There are no images on this blog post because frankly, they are too graphic to display. Children with bite wounds on their faces and arms are not what anyone wants to see. Unfortunately these injuries occur all too often. Approximately ½ of the 4.5 million people bitten by dogs each year are children. Children ages 5 to 9 are at the highest risk of being bitten. The majority of these bites involve dogs who the children are familiar with, either in their home or owned by people whom they know. These facts underline the importance of teaching our children how to interact safely with dogs. Dog bite prevention through education is an important aspect of our role as your family veterinarian here at Sunset Veterinary Clinic.
Here are a few easy tips that you can use to help reduce the risk of your child being bitten:
- Teach your child to avoid unknown dogs no matter how cute or friendly they may seem.
- Teach your child to always “ask” for permission to pet someone’s dog. Once given permission, teach your child to let the dog sniff the back of their hand with their fingers pointing away from the dog’s nose. Tell them that dogs like to smell new people before being petted. This is their way of saying “Hello”.
- Teach your child to confidently, slowly walk away when confronted by an aggressive dog. If they are pursued by such a dog, tell them to assume a defensive position, standing straight with their hands low and clasped in front of them and their head down. A good way to relay this is to tell them to stand “like a tree”. If they are knocked down, teach them to cover their head and neck with their arms and curl into a ball.
- Teach children to not make sudden moves toward the dog or yell. This type of behavior can make the situation worse.
- Teach your child to leave any dog alone while in their crate or bed. This is their private safe place and children should not be allowed to disturb them. If you use a crate for your dog you should cover it with a blanket and keep it near a family area. Don’t isolate them from everyday life.
- Educate children at a level they can understand. For the very young, keep it simple. Tell them to be gentle and kind. Never let them pull, ride or yell at a dog.
- Young children under the age of 5 should always be supervised when interacting with dogs.
- Dogs should be neutered to reduce aggressive tendencies.
Sunset Veterinary Clinic wants to do everything we can to support the human animal bond. Educating the public on dog bite prevention is part of our mission. If you would like to borrow our copy of the Blue Dog Safety book and CD that is pictured here, please call us at 405-844-2888.