Dogs are cuddly creatures, protectors of the home and constant companions for many in New Hampshire and Vermont. However, even the friendliest dog can lash out and bite. Children are especially susceptible to dog bites and are more likely to suffer severe injuries if bit by a dog. Dog bites do not always occur between strays and children. Many times, a child is bit by a dog that they know during everyday life — even if the dog is their pet. The following are some tips parents can take to teach their children how to behave safely around dogs.
Keeping kids safe around dogs
It is important for parents to teach their children how to be safe around dogs. Children should not come near or touch a dog while it is asleep, eating or playing with a toy. This could startle the dog. If a dog is caring for their young, children should also be kept away from the dog. A dog caring for puppies may be nervous or protective, making it more apt to bite.
If a dog is barking, growling or otherwise demonstrating that it is scared, children should not approach that dog. It may bite out of fear or aggression.
If a child wants to pet a dog the child does not know, the child must ask for permission from the dog’s owner first. If it the dog’s owner says it is ok to pet the dog, the child should first merely let the dog sniff their hand. If the dog remains friendly, the child can pet the dog’s shoulders or chest. The child should avoid petting the dog’s head where it may feel more vulnerable.
If a dog is in a car or a fenced-in area, children should not try to pet the dog. It may feel like it is protecting its home and will bite a child who comes to near it.
If a dog is off-leash or otherwise running loose, the child should not go near the dog and should tell an adult.
What to do if a dog attacks
If the dog charges or otherwise approaches the child, the child should stay calm, avoid eye contact with the dog and stand still until the dog leaves. Once the dog starts to leave, the child should retreat slowly. If the dog does attack, the child should curl up in a ball with their hand behind their neck. The child should stay still and quiet as possible. Children should never outrun a dog who is attacking them or throw objects at an attacking dog.
Teach your child about dog bite safety
Remember, any dog can bite — big or small, known or unknown, friendly or aggressive. Parents need to teach their children about how to approach dogs safely and dog owners need to act to ensure their dog will not bite. If a child is bitten by a dog and sustains serious injuries as a result, the parents may want to learn more about pursuing a lawsuit against the owner of the dog for the damages suffered.