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According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 4 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs every year. The majority are children, who are at least three times more likely than adults to sustain a serious dog bite. Did you know that two-thirds of dog bites on children are caused by the family dog?
- Lack of knowledge on handling dog aggression is common. Dog owners must understand canine aggression and training. Interactive scenarios and creative activities help children retain knowledge and respond effectively.
- Promote dog bite prevention. Emphasize roles, respect, and supervision. Awareness of risky situations reduces bites.
- Teach children to identify the signs of aggression, stay calm, and respond appropriately. This mainly entails diffusing the situation, hiding, and seeking help.
Ensuring children are equipped to handle threatening dog situations is crucial. Mere exposure to dogs doesn’t guarantee knowledge of how to react to aggression, which surprisingly extends to many adults. Keeping children safe from dog bites demands that we dog owners intimately understand canine aggression and how to train an aggressive dog. Teaching kids how to be safe around dogs requires you to commit a good amount of time and effort. Engaging them in interactive scenarios is key for impactful learning. It is also crucial to closely monitor the interactions between children and dogs, and if supervision is not possible, separate them. I always keep children under my care away from dogs in certain situations like when dogs are sleeping, eating, tied up, sick, or with puppies. Adults also have to advise children on common-sense practices when dealing with an unfamiliar dog, such as always seeking the owner’s permission before attempting to pet it, and de-escalating any potential aggression between themselves and a dog.
I vividly remember the time when my nephew had a close encounter with an aggressive dog. It was a terrifying moment, but thanks to his prior knowledge and practice, he remained calm and knew exactly what to do. When educating children about dog bite prevention and safety, simplicity is essential. It’s crucial to discuss not only avoiding bites but also the role of animals in our lives and how we relate to them. Growing up, my parents emphasized the importance of treating animals with kindness and respect. This mindset helped me build a strong bond with dogs and other animals, fostering a sense of empathy and understanding. Close supervision is paramount for younger children during interactions with dogs to foster gentleness and respect from the start.
Children Should Avoid…
- A dog that appears sick or hurt: Approaching an unfamiliar dog who appears hurt might trigger fear and defensive behavior, potentially resulting in a dog bite. It’s crucial to respect their boundaries and give them space.
- A mother dog with puppies: Mother dogs, being protective of their offspring, may perceive unfamiliar individuals as threats and might resort to dog bites. Getting too close to her puppies can lead to defensive actions. It’s important to maintain a safe distance in such situations.
- Fighting dogs: Dogs engaged in fights are highly agitated and pose a significant risk of dog bites. It’s crucial for children to stay away from fighting dogs to avoid potential harm, let alone tease dogs who are exhibiting signs of aggression. If their own dog is involved in a fight and they are concerned, it’s best to seek assistance from an adult rather than intervening personally.
- A lost dog: Not all dog owners are clever enough to use the best wireless dog fence to keep their dogs safely within their property. Lost dogs are often scared and disoriented, making them unpredictable. Approaching a lost dog may trigger defensive behavior, including dog bites. It’s advisable to inform an adult about the situation to ensure appropriate assistance. To prevent losing your own dog, consider using a reliable wireless dog fence.
Don’t Pet A Dog That Is…
It is crucial to educate children about dog behavior and bite prevention to ensure their safety. To help you better understand which dogs to avoid petting, consider the following situations:
- Playing with a toy – When a dog is engrossed in playing with a toy, approaching them may give the impression that you want to take it away, which can result in a defensive response and potential dog bites.
- Sitting in a car – Some dogs exhibit a strong protective instinct towards their vehicles, considering them as their territory. Approaching a dog sitting in a car may provoke territorial behavior, increasing the likelihood of dog bites.
- Sitting on the other side of a fence – It’s common knowledge that a dog bites when its territory is threatened. However, kids might not be aware of this knowledge yet, so carefully explain to them that approaching the dog from the other side of the fence may trigger defensive reactions, including dog bites, as a means of telling you to stay away.
