Children typically love animals – especially cuddly dogs. However, kids are at risk of an attack every time they engage with a dog. Every year, thousands of children suffer dog bites that are severe enough to require a hospital visit. Dog bites and other animal attacks can cause serious physical injuries as well as lifelong fears for those victims.
How You Can Protect Your Child from a Dog Attack
There are some actions you can take and others you should avoid to prevent your child from being bitten or otherwise attacked by a dog.
Never Leave a Child Alone with a Dog
Children of any age should never be left alone with a dog or any other animal. Kids should be closely monitored when they are playing with dogs. Young children like infants and toddlers should not be within reach of dogs at all.
While you might want your child to grow up with a furry best friend, it’s best to promote space between them. Your dog will not see your child as an equal and may try to assert dominance, possibly causing injury to your child.
Never Disturb a Dog While It Is Sleeping or Eating
Dogs may act out of character if they are surprised. They may not be paying full attention to their surroundings when they are sleeping or eating. If a child suddenly puts a hand on them – even gently – the dog may react offensively with a bite.
Even if your dog is well-trained, it should be left alone when sleeping and eating. Dogs react with animalistic instincts when they are surprised.
Do Not Bother a Mother Dog and Puppies
Mother dogs tending to their puppies are extremely protective. They will lash out at adults as well as children. It’s important to let female dogs have time with their puppies immediately after birth. In fact, children should not be involved in the birthing process until they are much older and can understand how a dog may react when it is experiencing stress.
Never Approach an Unfamiliar Dog
It can be tempting to call or chase a dog in a park or that has become loose in the neighborhood. However, you never know if that dog is well-behaved or even vaccinated. It’s best to avoid any unfamiliar dogs and go into your home immediately if you see one.
If you are out walking your dog and you see another unfamiliar dog, you should turn around and walk in the opposite direction. Do not try to engage the other dog, even if your dog is friendly. You do not want to get in the middle of a dog fight.
Let New Dogs Sniff You If They Do Approach You
If you cannot avoid encountering a new dog, allow them to sniff you calmly. They may simply be curious. Do not reach out to pet them or engage with them. It’s best to encourage them to move on after they smell you.
Do Not Run Away from a Dog
Dogs are always faster than humans. If a dog is running towards you, do not run away from it. You can turn and walk calmly toward your house, car, or another protective structure. However, if the dog catches up to you, simply allow it to sniff you. Remain calm.
Always Stay Calm Around Dogs
Whether you are meeting a new dog or engaging with your own pet, you should remain calm. Dogs often channel the energy they feel from people. If a person is anxious or energetic, the dog may jump, scratch, and bite – even without meaning to harm the person.
Learn the Signs of an Agitated Dog
You and your children should be aware of how dogs react when they are in an aggressive state. Dogs may show their teeth, put their ears back, and hold their tails up without wagging. In extreme situations, aggressive dogs will growl and lunge forward. All this usually happens before they actually attack or bite.
Children often have enough time to get out of the way of an aggressive dog. However, they do not realize the dog is about to bite. When children are made aware of the aggressive state of animals, they can protect themselves.
Children Should Curl into a Ball if Attacked by a Dog
If a child is attacked, they should curl into a ball and protect their head with their arms. This protects internal organs and the neck, which dogs often go for. Just like children are taught to “stop-drop-and roll” for fires, they should be taught to curl into a ball if a dog attacks them.
Why Do Dog Bites and Attacks Happen?
Dog bites and dog attacks typically occur because children do not understand the boundaries that should be observed around dogs. Children see a fuzzy play toy and want to roll on it. However, dogs are hierarchical creatures and do not take well to being toppled over by a small human. Young children simply do not understand these concepts and should never be left alone with dogs.
Parents should always be vigilant of their kids and pet owners should be always aware of their dogs’ needs. This will make great strides in preventing the majority of dog bites and attacks.
Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer for Help
If your child is attacked or bitten by a dog, you need to contact a dog bite lawyer right away. South Carolina dog bite laws are complex. You and your child have rights, especially if the dog owner is at fault for the attack.
Contact attorney Venus Poe for a consultation of your case. She will review the facts and help you determine the best steps forward. Fill out our contact form to request a free consultation today.