You’ve heard all kinds of stories about dogs and children. Some of them were inspiring, stories woven together about best friends that do everything together. Others have been scary snippets about dog attacks on innocent children. What you want to know however is if your child will be safe around your dog, the neighbor’s dog, or any dog they happen to come across. It’s safe to say that when you put two beings that have their own personalities together nothing is guaranteed. That being said, let’s look at a few things and how your child and dogs can live together peacefully.
First things first, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.5 million dog bites occur each year just within the United States. The CDC also stated that those most at risk to receive a dog bite are children and men. Children aged 5 to 9 have the highest rate of dog-bite related injuries.
Those numbers can look frightening to anyone with children, but if you have your hopes set on having your children and dogs play together, not all is lost.
Dogs and children can live together with proper lessons and attention.
Remember, children are not as practiced at reading signals from dogs as adults. Never leave your children alone with a dog. Children don’t always understand dog behavior, so teach your children the warning signs dogs give when they are unhappy or getting ready to attack. Let your child know that some of the warning signs that a dog gives when it’s unhappy include baring its teeth, lowering its head or tail, attempts at hiding, or holding its body straight or rigid.
Maintaining proper respect for the dog is also imperative to avoiding bites. Teach your children to never approach a strange dog and always ask permission from a dog’s owner before trying to pet the dog. When they are introduced to a new dog, be sure they know to let the dog sniff them before reaching out and the proper way to pet and treat a dog. Knowing how to treat a dog properly will lessen the chance of a bite.
Another safety rule for children when interacting with dogs is to prevent your child from interrupting a dog when the dog is enjoying its own space. Prevent your child from interrupting a dog when it’s sleeping, eating, chewing a bone, playing aggressively with a toy, or when the dog is a mother with her puppies. During these times dogs can become more aggressive than usual so it’s a good idea to keep small hands away at these times.
If you are a dog owner, you’ll also need to spend some time teaching your dog how to interact with children, especially if it hasn’t been around them from the beginning. Teaching your dog some basic obedience skills will help prevent any bites as well. Spend time teaching your dog to drop and leave any item it has, to sit, lie down and stay, to come when called, and to greet people and children gently. These skills, if taught properly can help to prevent a dog from biting a child.
With certain precautions and extra care, children and dogs can live peacefully together. It’s important however to be aware of the risks and if a bite does occur be sure to know what steps to take to help your child. In your own home you’ll have more of a handle on any situation but if your child meets another dog it won’t always be possible to stop a bite. In those times, be sure to hire a lawyer who can give you and your child the help you need.
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