Dog bites are one of the biggest reasons for emergency room visits in the U.S. In fact, over 4 million people suffer from dog bites each year, and these are only the ones that are reported. What’s even sadder is that more than half of those dog bites are to children. For this reason, it’s critical that parents know how to keep their children from getting a dog bite, no matter if they actually own a dog or not.
Teach Your Kids About Dogs
From an early age, parents need to teach their children about how to approach a dog and what to do if a dog approaches them. This education can go a long way in ensuring a child’s safety, especially if there isn’t a dog in the family home. Often, kids want to pet a dog or even hug it because they look cute and friendly. But, they need to know that not all dogs are as friendly as they seem.
Teach kids to never put their face in a dog’s face, even if it’s their family dog. Dogs don’t like hugs and kisses, even if they appear to return the kiss with lick of their own.
Instead, kids should scratch dogs on the side of the neck or on the chest. If an unknown dog approaches your child, teach them to stand as still as a tree. The dog will sniff them, but will get bored quickly and leave. Never run because dogs like to chase things that run.
Never approach a stranger’s dog without the owner’s permission and if the owner says no, teach your child to respect that because the owner knows the dog better than anyone.
Your child should also never tease or disturb a dog, particularly if the dog is eating, protecting something, or sleeping. These are times when dogs are most aggressive.
Parents Can Help a Dog Become Less Aggressive
Not only should parents teach their kids how to behave around dogs, they should also take steps to help a dog become less aggressive. Parents should always supervise their kids whenever a dog is present, even the family dog. You might think your dog is great around kids, but all it takes is once.
Training is also critical for dogs so they can learn how to behave through positive reinforcement. Dogs should never be pinned or rolled over as a way to teach them to be less aggressive because they may take out their frustration on smaller members of the family.
Spaying or neutering your dog will naturally make it less aggressive in most situations. This is not a cure-all, though, because dogs will still bite if they are provoked or disturbed while eating or sleeping.
Conditioning your dog to the world will get it used to all kinds of people, distractions, loud noises, and other things that can frighten a dog into aggressiveness. Just be aware that when you’re out and about, kids (and others) will want to pet your dog, so make sure you’re always supervising these interactions and removing your dog any time it’s being bothered.
The majority of dog bites can be prevented through education and being proactive. Take the steps now to prevent a tragedy later.
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