Dog bites cause nearly $165 million every year in medical expenses. And while it may be adults that need to worry about those costs, it’s children that have to worry about the injury. Up to 75% of all bites happen to those 20 years old and younger, with children ages five to nine the most susceptible.
It may be impossible to deter every dog that could become aggressive, but there are ways to minimize your children’s chance of becoming a victim. Educating yourself and your kids on how to act around animals could save you a lot of pain down the road.
A good start
Children should ask a dog owner’s blessing before approaching, petting and playing with the animal. The owner will likely know if the situation will lead to a good interaction.
With permission, children need to take it slow:
- Let the dog approach first
- Allow the animal to sniff
- Make sure to pet the body, and stay clear of the head
- Use a calm voice to communicate with the dog
- Be on the lookout for changes in behavior
While actions are important, reading the situation can be just as crucial. There are times when children should not attempt to greet the dog, regardless of how well-behaved the child may be:
- Animals that don’t have an owner nearby, or appear injured
- Dogs that are already excited and may get more agitated
- A dog that is eating, watching their young or asleep
An adult should always be around to supervise interactions. Though you can try your best to teach children how to properly play with dogs, excitement can get the best of the situation. They may miss the signs that a dog is edging toward inappropriate behavior.
Even when a child does everything right, there’s still a chance an attack can happen. Animals may be unpredictable, and situations can quickly change. Dog bites can turn serious for children, and the road to recovery can be a long one.