Dogs Can Be Friendly, And Dogs Can Bite!

The friendship of a dog can be wonderful for children's emotional and physical health. But children - especially those ten and under - are most at risk for dog bite injury. As well as disease and disfigurement, dog bites can bring about long term emotional trauma. It is well known that stray dogs can be a danger. However, most bites are inflicted by dogs known to the victim often their own or a neighbour's dog.  The Dogs and Kids Web site aims to reduce the incidence of dog bite injury - by encouraging responsible dog ownership and by teaching children safe behaviour around dogs.

"Parents should be encouraged to teach young children to treat all dogs with the greatest respect for their own personal safety."

While no prevention program is 100% successful, teaching children how to safely approach or retreat from a dog, and which situations to avoid, will give them greater confidence and safety in handling encounters with dogs. It can make life more enjoyable for dogs too!

Why Dogs Bite

The vast majority of dogs are safe, reliable companions. But even a friendly dog may bite if threatened, angry, afraid or hurt. Some dogs can be described as dangerous—bred or trained to be aggressive, with predatory instincts that may cause them to chase and attack a fleeing child.

Dogs Protect Things, Places and People

Just as humans do, dogs protect things they care about, whether their food, puppies, or favourite toys. They also protect spaces—their own and their owners’. Eating and sleeping areas, yards, porches, and parked cars are all commonly defended by dogs. A child reaching through a fence or arriving unannounced at the door, can turn a neighbour’s warm, loyal pet into a growling, aggressive protector. Dogs provide us with protection. We must ensure that children understand this and are aware of situations that may frighten or anger a dog.

Other Reasons Dogs May Bite

Cornering, crowding or standing over a dog, particularly a small one, may make it feel defensive. Children should stand back and never put their faces close to a dog’s mouth. The face is the most common site of serious dog bite injuries.

Stray dogs are in danger and may be dangerous. Any dog that is loose may be lost, frightened or injured—and more likely to bite.

Sick or injured dogs may be afraid or irritable and should be avoided by children.

Elderly dogs may have impaired vision or hearing, or more sensitive to touch which can cause them to be more easily startled.

Some dogs are inadequately socialized. Dogs living with or around children need to be able to tolerate a degree of rough treatment without resorting to biting. Choose your dog carefully and discourage even play-biting by puppies, to avoid problems later.

Most children’s dog bite injuries occur during play with a dog they know. A dog that is excited or nervous can bite by mistake. Children should be taught not to play fight, tease, yell at, or chase dogs or other animals.

Dogs can feel left out, especially when a new baby or pet joins the household. Give a dog extra love and attention at these times.