Child and Dog Bite - How to Prevent Your Child from Being Bitten
There seems to be an eternal bond between dogs and children. I'm sure you've seen them playing ball together, catching Frisbees in the park or generally running around like maniacs. Maybe you have your own dog and know how your child treats him like his best friend. Kids and dogs are perfect together because dogs are basically kids that never grow up. Unfortunately, there are times when children get bit and these bites could have been avoided.
It's a fact that most dog bites occur because the dog is scared and trapped. Have you ever heard of "Fight or Flight?" There are very few dogs that dislike children but to a little Maltese, a hyperactive 3 year old can be very scary. This is especially true if she has never been around children. If "Fluffy" is scared and can't get out of the way of the child, she most likely is going to bite.
A second fact is that not every dog fits its breed's stereotype. This is why it's so important to teach children to ask a stranger if "they can pet his dog." Although little Anna might have a silly Golden Retriever at home, she shouldn't assume that every Golden Retriever is like her dog. Many adopted dogs are abused and can be scared of strangers. If a man was walking an abused Golden, and Anna runs up and hugs him, she is most likely going to get bitten, especially if the dog is on a leash and can't run away.
A third fact is that dogs wag their tails for many reasons other than to show that they're happy, and sometimes wag their tails when they're aggressive! Again, never assume that a dog is friendly even if she looks it. Always ask the owner's permission before you pet it and if the owner isn't there, it's best to leave it be.
It's always good to learn to interpret some canine body language and teach it to your kids. If a dog is cowering but wagging its tail "very low" he's telling you that he's scared and uncertain of you. Leave him alone. If the dog is showing his teeth and his hair is standing up on his back, he either is scared and telling you not to come closer (usually the case), or in an aggressive state. So stay back. Please discuss this information with children, nieces and nephews and even your adult friends, and remember to always have children ask before they pet a strange dog.
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