Dog bites are known to cause some of the most serious injuries in the nation. They can be physically damaging and emotional scarring.
Children can be the most susceptible victims of dog bites because they don't know how to read the signs that a dog is aggressive and prone to attack. There are many actions you can pursue in the case of a dog bite, but the best course of action is to prevent it altogether.
Here are several ways you can help prevent dogs from biting your child. Teach them some of the following rules about owners and their pets.
10 ways to avoid dog bites
If the owner of the dog is present, always teach your child to ask the owner if he or she can pet the dog.
A dog's owners will know the past behaviors and tendencies of the dogs and whether or not the dog is safe to pet. Never approach a dog without first acknowledging its owner and seeking permission to interact with the pet.
2) Learn to read the signs.
Usually, a dog's first inclination isn't to bite, but to protect itself. Biting just happens to follow close behind. If an animal feels threatened, it will defend itself, and with dogs, this usually involves biting.
Teach your kid to read signs that a dog might be about to bite. Before a dog acts out with aggression, it will usually do one or more of several things:
- back away
- show its teeth
- make eye contact
- tense its muscles
If a dog shows any of these signs, your child should remain calm, and step away from the dog slowly.
3) Remain calm
The best way to act around a dog is to remain calm. Tell your child to "act like a tree or log" when approached by an unfamiliar dog. This means staying still, remaining motionless, being quiet, and avoiding eye contact. Don't do anything to provoke or frighten the animal.
Should your child be victim to an attack, he or she should drop to the ground and roll into a ball to protect his or her face and neck. This will minimize injuries.
4) Never approach an unfamiliar dog
If you see a strange dog in your neighborhood, don't let your child near it. Only approach dogs if you are familiar with its history of aggression.
5) Don't tease
Children should be taught that dogs are not toys to play with. Don't allow your kid to play with a dog's tail and ears or pull on its fur roughly. This will annoy the pet and quite possibly result in a dog bite.
6) Don't bother dogs while they are eating, playing with toys, or protecting their children
Dogs are territorial by nature, which means that they will become aggressive if they feel you are trying to take away their toys, food, and puppies. Teach your kid to leave a dog alone if it is eating. Never try to take away a dog's toys if it shows signs of aggression.
7) Remember that size doesn't matter
All breeds of dogs bite--whether the attacker is a harmless-looking chihuahua or monster-sized pit bull. It doesn't matter what breed the dog is. If it has teeth, it can bite. (If it doesn't have teeth...it can probably still bite.) Make sure your child approaches all breeds and sizes of dogs with the same wariness. Remain calm, ask the owner if it is safe, and watch out for signs of aggression.
8) No touch, no talk, no eye contact
When interacting with an unfamiliar dog, tell your child the mantra, "no touch, no talk, no eye contact" at least until the dog shows that it is friendly. Let the dog approach you, and don't react until you know for a certainty that the dog shows no sign of aggression.
9) Never play with a dog without adult permission or supervision
Never leave infants and young children alone with a dog. The same goes especially if the dog is eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies.
10) Do not run
When a dog chases you, the last thing you should do is run. This will excite the dog, and set off its instincts to attack. Teach your child to remain calm and still. Back away slowly, and call for help.
In the case your child is bitten, get medical attention
Even if the wound is a small one, take your child to a doctor to prevent infection or spread of diseases. If your child was wrongfully bitten and the injury was the result of negligence, contact legal counsel. A lawyer could help you get justice for your child if the bite was preventable. Don't let your child suffer in vain.