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Preventing Dog Bites with Children

boy laying in field with two dogs
Dogs can be great friends, but it’s important to take steps to prevent dog bites.

Most animal lovers don’t think twice when it comes to introducing a new puppy or an older dog into the family. As an animal lover myself, and being familiar with the dynamic of both children and dogs in the same house, I can’t help but wonder if as well as taking the necessary steps to prepare for the new member of the family, are the proper steps being taken to prevent a dog bite from happening at home?

In order to take the necessary steps to prevent a dog bite or attack from happening at home, it’s important to understand why dogs lash out. There are several factors that may cause a dog to become uncomfortable and bite, and most of them are amplified when children are involved.

Choosing the Right Breed

One of the best preventative steps to take against dog bites occurring at home is choosing the right breed. When choosing a dog for your family, do your research. There are over 100 different dog breeds to choose from. Look into the dog’s temperament. Is the breed friendly and outgoing, or shy and introverted? You want a dog that loves people, especially children.

At the same time, keep in mind your living situation. Do you have a lot of space for a big dog, or do you have limited space and would be better off with a smaller breed? This is important because a big dog cooped up in a small living space is going to be more hyper and it is going to take up a lot of space. Some of this space is going to have to be personal space. Can you afford to accommodate that?

Personal Space

Getting along well with our four legged pals can be easy for adults, but as adults we also know the importance of personal space. That is a concept that most children are not too keen on. Your space is their space, and everyone else’s space is theirs as well. Dogs are no different than us when it comes to the aspect of needing personal space. If invaded, they may feel threatened and uncomfortable and lash out. A good way to prevent this from happening may be to perhaps wait to introduce a dog in to the family until the child is of at least school age.

There were 359,223 dog bites on children between the ages of 1-14 between the years of 2010-2012. 37% of those dog bites were to children between the ages of 5 and 9 and 66% of the injuries were to children 4 years and younger. When children are at least of school age they can be taught more easily about boundaries and how their new soon-to-be best friend doesn’t really prefer hugs as a form of affection. If you choose to introduce a dog before this time, make sure that all interaction is monitored as neither the child nor the dog can fully control the situation.

Dog Body Language

There is no easier or more natural way for a dog to communicate than through his body language. We all know the most common signs. If a dog is wagging its tale it is happy. If a dog has its ears raised and upright it is alert. If your dog is lying down and sleeping chances are it is tired.  However, it may take a while to understand all the other nonverbal signs that your dog may exhibit in the future. The best way to handle this, and use it as a tool to prevent dog bites from happening at home, is to observe your dog and try and depict his body language. Once you learn how to interpret your dog’s gestures and clues, you will be able to better understand his emotions and predict how he is going to react to certain situations. This gives you a step up on taking action when you see a situation that may not end in a favorable way.

Misunderstandings occur a lot with grownups, but we can  verbally communicate with each other. Now imagine all the misunderstandings that can occur between a dog and a child on a daily basis. These tips can help you limit the chances of a dog bite happening at home, which can lead to a happier and more worry-free household. And one less worry with little ones goes a long way for peace of mind.

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