Important Measures to Take to Prevent your Child from being Bitten by a Dog
Dog bites can easily happen to anyone, no matter how old they are. Dogs don’t specifically single out any one particular type of person to bite, but statistically speaking, children are at the highest risk of being bitten by a dog. Over 800,000 people seek medical attention for dog bites every year and it’s estimated that nearly half of them are children. Children are also more likely to be severely injured from a dog bite. Between 2010 and 2012, 66% of dog bite injuries to children age 4 and under were to the head and neck.
When people think about dog bites, they often imagine the dog involved being a random dog roaming around the neighborhood. However, statistics show this actually isn’t the case. The vast majority of dog bites involve family pets or other familiar dogs and happen in the course of doing normal, everyday activities.
Dogs can be very exciting to young children. But given that children are so young, they often haven’t had a chance to learn how to approach and interact with dogs safely. They might get a little overeager to pet a dog that is anxious or sick, accidentally scare a dog by yelling, or by playing a little too roughly with one. A dog bite can result in painful injuries, but even if the bite isn’t serious enough to require medical attention, being bitten by a dog can be extremely traumatic and can result in a lifelong fear of dogs. A little bit of education can go a long way to prevent this. Here are a few steps you can take to protect your child from becoming a dog bite victim.
Keep it Calm
Anyone who has ever spent time with young kids knows that they’re not always the best at keeping their voices down. It’s totally normal for kids to be loud or act in unpredictable ways. However, loud noises and sudden movements might scare or agitate a dog or be seen as a sign of aggression. Teach your child to keep their voice down when around dogs and be sure to teach them how to properly approach a dog.
How to Approach a Dog
It’s very important to approach dogs the safe way, especially if you’re being approached by a strange dog or meeting a dog for the first time. First and foremost, teach your child to always ask a dog’s owner for permission before approaching a dog. If approached by a strange dog and there’s nobody to ask for permission from, stand very still and let the dog sniff you without making eye contact until the dog leaves. If it’s okay to pet the dog, tell your child let the dog sniff their hand first (this is how dogs learn to identify others) and to only pet the dog on its neck, back, or chest, not its head. Some dogs can interpret a pat on the head as a sign of dominance or aggression and may react accordingly.
Let it Be
Even if you’re familiar with a dog, there are certain circumstances when it’s simply best to leave it alone. Some situations or activities can make even a normally happy and friendly dog uneasy or more territorial than usual. If a dog is eating, sleeping, sick / injured, or taking care of its puppies, it’s best to use extreme caution when approaching them. If you’re with your child and you’re around a dog who is in one of these situations, do not leave your child around the dog unsupervised and explain why it’s important for them to keep their distance.
When to Approach a Dog
Even if you encounter a dog that isn’t in one of the previously mentioned situations, there are times when it simply might not be a good time to approach it. A dog might be showing signs that indicate it’s feeling stressed out or uneasy about something and would rather be left alone. Just like humans, dogs very commonly communicate how they’re feeling through body language, so it’s important to know the signs to watch for. Stop The 77 has an excellent video that demonstrates the body language differences between happy dogs and not-so-happy dogs.
Although these steps will help you prevent dog bites, it’s important to remember that dog owners are still legally responsible for the actions of their dogs. If you encounter a dog bite, call an attorney to get answers to any questions you have about Michigan dog bite law.