Every year, over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs. Most dog bites occur with familiar dogs throughout the course of normal, everyday activities, and sadly, bites often happen to children. While many dogs avoid aggressive behavior, and pose low risks for biting, it is important to remember that any dog regardless of age, breed or history, has the ability and the potential to bite. Fortunately, dog bites can be both prevented and avoided. Here are some tips to help your children being bitten by a dog.
1. Teach children that dogs say hello with their noses. Make sure they allow adequate time for the dog to smell them before they attempt to pet the dog.
2. Teach children that dogs must be touched gently. Grabbing a dog's ears, tail or hair is not allowed. Hitting, poking, kicking, or trying to trying to "ride the doggie" are scary to dogs. Frightened dogs are more likely to bite.
3. Teach them that not all dogs want to play with them. If a dog avoids coming to them, barks, growls, or backs away, she does not want to play, and must not be forced to do so.
4. Teach them not to approach a dog that is sleeping, eating, playing with a toy, hiding, or chewing a bone.
5. If you have, or are planning to get a dog, seek the advice of a professional dog trainer. They can teach the entire family how to read a dog's body language, and understand normal canine behavior.
6. Teach them not to approach strange dogs, dogs that are tethered outside, and not to pet dogs through kennels or fences.
7. Teach them to ask an owner's permission before petting an unknown dog. If the dog appears frightened or overly excited, don't be shy about vetoing the owner's decision. A dog that is barking, jumping, or pulling at his leash is not under his owner's control! While these types of dogs may not bite out of fear or aggression, they can still cause injury to a child by knocking her down or giving a "play bite". If this dog does not respect his owner, he is not likely to respect your child. It is best to politely remove yourself and your child from these situations.
8. If you own dogs, remind your children that not all dogs are like theirs, and may not tolerate the same things their own pets will.
9. SUPERVISE, SUPERVISE, SUPERVISE! Do not leave children and dogs alone unattended, even for a second. Sadly, the most severe bites to children occur when they are left alone with a dog.
10. If you suspect your dog needs a behavioral adjustment, please contact us for more information. You can find us online at www.sabalchaseanimalclinic.com and click the tab titled "Behavior". Here you will find some great resources on preventing bites, reading canine body language and recognizing signs of fear or aggression in dogs. You can also "Like" us on Facebook, and ask Edel Miedes of K9 Advisors for advice on your dog's behavior. We can be reached by phone at (305) 595-1450, or you can set up a consultation with K9 Advisors at (786) 419-3647.