As the weather starts to get warmer, kids will be outside more. So will dogs.
Dogs and children can be a dangerous combination. Kids often make quick, unexpected movements that can frighten a dog and cause it to react out of fear or possessiveness of its person or territory. Even when a dog thinks it’s playing, it may be big or strong enough to hurt a child. The majority of kids who suffer dog bites are under 14.
You can’t always be sure that owners will do their part to keep their dogs from hurting your child. Sometimes, the owner isn’t even around. You’re not always around either. What if your child is playing outside or at a friend’s house and a dog approaches?
It’s important to teach your child how to be safe around dogs — not just ones they don’t know. but ones they may feel like they know (like a friend’s or family member’s dog and even their own).
Kids should be taught never to do the following to or around any dog:
- Tease them
- Pull their tails or ears
- Squeeze them tightly — even in a hug
- Disturb them while they’re sleeping, eating or with their puppies
- Back them into a corner or small space
- Take a toy away from them
If your child encounters a dog they don’t know, they need to remember the following (as do adults):
- Don’t approach them or touch them without the owner’s permission.
- Never touch a dog without letting it sniff you first.
- Don’t run away from it. If it approaches you, stand still, stay calm and don’t look it in the eye. If possible, you may try to slowly back away from it.
- If the dog knocks you down, cover your face, curl up and lie still.
If your child suffers a dog bite, it’s important to get them immediate medical care. If you know who the owner is, let them know what happened (if they weren’t there). Their homeowner’s insurance policy may cover dog bites. Whether it does or not, you may be able to hold them liable for any expenses and damages that result from the bite. An experienced attorney can provide more information.