Dog attacks are surprisingly very common in the country, and the unfortunate victims are usually children. In fact, about 4.5 million people are bitten by canines every year and around 885,000 of those victims require medical attention. Over half of those bitten were children. This information is based on the report by the Center for Disease and Control.
There are various ways for a child to get bitten by a dog:
- The family dog bites the toddler. This is the most common case.
- A neighbor’s dog attacks the child.
- The toddler approached a stray dog and get bitten
- A stray dog attacks the child for no apparent reason
This issue is reaching epidemic proportions; thus, a lot of researchers are asking “Why?”. Education is the key to solving this problem. Dog owners, parents, and children should know the common reasons behind dog attacks and learn how to prevent it.
Why Dogs Attack Children
A lot of parents and dog owners are unaware of how a child’s energy, behavior, and boisterous activity can confuse and alert a dog. Children can also invade a dog’s space which might provoke the companion animal. Here are some of the most common reasons why dogs attack toddlers.
Territorial Behavior: There are certain dog breeds that are very territorial; therefore, their main cause of aggression stems from this behavior.
- Dogs are more likely to attack children under the age of six if they feel that the kids threatened to take his food or toys.
- Children older than six years old are more likely to get bitten because they intruded on the dog’s territory.
- Dogs become more aggressive and are more prone to attack if they are guarding their food.
Anxiety: Dogs may also exhibit anxiety, and an anxious dog will become more aggressive. They become anxious due to any of the following:
- Sudden loud noise, such as fireworks or thunderstorms
- Noisy, boisterous, and unpredictable activities from young children
- Separation distress
Pain: Adults know better than to approach a dog that is in pain. Young ones, however, may not be able to determine whether a dog is in pain. If a child approaches a dog with medical conditions or is in pain, the dog might attack.
Provocation: According to Bob M. Cohen & Associates, dogs will attack if they are provoked; this includes taunting, teasing, and poking. To illustrate, toddlers have the tendency to pull on the dog’s tail or jump on their backs. While there are dogs that tolerate these activities, others might feel provoked and will attack the child.
How To Avoid Dog Bites
You should educate your child about the common reasons for dog attacks. Doing so will inform your child what he should not do around dogs. In addition, you should also teach your child to look for signs that a dog is afraid, anxious, or aggressive. Here are a few things to watch out for:
- Snarling, barking, or growling
- Fur standing up, ears are erected, stiff body, and high tail.
- Crouching the head low
- Tail between the legs
- Obvious injury
More importantly, you should also teach your child how to properly act around canines, whether it is your family pet, a neighbor’s dog, or a stray. You should teach your child the following:
- If a stray dog approaches, he should keep still and avoid eye contact.
- If a dog attacks, he should curl into a ball and protect his head, neck and face.
- Never play rough with any canine
- Never try to break a dog fight
- Do not approach canines that are chained, inside a car, or behind a fence
- Ask the pet owner of the dog before petting.
- Do not surprise a dog.
- Avoid approaching or disturbing the dog when he is sleeping, eating, or caring for her puppies.
- License: Creative Commons image source
The author, Kris Hopkins, is a registered nurse. In her line of work, she had treated a number of dog bite patients and most of them were children. She wrote this article to raise awareness regarding dog bite incidents and how to avoid it. She also recommends dog bite victims to seek help from a personal injury lawyer for their legal claims.