How to keep children safe around dogs

In order to avoid bites, people, especially children, should know how to be as safe as possible around unfamiliar dogs.

Dogs are man's best friends, but all too often people in New Jersey end up having to get medical treatment because of a dog bite. Oftentimes, injuries from dog bites result from negligent owners. These owners let their easily spooked animal get too close to strangers, fail to properly contain dogs that are aggressive, or even encourage the dog's aggressiveness for the purpose of using them as security for their property or for fighting.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that each year, 5 percent of children between the ages of nine and five receive dog bites, making them the most likely age group to be bitten. Therefore, parents should make sure that their kids learn how to conduct themselves when around dogs.

When a strange dog approaches

Sometimes, an encounter with an unfamiliar dog is unexpected. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that children should understand the appropriate protocol to follow. For example, a child should never run when approached by an unfamiliar dog, as it may trigger the dog's aggression. Instead, the child should be taught to back away slowly, and without making sudden moves or eye contact.

If a dog starts to chase after a child while the child is on his or her bike, the child should use the bike as a barrier. The child should stop pedaling and avoid trying to race away from the dog as it may encourage the dog's aggressiveness.

Teaching kids protocol for approaching a dog

Children are often curious and trusting. However, when they approach a dog they do not know, or even one that they are familiar with, they should follow the following rules:

  • If a dog is unfamiliar, it should not be approached or petted, unless the owner is with the dog and gives permission.
  • Abusing or teasing animals is a definite no. Kids should be taught from an early age about kindness towards animals.
  • If a dog is sleeping or eating, it is not a good idea to bother them.
  • In view of the mother dog, children should be wary of touching and petting puppies.

The Safety Around Dogs program states that kids should never be left alone with any dog. It has been demonstrated that incorporating dog bite prevention lessons into school can reduce the likelihood that children will behave in a risky manner towards unfamiliar dogs.

Recognizing the signs of an impending bite

Petful.com provides a good description of some behaviors that indicate if a dog is about to bite. Parents should help their children identify behaviors that will alert them to a possibly aggressive situation. A clear intention to bite is communicated by the dog's bearing of the front teeth. A low growl and perked up ears are also important warning signs. If a dog feels threatened, it will attempt to appear larger by puffing out its chest and spreading its legs, whereas if it is trying to be threatening, it will make direct eye contact. If children are aware of these signals, they will know when to just back away and leave the animal be.

If a person has been bitten by a dog in the Milltown area, the dog's owner may be held liable in a personal injury claim. To explore the options in such cases, it may be helpful to consult an attorney who practices personal injury law.