Many of us cannot imagine our lives without our best friend—our best canine friend that is. American families sure do love their dogs, and millions of people have more than one dog in their home at any given time. Dogs bring us joy and companionship, and many of us love our canine family members as much as we love our human family members.
Sometimes, however, a dog’s instinct to protect itself or defend the human he loves takes over and leads to aggressive behavior out of the dog’s typical character. For this reason, it’s absolutely imperative to teach your children how to interact with dogs very early in their childhood. The more small children understand about dogs and their behaviors, the more likely they are to not experience a dog bite during their younger years. Most dog bites in this country are not random attacks but occur because of some type of threatening behavior the dog sensed prior to the attack.
Dog Bite Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year, and 800,000 of those bites require medical care. The U.S. population is approximately 325.7 million people as of 2017, which means that on average, one out of every 69 people will suffer a dog bite at some time in their life. While those numbers seem awfully high, the CDC is a great source of information regarding dog bites, so we have to believe the stats are spot on.
The CDC also reports that children are more likely to be bitten by a dog than adults. Because of their young age and their small bodies, dog bite injuries can be more severe in children than in adults. Over half of dog bite injuries occur at home with dogs that are familiar to the bite victim, and having a dog in the household is linked to a higher likelihood of being bitten than not having a dog. As the number of dogs in the home increases, so does the likelihood of being bitten. Adults with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten than those living without dogs at home.
Why Dogs Bite
The caninejournal.com reports that dogs bite for a variety of reasons:
- They are reacting to stress
- They feel scared or threatened
- They are protecting themselves, their puppies, or their owner
- They are feeling sick
- They may just be roughhousing too aggressively
How to Prevent a Dog Bite
There are many things you and your children can do to prevent a dog bite.
- Ask if it’s ok to pet someone’s dog
- Curl into a ball with your head tucked and your hands over your ears and neck if a dog knocks you down (teach your children this action by practicing it over and over)
- Immediately let an adult know about any stray dogs or dogs that you’ve seen around your yard
- Don’t approach an unfamiliar dog
- Don’t run from a dog
- Don’t scream
- Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies
- Don’t pet a dog without its owner’s permission
- Don’t pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first
- Don’t encourage your dog to play aggressively
- Don’t let small children play with your dogs unsupervised
If a dog bites your child, take him to the nearest ER or urgent care right away, and if the dog bite is serious, please report the incident to your county or city animal warden and police department. If you feel you need to take legal action against the dog’s owner, please contact a personal injury attorney in your area to schedule a free consultation with a lawyer who handles dog bite cases.