As your child continues to grow and learn about the world around them, it is important to introduce them to the topic of dog safety. It is essential that children are taught how to safely interact with dogs as they may come into contact with them frequently in their everyday lives.
According to a study, researchers found that young children around ages one to five are more susceptible to dog bites. Whether you already have a dog in your household or your child is just beginning to interact with neighborhood dogs, it's crucial that you teach them how to stay safe around these animals. By showing your child how to approach dogs safely and act appropriately when in their presence, you'll help your child avoid any potential dog-related accidents.
Why Are Children Susceptible to Dog Bites?
Young children such as infants and toddlers have different behaviors and tendencies compared to adults. They are more curious, less cautious, and tend to explore their surroundings with their hands and mouths. This unpredictable behavior can sometimes lead to sudden acts of affection, such as kissing or hugging, or even aggressive behaviors like biting, grabbing, or climbing on dogs.
Unfortunately, these actions can scare dogs and trigger a negative response, leading to potential injury. Due to a child’s smaller stature, they are more likely to be injured around their facial area. A study on dog bites showed that the most common location for dog bite injuries on children was the head and face (62.1%). Therefore, it’s crucial to take the necessary precautions and teaching children about dog safety, you can create a safer environment for dogs and your little ones.
6 Dog Safety Tips for Children
1. Ask the Owner Before Petting
It's essential to teach our children good manners and respect for others, which includes dogs as well. Dogs, while lovable and friendly, are still animals and have boundaries just like humans. It's important to remind our children to always ask the owner's permission before petting a dog, even if the dog appears friendly.
This simple gesture can avoid any unwanted interactions that could potentially harm the child or the dog. The owner can help guide your child on where their dog likes to be petted, what makes them uncomfortable, and other important information that your child may not be aware of. This not only can help keep your child safe, but to also teach them to have respect for animals.
2. Teach Gentleness
Another tip to teach your children is how to be gentle with dogs. You can use a stuffed animal or even your own dog to teach your child how to pet dogs gently. Teach them how to “stroke” the animal slowly, gently rub their fur, scratch behind ears, etc.
Remember to also teach your child to avoid pulling at dogs’ fur, tails, or ears. Your child may be curious and continue to prod a dog and make them feel uncomfortable. By teaching your child how to be gentle with animals, you can help reduce the chance of injury.
3. Greet Dogs Slowly
Teaching your child how to greet dogs can be a valuable lesson to have safer interactions. It's not uncommon for children to get excited when meeting a dog, but this excitement can sometimes lead to abrupt movements and loud noises that can be scary for the dog.
By teaching your child to move slowly and calmly when approaching a dog, you can help prevent any unwanted reactions. With time, guidance, and patience, your child can learn to safely interact with dogs while respecting their boundaries.
4. Reading Dog Body Language
It’s important to teach children how to read dog body language. This can help them differentiate between if it is safe to continue trying to play with the dog or if they should give the dog some space.
Some dog behaviors to educate your children about can include:
- Flattened ears: This indicates that the dog may be feeling unsure or scared. It’s most likely best to leave the dog alone in this case.
- Tail between legs: This could be another sign of fear. A dog may lash out to defend themselves and it’s important to teach children to leave dogs alone if they notice this behavior.
- Barking/snapping: The dog may be acting aggressive out of fear. This is another behavior to teach children to back away from.
- Play bowing: When the rear end of a dog is up and the front end is down, this could indicate that they are open to play.
- Tail wagging: Tail wagging can have a lot of different meanings, but if the tail is wagging not too high or too low, this can indicate friendliness.
Understanding the cues and body language of dogs can prevent potential harm or injury that might occur. However, just because a child knows how to properly interact with a dog doesn't mean they are always safe. Be sure to always supervise your children while they interact or play with dogs.
5. Don’t Make Eye Contact
Teaching children to avoid making eye contact with dogs is crucial in ensuring their safety when around furry friends. As much as people love dogs, it's important to remember that they are animals with instincts that can sometimes lead to aggression. Especially when it comes to children, their shorter height can make it easier for them to inadvertently lock eyes with a dog. However, doing so may send a message to the dog that the child is challenging them, which can quickly escalate to a dangerous situation.
6. Don’t Run
It is important to teach children that running away from a dog is not the safest response. This action can actually trigger a "prey" mentality in the dog, which will cause it to chase after your child. This could lead to a dangerous situation, even if the dog was previously calm and relaxed.
Instead, if your child feels threatened by the dog, they should slowly and calmly move away from it. Avoiding sudden movements or sounds can also help to diffuse any potential aggressiveness.
Contact Our Dog Bite Attorney
Teaching your children how to interact with dogs is an essential life skill that can prevent many incidents of dog bites or attacks. However, even with the best preventative measures in place, accidents may happen. If your child is the victim of a dog bite or attack, you need to take immediate action.
Seeking the help of a trusted dog bite attorney at Bridges, Jillisky, Weller & Gullifer, LLC can provide the guidance and support you need during this difficult time. Our experienced team can help you navigate the complexities of dog bite laws and advocate for your child's rights to ensure they receive the compensation and justice they deserve.
Call today at (937) 403-9033 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help.