The first blog in this series was 6 Things to Consider when Choosing a Pet. Then came the various Ways Pets Can Make Your Kids Sick, and what to do about them. Last week was How to Raise a Puppy You Will Like as a Dog.
Today’s blog is the last of the series: How to Prevent Bites. Whether or not you have a dog, it is a good idea to teach your kids how to behave around them in order to prevent bites.
There are about 800,000 dog bites requiring medical attention annually in the United States; about ten per year are fatal. Of the fatal attacks, 92 percent are by male dogs, 94 percent of which are not neutered. One in four is chained up. The particular breeds that bite vary with where you live and what breeds are popular at the time. In many areas, bites from pit bulls predominate. In Denver, where pit bulls are banned, the majority of bites are from German shepherds. In Canada, bites are more likely to be from sled dogs and Huskies.
Restricting specific breeds doesn’t work because the people are the problem, not the dogs. Unfortunately, there will always be people who want aggressive, vicious dogs. Many states have laws that hold the dog owner responsible for the dog’s actions. These are more effective, but they are not on the books everywhere and are difficult to enforce.
The typical dog bite victim is a boy, aged five to nine. Dog bites are 370 times more likely when there is no adult supervision; 88 percent of dog bite deaths of children less than two years of age are children who were not supervised. Half of these are attacks by the family dog.
Never leave a baby or a young child alone with a dog.
Kids don’t naturally speak dog; we need to teach them!
- Rule number one is that they never approach a strange dog, particularly one that is chained up. Chaining dogs stresses them and makes them feel vulnerable. When your child approaches them, they are invading the dog’s territory, which they feel they are unable to adequately protect while they are chained.
- The same problem occurs when small hands are stuck through fences – another don’t.
- Teach your kids to stay away from dogs that are eating, protecting toys, or nursing puppies – dogs are protective of what is theirs. Even the sweetest bitch will snap at a strange human who approaches her puppies.
- Never disturb a strange dog while it is sleeping.
- If a dog is safely restrained and with its human, kids should ask permission before they pet it. They should approach calmly and hold out their hand in a closed fist. If the dog sniffs it and wags its tail, they can scratch it under the chin—not on top of its head. They should not curl their body over the dog; if they stay in front of the dog where it can see all of them it will feel less threatened.
- If they squat down in front of a dog they are saying, “Come play with me.”
- If they run from the dog, they are saying, “Chase me!”
- Teach your kids to stand tall with their shoulders down and chins up. They should speak calmly and quietly, and move slowly. Dogs have been around humans for a very long time and are very good at reading us, and to them this stance means “alpha.” If someone else is alpha then the dog can relax.
As always, dogs are great for teaching life lessons. Kids who stand tall, respect other living creatures, and know how to be calm and take charge do well in real life.