Home » Behavior » Dogs and Children: Dog Bite Prevention

Dogs and Children: Dog Bite Prevention


pexels-photo-117488-largeUnfortunately, children represent the largest demographic of people affected by serious dog bites annually.  A conservative estimate is that 400,000 children receive medical treatment in the US each year after a dog attack; however, many cases go unreported for fear of the dog’s welfare.  While no dog bite is ever inexcusable, the fact of the matter is that many attacks can be prevented.

Why Are Children Affected More Often Than Adults?
Children represent chaotic unpredictability to pets, which can be extremely nerve wracking – especially to an anxious dog.  Dogs have certain drives that are evolutionarily ingrained, such as chasing smaller animals or becoming agitated in the presence of loud shrieks.  In addition, children are less likely to be aware of personal space, and can threaten an animal by inadvertently crowding a dog’s face or food bowl.

Rules for Children

Never approach a dog during mealtime.  This rule holds true when a dog is chewing on a favorite toy, as well.  Dogs instinctively want to guard their resources, particularly from another person or animal deemed unpredictable.  The majority of dog bites occur when this rule is not observed.

Let sleeping dogs lie.  Although your child may be disappointed that his or her favorite playmate is asleep, never allow a child to wake up a sleeping dog.  When dogs dream, they often visualize scenarios that occur in everyday life, such as chasing a squirrel, going for a walk, or guarding the family from the mailman.  Dogs are unable to distinguish dreaming and reality as quickly as humans, and when startled awake they may lash out.

When the dog is finished playing, leave it be.  Nothing is more pure than a child playing with a dog.  However, when the dog is finished with the game, it is very important the child accept that play time is over.

Respect a dog’s personal space.  A child should never sit, jump, or lie on a dog.  Not only can this seriously injure the animal, but your pet may perceive these actions as a sign of dominance.  In addition, a child should never pull on a dog’s ears or tail.

Let photo opportunities happen naturally.  Oftentimes, a dog and child will do something cute together, but the moment passes before a photo can be taken.  Although it is tempting to try and recreate the scene, avoid doing so.  Forcing a dog to behave in a certain manner can be stressful for the animal, causing an increased risk of biting.

Never approach an unfamiliar dog.  A difficult concept for children to grasp is that not all dogs behave similarly.  For instance, just because the child’s dog tolerates hugs does not mean the same holds true for all canines.  Children should be taught to always ask permission before approaching a dog, and to only pet the backs of unfamiliar animals.

If a dog aggressively approaches, be a tree.  If a dog approaches and the intent of the animal is unknown, the safest thing for a child to do is to stand stiffly with arms at his or her side.  Never instruct a child to run away or act tall, as both behaviors will increase the chance of a dog bite.


Related Posts

Anna Weber

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.