Avoiding dog bites is not something that people are good at judging by the statistics: more than 4.5 million dog bites occur in the US each year. 20% of the people bitten suffered injuries that needed hospital treatment. And between 2010 and 2012, over 350,000 children between the ages of 1 and 14 suffered dog bites. Children aged between 5 and 9 accounted for 37% of these bites (Source: American Veterinary Medical Association). Figures like these show how important it is to teach your children how to avoid dog bites. It’s important to note, that all dogs can bite and cause injury, regardless of the breed.
How to avoid dog bites
Here’s our top ten tips on how to avoid dog bites:
Tip 1 – Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog
Not only is it irresponsible to leave a baby or small child alone with a dog, it’s dangerous too. So no matter how gentle you think your dog is or for whatever reason you’re tempted, don’t ever do it.
Tip 2 – Teach your children not to approach strange dogs
When you approach a dog owner with their dog, take care. If you don’t know the owner and/or their dog you shouldn’t allow your children to get too close to the dog. Only let your children be around dogs that you’re sure are well behaved with children. And of course you should also be sure the dog doesn’t have any fear or aggression issues. If in doubt, keep your children away.
Tip 3 – Teach your children never to hug a dog around the neck
Dogs don’t like anyone grabbing them around the neck. This is one of the major causes of dogs biting children, in particular small children, in the face and neck. The best way for your child to greet a dog is for them to stand still and let the dog sniff them. And when the dog starts sniffing, your child shouldn’t pet them on the head. Instead they should pet them under their chin.
Tip 4 – Teach your children never to run away from or chase a dog
If your child runs away from a dog it can trigger the dog’s chase and prey instincts. This can result in the dog chasing and biting your child. So teach them not to run away from dogs. You should also teach your children not to chase dogs too. A dog that is on the run may turn round and start chasing the child instead. The dog may then become aggressive.
Tip 5 – Teach your children never to bother a resting or unaware dog
Children should never bother a dog that’s sleeping or resting. The same is true of a dog that’s not paying attention too, for example if the dog’s eating. If your child surprises a dog, they may react with aggression.
Tip 6 – Teach your children to stand still when they meet a strange dog
When your child comes across a strange dog, they should just stand still. They should also avoid staring into the dog’s eyes. The majority of dogs will sniff, bark, growl and investigate and then leave. By standing still your child lessens the perceived threat the dog may be feeling. This increases the chances of the dog leaving them alone.
Tip 7 – Teach your children how to react if attacked by a dog
Your child should know what to do if a dog attacks them. Teach them to curl up into a ball and cover the back of their head and neck with their hands. They should then keep as still as possible. Once again, the majority of dogs will bite and leave. Fighting with a dog or running from a dog will increase it’s aggression. The end result will be a longer, more sustained attack.
Tip 8 – Never tease a dog
Teasing a dog is likely to get a child bitten. It’s never acceptable behavior towards dogs. Teach your children to respect dogs for the beautiful animals they are.
Tip 9 – Squealing and running about triggers a dog’s prey instinct
Jerky movements, high pitched laughs and screams attract dogs. And children of course show these behaviors at times. It’s important they don’t when they’re near a dog though. So teach your child to behave in a calm manner when around dogs.
Tip 10 – Be alert and aware of your surroundings
This applies to both you and your children. You should always be alert and aware of your surroundings. And you should teach your kids to do the same thing too. Keeping your eyes open helps avoid any potential dog bite situations before they happen.
Dog bites are no laughing matter. You should make sure your children know what to do when confronted with a strange dog. And this also applies to a familiar dog that shows aggression towards them. Teaching them how to avoid dog bites is something you should do from an early age. And as a dog owner, you should also be training your dog not to bite from an early age too.