Danger of Dog Bites

Each year, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs. Almost one in five of those require medical attention for the injury. For some, that means a trip to the emergency department. For others, reconstructive surgery.

About 50% of children in the US will be bitten by a dog before their 12th birthday. Most of the time, the child will know the dog – either their own dog or that of a neighbor or friend. We think about making sure our children understand avoiding stray dogs but we don’t pay enough attention to teaching children how to behave around familiar dogs.

Before introducing a dog or any pet into the household, research the characteristics of each breed. Talk with professionals to understand what dogs typically get along well with children. This is not a guarantee about any specific animal but it is good to think about the traits you are seeking. Avoid buying or adopting on impulse. Bringing a pet into the home is a long-term responsibility.

As you are planning for a dog

  • What breed is the best fit?
  • How much room does the dog need?
  • If adopting, has this dog shown any aggressive habits?
  • Is your child fearful around dogs?
  • Who will care for the dog?
  • How many pets are already in the home?
  • As the number of dogs in the home increases, so does the incidence of dog bites.

If you decide to bring a dog into your home

  • Never leave infants or young children alone with a dog.
  • Avoid aggressive play with the dog.
  • Properly socialize and train the dog.
  • Teach submissive behaviors like rolling over to expose the abdomen and giving up food without growling.
  • Immediately seek professional advice if the dog develops aggressive behaviors.

Teach your children safety rules to use around any dog

Make sure they understand why these rules are important.

  • Animals will usually give a warning to back off.
  • Make sure children respect what the dog is trying to say.
  • If the dog gets up and walks away from the child, stop. Leave the dog alone.
  • If the dog turns his head from the child, stop.
  • If a dog yawns while being petted, he wants you to stop. Leave the dog alone.
  • If a dog guards food or toys and he freezes or stares, leave him alone.
  • If a dog raises his tail when children approach, he is telling them to stay away. This is a warning.
  • If a dog has his tail between his legs, even though it may be wagging, stop. He is unsure. This is a warning.

Recite the pledge with your child

  1. I will not stare into a dog's eyes.
  2. I will not tease dogs behind fences.
  3. I will not go near dogs chained up in yards.
  4. I will not touch a dog I see loose (off-leash) outside.
  5. If I see a loose dog, I will tell an adult immediately.
  6. I will not run and scream if a loose dog comes near me.
  7. I will stand very still (like a tree), and will be very quiet if a dog comes near me.
  8. I will not touch or play with a dog while he or she is eating.
  9. I will not touch a dog when he or she is sleeping.
  10. I will only pet a dog if I have received permission from the dog's owner.
  11. Then I will ask permission of the dog by letting him sniff my closed hand.

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