Millions of people experience dog bites each year, many of which are children. With the average dog bite claim costing nearly $50,000, prevention is important. Children are particularly vulnerable to dog bites because they often approach dogs incorrectly.
There are a few tips to help your child safely approach a dog and minimize the risk of a bite.
Always ask before approaching a dog
Children struggle with impulse control. When they see a dog, they often struggle to resist the temptation to approach and pet the dog. This impulsive action increases the risk of bite injuries when they approach an unfriendly dog. Teach children to ask the handler before approaching a dog every time.
Teach children about stress signals
Learning how to interpret dog body language helps children remain safe. Teach your child how to recognize signs of a stressed or uncomfortable dog. Turning away, yawning, licking and shaking are common indications of stress. Ignoring these signs increases the risk of a dog bite.
Help children safely approach dogs
Kids think about situations simply, so they often approach dogs directly and straight on. This type of movement often makes dogs uncomfortable, increasing the risk of bites. Teach children to approach a dog from the side, petting gently on the chest where it is less threatening.
Understanding the safest means of approaching a dog and how to interpret a dog’s reactions will help children reduce the risk of a dog bite. If your child does suffer a bite, seek restitution from the owner to cover the medical costs.