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Dog Bites

Rules for Children to Avoid Dog BitesNearly 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, half of these are children.1 One in five dog bites results in injuries serious enough to require medical attention.1
Any dog of any breed has the potential to bite. There are ways to make dog bites less likely.

1- Report strange behavior. If a child sees a stray dog or a dog exhibiting strange behavior, they should tell a trusted adult immediately. Especially if the dog is behaving erratically, it might be rabid, and an adult can alert animal control. Under no circumstances should the child ever approach the dog in question.

2- Stranger danger. As with unfamiliar people, children should not approach a strange animal. Especially if the dog is cute, a child might run up to pet it. Your child should never come up to a strange dog, especially if the dog is unaccompanied by a human. Even if the dog is with its owner, it’s a mistake to approach it, unless you clear it with the owner and get instructions on how to approach the dog.

3- Report bites to an adult. Make sure your child reports a dog bite to you immediately. If your child thinks they will get in trouble or get the dog in trouble, they might be hesitant to let you know that they’ve been bitten. Assure your child that if they’re bitten, no matter how minor the injury, you want to know, so you can make sure they receive proper medical attention.

4- Don’t run or scream. If a strange dog approaches the child, the child shouldn’t run or scream, but stand still and stay calm. Running could make the dog think it’s a chase game and screaming could also provoke aggression. Don’t escalate any situation by giving it more energy. If the dog knocks the child down, the child should roll up in a ball and lie still.

Why Do Dogs Attack?
In the case of joggers, etc., it’s because the motion of the person triggers their prey drive. However, not every dog will naturally decide to chase down and bite someone who’s moving too quickly. Those dogs that do have learned to do it — again, because of human negligence.

It starts with a dog that barks to defend its territory as a jogger runs by. Why does the dog bark? To make that person go away. And what happens when the jogger keeps running? They go away, and the dog has “won.” After this happens repeatedly, the dog learns that barking will make the invader leave, so its excitement level goes up in anticipation. This continued reinforcement really is the definition of a “vicious cycle.”

Eventually, this increased excitement can lead to the dog becoming bolder and more aggressive to the point of actually rushing toward or chasing the jogger. With enough excitement and unbalanced energy, this may lead to a bite or an attack, and the dog isn’t really consciously doing it.

How can dog bites be prevented?
Dog bites are a largely preventable public health problem, see the below suggestions for for preventing dog bites.
Before you bring a dog into your household:
Work with a local animal shelter, rescue organization or reputable breeder. They can often help you find breeds and dogs within those breeds that will be a good fit for your household.
Choose a veterinarian who can help you identify a reputable trainer for your new family member.
Be sensitive to cues that a child is fearful or apprehensive about a dog. If a child seems frightened by dogs, wait before bringing a dog into your household. Dogs with histories of aggression are not suitable for households with children.
Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a dog into a household with an infant or toddler.