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
"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
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
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
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.