Dogs and Children: Preventing Bites

Just because a dog appears or is thought to be good with kids does not mean that the dog will tolerate everything a child does. Children are unpredictable and they make loud noises and erratic motions/moves that could cause a dog to become frightened and overwhelmed. Any dog, even friendly dogs, can and will bite under the right circumstances, especially if they feel threatened and cannot escape the situation. Statistics show that kids are most frequently the victim of dog bites and are often bitten by dogs that they know, like the family dog In many of these situations, the parents or other adults may not be present or may not believe that their dog would bite.

Parents should actively monitor interactions between their children and dogs, taking the necessary precautions to eliminate potentially dangerous situations. To avoid dog bites, parents should not allow children to:

  • Place their face in the dog’s face, nor should they allow them to hug and kiss the dog.
  • Wrestle with the dog.
  • Tease the dog.
  • Allow them to be around the dog when it is eating.
  • Take a bone or toy away from a dog.
  • Play, run near, or approach a dog that is lying down/sleeping.
  • Approach a mother dog and her puppies.

Parents/adults should always directly supervise interactions between young children and dogs.  When direct supervision is not possible, children and dogs should be kept separate. Dogs should be placed in a separate room or use barriers like baby gates to separate and create a “safe” area for the dog. Visiting children can add to the excitement and activity in one’s home. Dogs may be uncomfortable sharing their space with a stranger and again, a “safe” area should be provided for the dog in order to keep children separated from them. Parents should learn their dog’s “language” and teach it to their child. In addition, parents should instruct their children on appropriate and safe ways to interact with dogs. Teaching your child to freeze in place or act like a tree when a dog chases them can prevent an accident, as running and screaming could encourage a dog to continue the chase.  While working on creating a friendly and peaceful relationship between a dog and a child, refrain from using punishment. Punishing an already stressed and frightened dog can ruin any chance of a relationship between the two and does not correct the issue.

Remember: Safety is the priority when it comes to dogs and children. Take steps beforehand to prevent a dog bite.