- Eating – Dogs can be protective of their food, and attempting to interfere while they are eating can provoke defensive behavior and potential dog bites. Respecting a dog’s space during mealtime is crucial to prevent any negative reactions.
- Sleeping – Startling a sleeping dog can lead to fear or surprise, potentially resulting in defensive responses. It is best to avoid patting a dog when it is asleep to prevent unintentional provocation and potential dog bites.
- …And never pet a dog without the owner’s permission. Teach kids not to provoke or tease dogs as well.
What Does An Angry Or Scared Dog Look Like?
Based on the aforementioned examples of dogs that children should not pet, it becomes evident that dogs exhibiting anger or fear are more prone to dog bites. It is crucial to teach children how to recognize signs of an angry or scared dog to avoid potential harm. Consider engaging dog owners in drawing pictures that illustrate the appearance of an angry or frightened dog, further enhancing your child’s understanding of these behavioral cues.
An angry dog will:
- Try to look big by standing tall and straight
- Perk their ears up straight
- Raise the fur on his back
- Wag his tail. That’s right, not all wagging tails mean the dog is happy. If the dog holds his tail up high and stiff, and only the top part is wagging, this can mean the dog is about to fight.
- Growl or bark and show their teeth
- Stare straight into your eyes
A scared dog will:
- Shrink low to the ground
- Put his ears back against their head
- Put his tail between her legs
What NOT To Do During A Dog Attack
When facing an aggressive dog, it’s natural to feel threatened and instinctively react by yelling, screaming, flailing arms, or running. However, these responses are counterproductive and can exacerbate the situation. Yelling and screaming only escalate the dog’s agitation, while flailing arms may be perceived as a threat or an invitation to bite. Running away can trigger the dog’s chase instinct.
It’s crucial to educate children on the correct response to a dog attack, emphasizing what they should and should not do to effectively handle such situations.
What to Do If a Dog Threatens You
If a dog exhibits anger, fear, or aggressive behavior towards you, or if it is jumping on you and trying to bite you, it’s important to know how to respond. Even if you are familiar with the dog but feel unsure or uneasy, follow these guidelines:
Dog Bite Prevention Tips
- Make Yourself Look Like a Tree Trunk – When the dog approaches you, stop moving and stand completely still. Keep your hands tucked under your chin and your arms close to your body, positioned in front of your chest. By resembling a tree trunk, you eliminate any potential targets for the dog to bite.
I remember a time when a neighbor’s dog became aggressive towards me, and I instinctively followed this technique, remaining as still as possible. It allowed the dog to lose interest and eventually walk away.
Maintain a still and quiet demeanor, resembling a tree, until the dog retreats. Then, slowly start to move away without turning and running, as sudden movements may trigger the dog to chase. Walk backwards calmly, keeping an eye on the dog. If it begins to follow, assume the tree posture again.
- Make Yourself Look Like a Rock – If you are on the ground when the dog is near you, or he pushes you over, then roll up into a ball like a big rock. Put your face down near the ground and cover your head and face with your arms and fists. Stay still and quiet like a rock and wait for the dog to leave. Then get up and move away slowly – don’t run.
What to Do If Your Dog Bites Your Child
Dog bites can introduce bacteria into the wound, so it is crucial to ensure proper cleaning and treatment. In some cases, scar revision may be necessary. If your child is bitten by a dog, seek medical attention promptly. Oral antibiotics may be prescribed, especially for more severe bites. If the bite is minor and not bleeding, you can clean the wound with antibiotic ointment and apply a bandage.
For more serious bites or instances of bleeding, take your child to a children’s hospital and consult a doctor immediately, particularly if the dog is not yours. Many years ago, my cousin’s child was unfortunately bitten by a neighbor’s dog, and it required immediate medical attention due to the severity of the bite. Some dog bites may require treatment in a hospital emergency department.
Although some dog bites may appear small on the surface, they can cause significant damage to muscles, bones, and nerves. Pet owners should consider following up with a plastic surgeon to discuss wound healing and scar revision for unrepaired injuries.
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