According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children are more likely to receive dog bites than adults. Unfortunately, the injuries that children receive as a result of a dog bite are often more severe. Children are more likely to experience facial injuries because their small size puts them at approximately the level of the dog’s mouth.
Part of the reason that children are more susceptible to dog bites than adults is that they do not know how to interact safely and may misinterpret the warning signs that a bite is imminent. Teach your kids the following rules to help keep them safe from a devastating bite.
1. Leave unattended dogs alone
Tell your children not to approach a dog that is running around loose. If they see a loose dog that makes them nervous, instruct them to inform an adult.
2. Always ask permission before petting
Just because a dog is with its owner on a leash does not mean that it is friendly. Tell your children that if they want to pet someone else’s dog, they must first ask for permission from the owner.
3. Allow the dog to sniff
Teach your children how to allow a dog to sniff them before they attempt to pet it. Explain that dogs use smell to learn about others.
4. Look for warning signs
Teach your children warning signs that a dog may be about to bite, such as growling or baring its teeth. Tell them not to attempt to pet a dog that is displaying warnings such as these.
5. Do not run away
This may be one of the hardest rules to teach because it goes against every defensive human instinct. Tell your children that if a dog starts chasing them, rather than running away, they should freeze in place. This makes them seem like less of a threat, and the dog will lose interest. By contrast, if they run, the dog’s chase instincts kick in, and a bite is much more likely.