Hearing cases of children that are victims of dog attacks is heartbreaking. Even more so as many cases of children being attacked or bitten by a dog are preventable. There are steps parents and dog owners can take to keep children safe from dog attacks.
The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that “Children are the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured“. Young children are particularly vulnerable. The dog is often familiar to the child either as a family pet or belonging to a relative or friend of the family.
Parents and dog owners both play a role in keeping children safe from dog attacks. Parents can teach children how to behave around an animal. Dog owners should be aware of their responsibilities of dog ownership and take steps to train their dog. Reduce the risk with these steps.
Dogs are animals and should be socialized to be in a household with children and to behave with a certain tolerance to children. Pet owners should start to socialize their dogs early to learn how to behave around all different kinds of people.
Spay or neuter your dog. “Spaying and neutering your dog tends to reduce aggressive tendencies significantly. Unneutered male dogs were involved in 70-76% of reported dog bite incidents.
Report stray dogs or dogs that have become loose in the neighborhood. Dogs without an owner can be unpredictable and you should take steps to remove them so that no harm comes to anyone.
Never leave a child alone with a dog. Keep dogs out of infants’ or childrens’ rooms unless they are being supervised. If you notice the dog starting to display signs of aggression such as growling, lip-licking, or yawning, separate the kids and dogs immediately.
Approach the dog with caution and allow the dog to become familiar with him/her (if the dog owner approves). Once the animal is comfortable, the child can pet the dog or play with the dog. Children must understand that the dog has to want to play with them to avoid upsetting the dog and potentially an attack.
Create a safe space for the family dog such as a crate or dog bed. Teach children to leave the dog alone if the dog retreats to this space. The space should be in a family area, such as a living room or kitchen, so the dog doesn’t feel isolated. If using a crate, cover the crate with a blanket.
Learn about signs of aggression in a dog’s body language, and teach your child as it isn’t often instinctive. You may know that a growling dog may be an unhappy dog, but your children may not know that yet. Teach children what to do if there is an aggressive dog, including avoiding eye contact and remaining still.
Both parents and dog owners play a role in keeping children safe around dogs and preventing dog bites. If the unthinkable happens and your child has been bitten by a dog, contact dog bite attorney, David J Cowhey to discuss your case.