Responsible Dog Ownership; Tips for Avoiding Dog Bites
In addition to Whole Grains, Yoga, Childhood Obesity, Ovarian Cancer, Fruits and Veggies, September Awareness also includes Responsible Dog Ownership. Sponsored by the American Kennel Club, this “nationwide initiative educates the public about the importance of being a responsible dog owner and celebrates the deep bond between humans and their canine companions” (AKC.com)
Want a perfect friend? Get a dog. With tails wagging, they are always happy to see us. Patiently, they listen to our woe’s or celebrate joys with us. Dogs don’t judge us. Sensing our emotions, dogs are empathic. Our dogs love us unconditionally. The loyalty of a dog is uncompromising. Our pups are the perfect friend, regardless of our age.
HOWEVER…..All dogs have the potential to bite. Dogs tend to see very small children as other animals, not as human.
There are a few things a responsible dog owner can do to avoid incidents and reduce the risk of dog bites to children:
- Children always need constant, close supervision when near dogs, especially during play when children must be gentle with dogs.
- Teach children to leave a dog alone when it is sleeping or eating. Children must leave a dog alone when it lifts its lips, growls, backs away, raises the hair on its back or stares at you.
- Teach children not to approach an unfamiliar dog, even if it looks friendly. Always have your child ask you and the dog owner if they want to pat a dog.
- Pat dogs gently and calmly.
- If a child is approached by an unfamiliar dog, teach the child to stand completely still, arms by their sides, hands in a fist, and not to run or scream or make eye contact with the dog.
- Train the dog to obey commands such as sit, stay, drop and come.
- Never intervene between dogs that are fighting.
BREED and SIZE
- Small dogs are not appropriate for families with young children. Tiny dogs are fragile and if it feels threatened, fear could lead to biting. Consider a dog that is 25-30 lbs.
- Many of the large breeds — Newfoundlands, hounds, mastiffs, retrievers, Leonbergers — are generally more easy-going and are less likely to be hurt when accidentally stepped on or tripped over
- If you have active older children or teenagers in your home, high energy medium and large breeds may be an appropriate choice if enough exercise will be provided
According to the CDC, every year nearly 2.8 million children are bitten by a dog. Boys are bitten nearly twice as often as girls, and children between 5 and 9 years old are the most at risk. Most of these bites come from a dog that belongs to the family or a friend. Sixty-one percent of dog bites to children occur in a familiar setting: at home or at a friend or relative’s home.