Kids and Dog Bite Accidents, Parents Learn to Be Cautious

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimatetd 68 million dogs are kept as pets in the United States. More than one million dog bites are reported each year. And there are estimates that an equal number of dog bites (one million) go unreported each year, about 60% involve an injury to a child. Approximately 70% of dog bite wounds are inflicted on the child’s face. Children ages 5 to 9 have the highest dog-bite-related injuries. More than 60% of dog bites occur in the home of the dog owner. Approximately 77% of dog bite victims are members or close friends of the dog owner’s family and are therefore familiar with the dog.

Contrary to popular myth, there is no such thing as a child-friendly dog breed. Although some breeds may be more suitable for children, a dog’s propensity to bite is dependent on many factors, including the dog’s inherited traits, environment, training and socialization. Studies have shown that the most positive influence on a dog’s comfort around children is positive interaction with children when the dog is a young puppy.

There are some guidelines that, if followed, can reduce the chance that a dog will bite a young child. The critical age for socializing a dog is between ages of 3 and 14 weeks. A dog in this age range that is introduced to young children has a much lower incidence rate of biting kids. Also, neutering male dogs decreases the chance of aggressive behavior.

If you plan to have young children and a dog, it is best to adopt a dog while it is young and introduce it to the children during the toddler age. However, dogs need to be introduced to children at all ages. Young toddlers will act differently around the dog than a 10 year old child will. Children should be involved with the training sessions of the dog. This allows the dog to experience the child as an authoritative figure, thereby decreasing the chance that the dog will bite the child. Children should also be involved in other caretaking activities, like feeding, grooming, and bathing the dog.

Parents should never leave young children alone with a dog, particularly if the dog has limited experience with that child. You can teach children to recognize fearful or aggressive behavior in a dog so they can take steps to avoid or minimize the risk of a bite. And finally, parents should set good examples of how to treat the dog.

This is a small excerpty from "Little Kids Bid Accidents: What Every Parent Should Know About Children and Accidents," written by child injury and dog bite attorney Chris Davis. To continue reading, click here to order your free book!
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