How to Keep your Children Safe from Dog Bites

child bitten by dog, dog bite attorney orange county, john p burnsAccording to a recent report by the CDC, children account for approximately 70% of all dog bite victims in the United States.  This is an alarming statistic, and should be of particular concern to parents of young children.  By the age of 12, 40% of children will have had a negative experience with a dog.

Children are prone to dog bite injuries for several reasons.  They are often unable to read a dogs behavior, and they usually have a higher energy level than adults, which can excite the dog.  They are smaller, and closer to where dogs can reach their head and neck, and they also haven’t been taught how to interact with dogs properly.

In order to keep them as safe as possible, it’s important to educate your children on dogs and how to interact with them.  Here are some steps to take to prevent your child being a victim of a dog bite accident.

  • Teach your children to always ask permission before approaching and touching someone else’s dog.  This is especially important if it is a stranger’s dog.  Some dogs are not friendly with all people, and especially with children.  Even if it is a familiar dog, be sure to ask permission.  You may not know if the dog is not feeling well that day, which can increase the chance of a dog bite injury.
  • Teach your children how to interact properly with a dog.  If you child is running and screaming while approaching a dog, it might interpret that as being threatened and try to protect itself.  Instead, allow the dog to approach your child and sniff him or her before doing anything.  If the dog backs off or doesn’t want to engage, let it.  Don’t ever force the dog to engage with any person.  Only if the dog seems calm and willing to engage should you allow your child to hold out his or her hand to let the dog smell it before petting the dog. If at any point the dog seems agitated or wants to walk away, allow it.  Most dogs will try to disengage if they are in a situation they don’t like.  If you force the dog to interact with the child, that can make the dog feel trapped and the only way out is to attack the thing that is trapping it – in this case, your child.
  • Teach your children to never tease or be rough with a dog.  Dogs are not rational animals and they make decisions on instinct.  Although we would love to believe that our dogs know that a child is just playing, they perceive teasing and rough play as a threat or danger.  If the dog feels trapped or like it’s being attacked, it will lash out to get away.  Additionally, a dog could read a young child’s enthusiasm as it would a puppy’s.  A dogs instinct with a puppy is to teach it how to behave and if it’s getting out of control, the dog will put the puppy in it’s place through force.  That puppy could be your child.
  • Teach your children what to do if they encounter an aggressive dog.  If a child ends up in a situation where they feel uncomfortable by a dog, whether the dog is being aggressive or not, they need to act in a way that won’t make the situation worse.  They should never scream or run away as that will make them seem like prey to the dog.  If they are uncomfortable, they should tell an adult immediately.  If they encounter a dog they are uncomfortable with while they are alone, they should calmly walk away from the dog, while still being aware of where the dog is and what it is doing.  They should find an adult immediately and let them know what happened.

While teaching your child these things can help reduce the chances of a dog bite injury, nothing will be able to eliminate the possibility of a dog bite.  If a dog has bitten you or your child, it’s important to report it immediately.  It’s also important to contact a qualified dog bite attorney to understand how you can be properly compensated for the injuries.  While most dog bites are from a dog the victim is familiar with, you shouldn’t be nervous about wanting to get compensation from the dog’s owner.  I have helped many people who were able to get compensation for their injuries from the homeowners insurance of the owner of the dog.

Please contact us if you, or your child, have been a victim of a dog bite incident at 949-496-7000.  The first call is always free and we will be able to answer your questions and determine if you have a case and if you need an attorney.

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