Teaching Kids How To Avoid Dog Bites

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Today's post comes from Daniel Fagbuyi, MD, FAAP. He's an Emergency Medicine pediatrician and dad of three.

Dogs make wonderful pets, they are man’s best friend and more often than not, they are a member of the family. However, they are still animals and educating your children on how to properly approach a dog, could prevent bites.

Children need to understand that dogs are territorial. They want to protect their family or their owner. If they see a stranger, in this case a child, they want to protect their owner and, unfortunately, the only way they know how, is to bite.

Teach your child to ask you permission to pet a dog and empower them to ask the owner too. Learning how to properly approach a strange animal and how to pet an animal will help you and your family avoid injury.

How to Avoid Dog Bites: 

  • Never leave a child alone with a dog -- even the family pet
  • Avoid dogs that are cornered, chained, in a car or behind a fence 
  • Don’t play rough with any dog
  • Don’t break up a dog fight
  • Don’t surprise older dogs
  • One that’s deaf or blind may bite
  • Keep your face away from a dog’s head
  • Don’t disturb a dog that’s sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies

Even well-behaved family dogs can snap. Educate your children with these warning signs.

Warning Signs of an Aggressive Dog: 

  • Growling, snarling, or barking 
  • Crouching with the head low or the tail between the legs 
  • Fur that’s standing up, erect ears, a stiff body, and a high tail 
  • Obvious injury or pain

If your child is bitten, there is some first aid you can apply. Remember to consult your physician in case there are any further treatment is needed.

How to Treat a Dog Bite: 

  • Rinse any bite with running water to clean away bacteria 
  • Wash the wound with warm, soapy water for at least five minutes 
  • Cover wound with a clean bandage and call your healthcare provider 
  • Apply direct pressure and raise above heart level, if the bite is bleeding heavily 
  • You may want to report the dog bite to the local health department and animal-control agency. Also, try to find out if the dog is up-to-date on all vaccinations.

There’s nothing wrong with petting an animal, just be cautious. Sometimes they can seem nice on the surface and still bite you, but understand they are just protecting themselves from strangers.


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