Will Your Dog Bite Children?

"All dogs will bite given the right combination and number of triggers."

©Scott Sheaffer, CDBC, CPDT-KA, USA Dog Behavior, LLC

I hear some form of the following almost every day, “I’m not worried about my dog biting children; there is no reason to teach my kids about dog safety.” The reality is that the majority of dog bites to young children are from known dogs, e.g., the family dog and neighborhood dogs.

There are three reasons why you need to be concerned about teaching and modeling safe dog handling to your young children – regardless of how your dog behaves around your children:

One – All dogs will bite given the right combination and number of triggers. While your lovable Sheltie keeps her cool when being bothered by your children, she may not be cool with this if she, for example, is also sick and not feeling well. This is especially true if she can’t escape the mayhem.

Her only way to communicate her discomfort may be to place a very measured and strategically placed bite on the offending child.

Two – Just because your Lab mix puts up with all kinds of harassment from your kids, doesn’t mean that your neighbor’s dog has this same level of tolerance.

The danger is obvious. Your son or daughter hugs, goes face-to-face with or otherwise bothers Max the Golden Retriever down the street and he bites. Max’s threshold for this behavior from children may be much lower than it is with your dog. Your children need to learn that not all dogs are the same.

Three - Children represent the majority of dog bite cases at hospitals and these bites are normally to the child’s face. Dogs are typically more wary of young children because they are small, fast moving, unpredictable and loud as compared to adults. This includes children who live with a dog. In short, most dogs have a heightened level of vigilance around children which increases the bite risk.

Regardless of how your dog behaves with your children, it is important to provide them with sound training on how to properly interact with all dogs. In addition to training, it’s just as important for the adults in a child’s life to model these same behaviors when interacting with all dogs.

For more information, please see 4 Dog Bite Prevention Essentials you Need to Know to Protect your Child.