Dog bite prevention tips for parents

Did you know that every year, 850,000 dog bite victims require medical attention, of which, 400,000 are children?

Dogs are called “man’s best friend”, and with good cause. They are loving friends who provide families with happiness and pleasure. 

However, even the most affectionate dog may snap or bite when provoked. Young children are particularly at risk of dog bites, with those aged between five and nine most at risk.

Why do some dogs bite children?

Most dog bites are caused by a dog that the victim knows, such as a friend, neighbour, or even their own family pet. Parents and caregivers must discuss how children should behave around dogs to prevent bites. 

Here are some tips:

  • Children should not approach, touch, or play with a dog while it is sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy or bone, or caring for its puppies. Animals are more inclined to bite when surprised, frightened, or caring for their young.
  • Children should never approach a dog that is barking, growling, or snarling.
  • Children should not pet unfamiliar pets without the owner’s permission. If the owner gives permission, the child should allow the dog to smell their closed hand first. Then they should pat the dog’s shoulder or chest, avoiding the dog’s head.
  • Children should not attempt to pet dogs behind a fence or inside a vehicle. Dogs seek to defend their territory and could bite.
  • If a child encounters a dog off-leash, they should immediately notify an adult and avoid approaching the animal.
  • If a dog is loose and approaches a child, the child should not flee or scream. Instead, people should avoid looking the dog in the eyes and remain still until the animal retreats. Once the dog has lost interest, the youngster can back away gradually.
  • If a child falls or is pushed to the ground by a dog, they should roll into a ball with their knees tucked into their stomach and their fingers interlaced behind their neck. If a child remains motionless and silent, the dog will likely sniff them and then go.
  • Children must never attempt to outrun a dog. If a dog attacks a child, the child should offer the dog their jacket, bag, bike, or anything else that the dog may seize or that can serve as a barrier between them.

The above has been adapted from Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty

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