05-18-2011 (Dayton, OH) -
While fetch with Fido may be your child’s favorite pastime, it’s important to emphasize dog safety to keep your little one bite-free and safe around the family and neighborhood dogs.
Locally, The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton treats up to 250 children a year, or about 20 children a month, for dog bites.
“Most young children are about the same size as dogs and the dogs may see these children as a threat,” says Thomas Krzmarzick MD, of the Soin Regional Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Center at Dayton Children’s. “It’s critical that parents teach their children how to interact with dogs to prevent injuries. Just because a dog has never bitten, does not mean that it won’t get scared and bite in defense. Eighty-five percent of dogs who bite have never bitten before.”
Dayton Children’s recommends parents review these eight simple tips with their children to avoid potential dog bites:
- Always ask a dog’s owner if you may pet the dog. There may be a good reason why a dog should not be touched. He may be “on duty” as a handicapped person’s helper, or he may be hurt, sick or afraid of kids.
- Approach a dog from the front or side. Hold your hands low and allow the dog to smell you first before you pet it. Speak softly. If you surprise a dog from behind, wave your hands in the air or yell, you could scare the dog and cause him to try to bite you.
- Let a dog eat and sleep in peace. A dog that is eating may think you are going to take his food away if you come too close, so be sure to leave him alone until he is done. If a dog is sleeping, you might scare him if you come too close and wake him up, so wait until he wakes up by himself.
- Watch out for special toys. Some dogs have strong feelings for their chew toys - just like you do with your favorite toys! You wouldn’t want someone to grab your favorite toy away from you, so don’t take a bone or toy from a dog’s mouth.
- Respect a dog’s space. Dogs naturally protect their territories. Sticking your hand into a dog’s pen, through a fence or in a car window where a dog is sitting may cause him to protect his property and bite.
- Do not run from a dog. The dog’s natural instinct is to chase and catch you. Stay still when approached by an unfamiliar dog. If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still.
- Tell an adult. If you see a stray dog or dogs displaying unusual behavior tell an adult immediately.
- Report bites. If a dog bites you, immediately report the bite to an adult.
As the saying goes, dog is man’s best friend. A family dog will most likely be your child’s first friend.
Consider these nine tips when adopting a dog into your home:
- Consult a professional (a veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) to learn about appropriate breeds for your home.
- Avoid getting a dog with an aggressive history.
- Make sure your children are comfortable around dogs before getting one.
- Spend time with the dog before buying or adopting it. Be extremely careful when adding a dog to a home with an infant or toddler.
- Spay/neuter virtually all dogs—this may reduce aggressive behavior.
- NEVER leave infants or young children alone with dogs.
- Be a responsible dog owner. License your dog as required by law and provide regular veterinary care, including rabies vaccinations. Don’t allow your dog to roam alone.
- Teach and train dogs when they join your home. Teach the dog submissive behavior (ie, rolling over to expose abdomen and relinquishing food without growling).
- Make your dog a member of the family. Dogs who spend a great deal of time alone in the backyard or tied to a chain often become dangerous. Dogs who are well socialized and supervised are much less likely to bite.
A family dog will provide your child great friendship and fun; however, without proper instruction on how to interact with the dog you may be putting your child in harm’s way.
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