©Scott Sheaffer, USA Dog Behavior
No one can guarantee that a dog, even your own, will not bite your child. Some dog owners think their Max would never hurt a flea, much less bite their own child. Remember that dogs are animals and, given the right circumstances, may respond to your child by biting.
Child Dog Bite Facts
•Any breed of dog can bite children; even small dogs can represent a significant threat to children.
•82% of dog bites treated in the emergency room involve children less than 15 years of age.
•Bite rates are dramatically higher for children who are 5 to 9 years old.
•65% of bites among children occur to the head and neck because of a child’s size relative to the dog.
Children are clearly at higher risk for dog bites.
Education Is The Key
Most people don’t appreciate how quickly a dog can bite. Most, but not all, dogs give a warning growl before biting. The interval between the growl and the bite can sometimes be just milliseconds, making avoidance impossible.
Teaching your child to recognize situations when a dog might bite is the key to preventing bites – including bites from the family pet. Educate your children on the basics below and closely monitor them to ensure they adhere to these guidelines with unknown and known dogs. This list does not represent all risk factors, but it does represent some of the most important ones.
4 Dog Bite Prevention Basics For Children
These guidelines apply to unfamiliar dogs and to dogs in your household.
1) Most importantly, parents should always closely supervise children when they are near dogs, any dogs. This is especially important for infants and toddlers.
2) Children need to know that getting face-to-face with any dog can be extremely dangerous. In the dog’s world this can be considered confrontational. A child might do this many times to the family dog with no consequence; however, this is not a 100% predictor of future behavior. It concerns me that I frequently see pet industry advertising showing children face-to-face with dogs.
3) Primates (e.g., humans, apes and monkeys) enjoy hugging one another and find comfort in this. This is a unique attribute of primates that is not shared by other species. Canines may tolerate hugging by humans but can also see it as threatening behavior. Teach your children not to hug or lie on Fido or any other dog.
4) Just like humans, dogs don’t like being bothered when sleeping or resting. Unlike grandpa, dogs can instinctively react by biting the person who startles them. Instruct your children to steer clear of sleeping or resting dogs.