According to the American Veterinary Medical Association more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites every year. Of these individuals, children are by far the most common victim and often are the most likely to be severely injured.
Most dog bites occur when interacting with familiar dogs, either a family pet, or a pet at a friend, neighbor or relatives home. These incidents occur most frequently during the summer season when families tend to spend more time outside with pets. So how can you protect yourself and your children from dog bites this summer?
Here are some simple tips for preventing dog bites:
- Avoid Unknown Dogs. When spending time outside with your family, avoid interactions with dogs you don’t know, especially if the animal is wandering around loose and unsupervised. In these instances it is advised to leave the area and consider alerting animal control.
- Ask for Permission. When you see an owner with their dog, make sure to ask the owner for permission to pet their dog. Avoid ever petting a dog without asking for permission, even if it’s a familiar or friendly dog.
- Handle Confrontation Effectively. Teach your children in advance how to handle aggressive dogs. Children should be advised to confidently and quietly walk away. If a dog goes after them, instruct them to stand still and then take a defensive position. It may also be helpful to tell children to “be a tree” and stand quietly with their hands low and clasped in front of them while they look down at their feet. If they are knocked down, instruct them to protect their head and neck with their arms and curl into a ball.
- Avoid Invading Dogs Space. Teach children that if a dog goes to bed or to his/her crate, they should not bother them. Enforce the idea that the bed or crate is the dog’s space to be left alone. Make sure to also tell children to leave the dog alone when he or she is asleep or eating.
- Teach Safe Play Behaviors. Teach children that the dog has to want to play with them and when the dog leaves, they should not follow him. In addition, educate children to avoid dangerous play behaviors such as pulling on a dog’s ears or tail or trying to climb on them.
- Avoid Teasing Dogs. When children are spending time with dogs, it is important to teach them to never tease dogs by taking their toys, food or treats, or by pretending to hit or kick.
- Supervise Younger Children. If your family owns a pet, it is important to always supervise and check on pet care responsibilities given to children and make sure children are practicing safe pet care behaviors.
While it’s unlikely that you will be able to eliminate all interactions that you and your family have with dogs, there are simple steps you can take to teach your children about how to be safe around animals. If you or someone in your family has been bitten by a dog, please call Janesville personal injury lawyer Steve Caya to learn about your legal rights for dog bites.