Dogs may be man’s best friend, but it’s crucial not to forget they are still animals capable of causing severe injuries – especially to kids. Dogs bite over 4.5 million people in the U.S. each year, and 800,000 of them will require medical attention. Alarmingly, children make up at least half of the dog bite victims who need medical care.
Because children are the most common victims of dog bites, it’s essential for parents and kids alike to learn how to keep themselves safe when interacting with dogs. Young children are far more likely to suffer injuries – particularly to the head and neck – if a dog becomes aggressive.
Fortunately, most dog bites are preventable. By understanding why dogs bite and how to avoid those scenarios, you can ensure you and your family stay safe around your furry friends.
What can lead to a dog bite?
Most dogs are friendly and loving, but things can turn quickly if they feel threatened or frightened. By learning what may provoke defensive or aggressive behavior, you can ensure everyone stays safe when interacting with a new or familiar canine. Typical scenarios where a dog may bite include:
- When a dog feels it must defend itself, its territory or one of its owners. Female dogs with puppies will also fiercely protect their young.
- When a dog is startled, such as after waking one up or if your child suddenly approaches it from behind, it can provoke a bite.
- When a dog is in a fearful or stressful situation, it may bite whoever approaches them. This reaction could result from something severe, such as a rescue dog’s abusive history, or a response to something you perceive as normal, such as the sound of fireworks.
- If a dog is sick or injured, these are common causes of bites as well. A dog who isn’t feeling well may not even want their owners to approach them when they are in pain.
It’s easy for children to become excited in the presence of dogs, but it’s important to remember that not all dogs want you to approach them. Teaching your family how to engage with dogs safely will help them to avoid potentially serious injuries.