Dogs can be cute and furry companions for children, but they are still animals. There are an estimated 36.5 percent of households owning dogs in America, according to the 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook. Children are most at risk for dog attacks. Over 150,000 children under the age of 14 are bitten by dogs each year, which comprise 40 percent of all cases.
Tips for Keeping Your Child Safe around Dogs
Young children may not grasp the concept of boundaries around animals, or be able to read a dog’s signals that it wants to be left alone. It’s important to take measures to keep your child safe around dogs, including family pets, those that belong to others, and strays.
Below are some dog safety for kids tips.
- Teach your child not to approach dogs quickly. Kids tend to want to run up to dogs and wrap their arms around them. Dogs can easily get spooked or angry and lash out. Explain to your child that he should always walk (not run, skip, skateboard, etc.) past dogs so as not to invoke dogs’ natural tendency to chase.
- Ask the owner’s permission if it’s okay for your child to pet the dog.
- Teach your child how to read dogs’ temperaments. Growling, barring teeth, tucking its tail, backing away, etc. are all signs to steer clear. If your child is too young to understand, it’s best to minimize their exposure to dogs or to help them identify the dangerous dogs and avoid those.
- Consider using a program to teach your young child about dog safety. For example, the American Humane Association’s KIDS (Kids Interacting with Dogs Safely) program is a program for kids ages four to seven, that’s free, educational, and engaging.
- Spay/neuter your dog and give it ample exercise, this reduces dogs’ aggression and hyperactivity.
- Teach your child never to antagonize a dog and to leave it alone if it’s sleeping or eating.
- Tell your child what to do if ever approached by an aggressive dog. Explain that your child shouldn’t run, but rather stand still like a tree, with her fists by her sides, looking down and not at the dog. If the dog pushes her down, she should cover her head and neck with her arms.
“When you're teaching children about dog bite prevention and how to be safe around dogs, keep it simple. Discuss animals, how we relate to them, and the role of animals in your family, not just how to avoid being bitten,” recommends the AVMA.
After a Dog Attack
After a dog attacks a child, you can direct your legal questions to child injury attorney Jason R. Schultz in Georgia. Call the office at 404-474-0804 to schedule a free consultation and obtain monies to pay for medical bills and pain and suffering.