More than half of reported dog bites requiring medical attention involve children, especially boys between the ages of 5 to 9 years old.
Of these injuries most are to the face, neck and head area.
Nearly all dog bite attacks on children happen at home or in a familiar place and the vast majority are from a dog that the child is acquainted with -- his or her own, a neighbor's, or a friend's.
Dog bite injuries are the third most frequent cause of children's visits to emergency rooms.
Several factors are commonly present in dog bite occurrences.
Teach your children to be aware of them and follow safety guidelines in these situations.
- There is more than one dog.
- The dog is in the backyard of a neighbor.
- No adult is supervising the dog.
- The dog is mid-sized or larger.
- The dog is on a chain or rope.
- The dog is injured.
- The dog is an un-neutered male.
Unsupervised children are especially vulnerable to a fatal dog attack.
Never leave young children unsupervised with any dog, no matter how trusted the animal is.
Should an incident occur, a child is helpless to defend itself before help arrives.
It is essential to teach children about safe behavior around dogs.
They need to know how to avoid dog attacks and actions to take if accosted by a dog.
The common thread of these rules is "don't bother a dog."
- Leave dogs alone that are sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Do not approach unfamiliar or stray dogs.
- Do not place your face into the face of any dog.
- Never stare directly at a dog's eyes.
- Stay a safe distance from chained dogs.
- Do not poke at dogs or place fingers in fences or cages.
- Recognize and respect dog's body language and warning signs.
- Never tease dogs.
- Don't bother dogs by hugging or crowding them.
- Do not pet a dog without asking the owner and allow the dog to see and sniff you first.
- Stay away from fighting dogs, even if one is the family pet.
Actions to take if approached by a dog center around behavior to avoid arousing a dog's "prey" instincts.
- Do not run from a dog or wave your arms around.
- Try very hard not to scream or cry out.
- Remain motionless ("be still like a tree").
- Stay still and avoid eye contact.
- If knocked over, roll into a ball, cover head with arms and lie still ("be still like a log").
- If the dog settles down, the child can back away slowly.
Page 2 of 2 - Anne Divine is a long time member of LAWS and has volunteered at Animal Control for 18 years. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.