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Last Modified: March 1, 2023

How to keep children safe around dogs

Published on June 23, 2016 • Last updated March 1, 2023 by Ken Christensen
Topics: Dog Bites & Attacks

Boy hugging his dog

A dog can help your child learn responsibility, build confidence, and receive endless affection. Though dogs can be helpful your child’s development, they can be harmful if not handled properly. Over 4.5 million Americans are bit by dogs every year,  with half of them being children. Most children are bitten by dogs with no aggressive history. Friendly dogs can easily become aggressive if they feel provoked or threatened. Dog bites can also be unpredictable, startling, and scarring. This article gives you tips about how to keep your children safe from your dog and foster a wholesome relationship.

Keep an eye on your toddler!

  • 88 percent of children under 2 who were killed from a dog bite were unsupervised.
  • When your children are playing with your dog, keep a mental note of where they are, and how they are playing with the dog.
  • Frequently check on your children.

Do not make your dog feel provoked or threatened.

  • Hugging and kissing your dog, may not show the same affection with people.
  • Many dog bites happen on children’s faces as they try to show the same affection they show you. Teach your children that hugging your dog could make it feel provoked or angry.
  • Teach your children to avoid wrestling and pulling your dog’s tail.
  • Never approach your dog while it is eating.
  • Keeping your dog as calm as possible will prevent possible attacks. Remember, friendly dogs can easily become aggressive.

Keep your dog healthy

  • If a dog is sick, it will likely feel more agitated.
  • Like humans, dogs sometimes struggle to cope with their illnesses, dogs could become more aggressive if it has an illness you are not aware of.
  • Make sure your dog gets routine checkups, have its shots updated, and give it a proper diet.
  • A healthy dog will help keep your children safe from potential bites.

Exercise your dog.

  • There are many breeds that need to exercised regularly.
  • If a dog has too much energy, it will find its own exercise routine. This routine could consist of chewing on items in the house, barking incessantly, or becoming more aggressive with you or your children.
  • Develop an exercise routine for your dog with your children. Activities could include going on a walk or playing fetch.
  • Engaging your children in these activities will help strengthen their relationship with your dog.

Understand your dog’s limitations. 

  • Each dog is different: they have different sizes, breeds, and mentalities.
  • Whereas some dogs enjoy a thoughtful hug from a child, some will feel agitated. Other dogs could tolerate their tails being pulled, whereas others will become aggressive.
  • Understanding your dog’s limitations will help you gauge how others should act around your dog.

At Christensen and Hymas, we understand that dogs can be an important family fixture, but carelessness can cause harm to you, your children, and visitors. By applying these principles, we feel that many of the unfortunate dog bite cases we handle could be diminished.

Photo courtesy of Max Pixel

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