary treatments for your child.
It may also be wise to report the attack to your local animal control or law enforcement agency. This can help document the incident and may even help prevent future incidents from occurring.
If someone else’s dog injures your child, it may be appropriate to seek legal justice. Dog bite wounds can be expensive to treat, but you may be able to receive compensation to help cover medical bills and other related expenses.