Dog bites are a scary thought all on their own, but when it involves a child, it is even worse.
Children are vulnerable and they are defenseless, and for a dog driven to predator or pack mentality, they are extremely easy prey.
One key mistake, however, is thinking that the only thing you need to do is train your dog or make sure that your child is only around well trained dogs. Both you and your child have a responsibility as well. Your child should not be allowed to mistreat any animal, whether you are familiar with it or not.
Dogs are living things. Just as they need to be taught and trained to behave towards children and other dogs, your child needs to learn not to mistreat a dog.
Tail, hair, and ear pulling are not acceptable behaviors; dogs are not stuffed animals and toys, and it stands to reason that even the most even tempered dog will get sick, tired, disturbed, and ultimately extremely irritated by a child who continually jumps on his back or squeeze him to death.
So, preventing dog bites in children is a twofold task: it involves training the dog and your child.
Start by keeping your child away from dogs
For starters, it is best to keep your child away from dogs you do not know, even if it is a cute little dog.
You should never try to – or let your child – befriend a strange dog, especially if the dog’s owner is not around and the dog is not on a leash or otherwise restrained.
Do not let your child pet unfamiliar dog
Always stay away from dogs that are not restrained, and always ask permission before petting a strange dog.
If your child is going to pet a new dog, make sure to let the dog sniff your child– first at a distance, and then closer by degrees. Never let your child approach any dog too quickly; this will scare the dog, and he may snap in defense.
Teach your child, above all, to be extremely gentle with dogs – and every other animal, for that matter. Never let your children disturb a dog that is sleeping; this is especially true if it is not your dog, because you are not nearly as familiar with the dog’s behavior. It is even more crucial to never let your child bother a dog who is eating.
In fact, you should instruct your child to stay away from any dog’s food, period; the same goes for female dogs that are taking care of their puppies. It is better not to bother a dog who is playing with a toy, either, especially if your child is trying to take the toy away from the dog.
Dogs are very clear about their feelings and it is easy to tell if they are angry, irritated, or uncomfortable. Teach your child to stay away from dogs who growl, bare their teeth, snarl, or have their hackles raised.
Conversely, however, your child should never run away from a dog who is threatening. This is prey behavior, and the dog will chase. By the same token, it is better not to make eye contact with strange dogs, as this is a sign of aggression and dominance.
If you yourself have a dog, then there are several other ways to prevent dog bites in children. For one thing, spayed or neutered dogs tend to be less aggressive. As well, the earlier you begin socializing your dog, especially to children, the better.
You should also train him to be comfortable around new people and to be at ease when eating around other people.
Teach your dog games which are not aggressive; never encourage biting games. Teaching your dog basic commands, such as to sit, stay, drop toys, and heel will also help, as well keeping your dog leashed whenever you are out with him.
Most importantly, know your dog’s behavior: if you dog does not do well with children, strangers, or other dogs despite your best efforts to train him, keep him out of those situations.
Your dog has a distinct personality and you need to know what it is.