Most kids don’t believe that a cute and cuddly dog could ever hurt them. The truth, however, is that millions of people get bitten by dogs each year, and many of the victims are children under the age of 14. So, how can you make it possible for your kids to enjoy playing with Fido while still being safe and sound? Teaching your little ones a few basic doggie manners will significantly reduce the chances of them being injured by a dog bite.
Just as you teach your children not to talk to a stranger, you should also be teaching them to never approach a strange dog. If your kids see an unfamiliar canine wandering around loose and unsupervised, they should know to avoid the animal and alert a grownup. If the dog is with an owner, the child may ask from a distance if it is safe to approach the dog and pet it.
Stay Cool and Calm
In the event that a strange dog approaches your child without an adult present, they should know how important it is that they remain calm and still. Let your kids know that yelling, running away, making sudden movements, or hitting could provoke the dog and cause it to attack. Instead, teach them to calmly and confidently walk away from the strange animal. Should the dog continue to follow the child, he or she should stand still and “be like a tree” until the dog loses interest and leaves. If the child is on the ground when a strange dog approaches, they should lay face down with their hands formed in fists behind their head and their forearms covering their ears and “be like a log.”
See Something, Say Something
If your child sees a dog behaving strangely, they should know that they need to immediately walk away and inform an adult of the situation. Erratic dogs may be infected with rabies, while highly energized dogs could be aggressive and dangerous.
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Teach your kids that if a dog goes off to be alone or into its crate, that this is the dog’s “quiet time” and it should not be bothered. Even when the child is familiar with the dog, the animal could become perturbed or startled if disturbed while sleeping, thus causing it to snap, snarl, or bite.
Encourage Positive Play
Kids should know the “do’s” and “don’ts” of playing with a dog. Let your children know that it’s never okay to pull on a dog’s tail or try to “ride” on it’s back and that it’s mean to tease a dog by taking its toys or food, or by pretending to hit or kick the animal. Instead, practice positive play with your child and your dog. Teach your little ones that if the dog walks away, he needs a break from playing, and that he will return when he is ready for more playtime.
If a Bite Occurs…
Because dogs are animals, there’s always a chance that “man’s best friend” could nip at or bite your child. In the event that a bite occurs, it’s important that your child knows to inform you or another adult right away. Children sometimes worry that by telling a grownup about the bite, either they or the dog will get in trouble and be punished. Make sure that your kids know that this isn’t the case. Approximately 20 percent of all dog bites require medical attention, so it’s imperative that your kids feel safe coming to you if they are bitten.
Dog bites (no matter how severe) should be washed and disinfected immediately, and it’s often wise to see a medical professional to test for rabies. For more information on treating dog bites, please take a look at our previous post on the matter.
Has your child been bitten by someone else’s dog due to the dog owner’s neglect? We’re here to help you fight your case. Give the legal professionals at Mintz Law Firm a call to get started today.