Children are bitten by dogs much more often than you might think. According to the CDC, over 2 million children are bitten by dogs in America every year. Of those, over 400,000 require medical attention as a result of the incident. Additionally, the rate of dog bite–related injuries is highest for those ages 5 to 9 years.
If you have a child, it’s extremely important to teach them how to interact with dogs, regardless of whether you own a dog or not. Dog bites can cause severe injuries and even death. Here are some basic rules every child should know.
Ask for permission before approaching or touching a dog
Even if it’s a dog that you know and see on a regular basis, always ask for permission before touching a dog. Give the owner an opportunity to say it’s ok. If the dog is feeling sick or injured, it might be less receptive to receiving attention than normal.
Keep your energy low when interacting with a dog
If you are screaming, yelling or otherwise have high energy, dogs might perceive that as a threat, causing them to lash out and bite you in defense. Be sure to stay calm when interacting with a dog to ensure that you don’t create a situation where the dog will bite you.
Don’t tease or taunt a dog
As a dog’s energy escalates, they become more likely to act out and bite someone. Teasing, taunting or being rough with a dog not only will cause them to get more excited, but will also create a scenario where they see you as a threat.
Don’t disturb a sleeping, eating or sick dog
Waking a dog from sleep can startle the dog, making it think it is being attacked. Out of instinct, it may lash out immediately by biting you. Additionally, when dogs are eating, they are more likely to be on edge. If a dog thinks you are trying to take their food away, they can view that as a threat, biting you to protect their food. Lastly, when dogs are sick or injured, they feel more vulnerable because they know they aren’t at full strength. Because of this, they are more likely to bite you when they otherwise wouldn’t.
Report a stray dog immediately and do not approach it
If you see a stray dog, tell an adult right away and do not approach it or try to capture it. This will keep you safe and will allow someone to help get the back to where it belongs.
Stand still or tell an adult if a dog is making you uncomfortable
It’s ok if you don’t want to interact with a dog, even if it’s being friendly. If that is the case, simply tell an adult that you don’t want to interact with the dog. If there is no adult around, be sure not to panic and walk quietly and calmly to the nearest adult, letting the adult know you don’t want to interact with the dog.
Teaching your child how to properly interact with a dog will keep them safer and help them avoid being bitten by one. If you or your child has been bitten by a dog and would like to speak to an experienced dog bite attorney, please contact us at 800-676-5295. We will help you understand your options.