Children and dogs seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. There is nothing cuter than seeing a small child light up when they encounter a dog. Most children will jump at the chance to play fetch, pet, or just run around with a playful dog. As adults and parents, it may be even more fun for us to watch the enjoyment.
Unfortunately, we sometimes forget that something that can bring so much joy can also be dangerous and risky. It can be hard to imagine our friendly neighborhood dog ever hurting a child. And yet even the friendliest of dogs can be triggered to bite or harm a child or anyone for that matter.
Approximately 1 percent of emergency department visits are prompted by bite wounds, and dog bites account for the overwhelming majority of these injuries. Dog bites can range from minor to very severe and the scope of which they will affect your life can be large.
With that said, we don’t want children to miss out on the joy of petting a dog but we also need to be aware as adults, dog owners, and parents the risks that are associated with interacting with a dog.
What Can You Do To Prevent Dog Bites?
Children Should Never Be Left Unattended With a Dog
As a parent or dog owner, be sure children and pets are always supervised when interacting with each other. As adults, we are much more aware and capable of intervening should we see warnings or dangerous behavior.
Children should be taught how to interact safely with dogs by always respecting their space and petting a dog only when that has been confirmed to be safe behavior. Even the most gentle child, however, can trigger a dog to react poorly when gone unsupervised.
Teach Children Not to Pet a Dog Without the Owner’s Permission
Whether at a park or on a walk, children and adults will find it fun and exciting to come across a dog. Many children impulsively want to reach for and pet any dog they encounter. As a parent, it is important to teach your children to always ask permission before allowing them to pet a dog.
As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to understand the temperament and preferences of your dog. If you know your dog doesn’t react well to strangers or children, it is important to firmly hold those boundaries. You can help others respect your dog’s boundaries by being prepared to warn of expected behavior around your pet well in advance of any opportunity to interact with your animal. That may very well mean that you need to be forceful in conveying those expectations.
Warn Against Petting Dogs Through Fences
Dogs can become territorial or protective of their space. They may feel threatened or alerted when strangers or even familiar faces encroach upon their yard. Accordingly, parents and dog owners should warn children against interacting with dogs at fence lines.
Don’t Allow Children Near Dogs Who Are Eating or Playing With Toys
It is best to set boundaries for children and dogs when a dog is eating or even playing with a toy. As much as your child may want to play fetch with a dog at the park, it is not safe for them to approach a dog and reach for any toy or other object in the dog’s possession. Many dogs can be possessive of their toys and be triggered to attack at the risk of losing that item.
What If My Child is Bitten By a Dog?
If your child is bitten or attacked by a dog the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. For minor injuries, you may need to simply clean and bandage the wound. For more serious injuries, you may need to call 911 or visit the emergency room.
Contact your local health department to report the bite and document any details about the incident. Get the name and number of the dog owner if it is someone you don’t know.
Dog bites can be a concern for more than just a surface wound. The affected area will have a high risk of bacterial infections and damage to surrounding tissues. Dogs carry a number of bacteria in their mouths, some of which can cause life-threatening infections in immunocompromised people.
If you or your child have been attacked or bitten by a dog, the dog owner may be liable for damages. The Richards injury firm has settled many dog bite settlements as personal injury lawyers in the Cincinnati area.
We hope you never have the joy of interacting with a dog taken away by experiencing a bite or attack, but if you do, we are available to help you navigate the legal process of this unfortunate situation.