Each Summer means that more children will be playing in backyards and outside their homes around the neighborhood; especially in Southern California. It also means greater interaction between dogs and little children; and kids and dogs go together like "peas and carrots." However kids, especially the young ones, are not always prepared for interacting with these unpredictable, yet loving animals. That is why it is the right time to draw attention to dog bite safety among children and charge the adults with information to help educate the children. The fact is, children are by far the most frequent victims of dog bites in the United States. According to the studies completed at the prestigious Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, across the United States, there are approximately 1.4 million dog bites every year; and, approximately 2/3 of these involve little children below the age of 10.
Most of the dog bite attacks, surprisingly enough, involve dogs that are familar to the child, or the dog is known in the community or neighborhood. It may even be a pet in their own home, a neighbor’s dog or a dog at a friend’s house right down the street. Most dog bites in fact, originate from rough play between children and dogs. Dogs get excited around children, and sometimes too, children likewise horse play with the friendly dog. However, I believe it is very important to teach your children the right way to behave around dogs, especially new ones. Remember, dogs are animals and they react more on instinct that rational thought. Children need to understand this difference and respect it as part of nature.
The following 9 Dog Bite Prevention Rules should be be taught to your children as soon as possible, so that they can remain safe while playing with animals and dogs:
- Teach your child to always ask someone’s permission before touching or petting the dog; this is important so it becomes a habit;
- Children must never pet a strange dog on their own (this should be taught well);
- The petting must never be on the face or head. Dogs react aggressively to any contact to their face; so any petting needs to be away from these potentially sensitive areas;
- Teach your child never to stroke a strange dog on the head;
- Children must never tease animals; not even their own pets. Respect for the animal world needs to start early so it becomes a habit, or state of mind;
- Pulling a dog’s ears or tails is simply not allowed, and must be taught to be a cruel act to the child so they never consider doing it;
- Teach children never to play rough with a dog; teach them the different to tell apart the different characteristics between a rough dog and a normal non-aggressive type dog;
- Train your dog never to play rough with children too; remember, it is a two-way street if you own a pet dog in your home and have children;
- Teach your child how to react when faced with a possibly hostile dog – teach him or her not to scream and run away. Dogs are conditioned by instinct to chase things that move, and if a child runs, it makes a potentially bad situation, even worse. Instead, teach children to avoid making eye contact with the dog, and slowly back away from the scene.
If your child is too young to obey these kinds of instructions outlined above, then he or she should not be left alone with animals at all. Obviously, babies and infants should also not be left alone with dogs, ever. Many serious or fatal bite incidents involving children below the age of five, are in fact related to newborn babies. In many of these dog bite injury cases, the dog owners have 1) either not trained the dog properly to respond to the newborn baby, or, 2) have left the baby alone with the dog. Take time to train your dog for the new baby’s arrival by studying and researching techniques available online. Also, a dog must never be allowed to get too comfortable with the baby. If you are not sure about how to prepare your dog for the new arrival of the baby, contact an animal behaviorist for advice. As previously mentioned, there is also much that that you can learn online about encouraging a healthy relationship between a child and your dog.
One final thought, make sure that your dog is in a well secured and enclosed yard with no means of escaping. There are far too many dog bites every year that involve pit bulls, Rottweilers and other aggressive animals sneaking out of the yard, through a hole under the fence. If you live in a homeowner association community, there are usually rules you must adhere to when owning dog and having it outside in the backyard. Usually, the dog must be in an enclosed area in the back yard, or on a leash. The dogs are also generally not permitted to run up a hill to a neighbor's fence line either--the idea is the dog is secured while in the back yard. You should review your homeowner association rule book for the specifics in your area.
Mark C. Blane is a San Dog Bite Injury Attorney and the managing lawyer of the Law Offices of Mark C. Blane, a San Diego, California Personal Injury Law Firm dedicated to representing families of people injured with brain and head injuries, or spinal cord damage. If you or a loved one has been killed or injured in a head injury accident in California, due to the negligence of another, please order your free copy of Mr. Blane's book, The 10 Secrets You Need To Know About Your Injury Case, BEFORE You Call A Lawyer. It is full of helpful information that will help you protect your legal rights and it normally sells for $16.95. However, it is free to all California residents, or those injured in an California accident.