Teaching children how to negotiate everyday life safely is a momentous task for all parents. They must balance encouraging curiosity and protecting children from dangers they do not understand or fully appreciate. For example, we protect little hands from things that are too hot or have dangerous moving parts. As kids get older, we start to worry about them riding bicycles, playing on skateboards, and crossing streets.
But one danger that parents may overlook is how children interact with dogs. After all, many families have loving pets who children interact with daily. Unfortunately, children may later encounter dogs that are not so nice, and present serious danger. This article will address why it is important to teach children how to be safe around dogs and provide some helpful tips.
How dangerous are dogs?
While statistics on dog bites can vary by publication, the numbers are sobering to most people. DogBite.org reports that 1000 Americans need emergency treatment for dog bites every day. According to topdogtips, there are about 4.5 million dog bites every year, and 800,000 of those bites lead to the need for medical care.
Particularly germane to the concern for kids addressed in this blog topic, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) concludes that children are the most at risk, and are the victims of at least one-half of all dog bites. Thus, protecting children from dog attacks is imperative.
Tips for safety with dogs
Do your research before choosing a family pet.
There are many publications available that discuss various breeds of dogs and their tendencies. While it is not our intention to criticize dog owners or the breeds they choose, there are some dogs that are considered more dangerous than others. For example, pit bulls were responsible for 65 percent of dog-related human deaths between 2005 and 2020. If you add in Rottweilers, the two breeds accounted for 76 percent of deaths.
Watch for signs that a dog does not want to be approached.
Teach children never to approach a dog that is eating. Similarly, it can be dangerous to interact with a dog that has (and feels the need to protect) puppies. Children need to be taught that an unfamiliar dog may protect not only food and puppies, but also its toys, and respond aggressively if approached. Do not bother a dog who looks scared, sick, nervous, or angry.
If a child does approach an unfamiliar dog, KinderCare offers tips, some of which include:
- Ask the pet owner for permission to pet the dog. The owner should know how the dog reacts to children and how to keep the dog calm.
- Once approval is given, move slowly toward the dog and let it smell your hand.
- Help children learn to read a dog’s body language. If the dog seems uncomfortable, teach kids that dogs sometimes need to be left alone.
- Don’t approach an unfamiliar dog who has food or toys.
- Only give a dog treats from a flat palm to avoid the possibility of bitten fingers.
- Don’t startle the dog with behaviors such as screaming and running away.
What are your rights if another person’s dog bites a child?
Dog bites can cause serious injuries requiring medical treatment, hospitalization, or even surgery. Many wounds become infected. If a dog bite injures you or your child due to a dog owner’s negligence, you may be able to seek damages just as in any other type of personal injury lawsuit.
Call with questions
If you’re in need of experienced representation in relation to a dog bite, we can help you investigate your claim, deal with insurance companies, and navigate the legal landscape. We fight hard for our clients because we believe the only way to keep society safe is by holding negligent actors accountable for their actions.