The majority of injuries to children inflicted by dogs are carried out by dogs they know (either the family dog, or the dog of a relative or a friend). This is because these dogs are the ones they come face to face with most often. In the US there are nearly 150,000 reported injuries per year to children (ages 0 -19 years) and 20 child deaths per year. Injury rates are highest in children of age 5-9 years.
Dogs may try to dominate young toddlers or babies because of their size or may be irritated by a hug or stroke or unintentional prod. Since a child's face and neck are closer to a dog's height, and obviously children are not as strong, typically there is more risk of a serious accident to a child compared to an adult.
Remember even your own pet may get jealous of the attention a child gets instead of attention to itself so may harbour thoughts of attacking, especially when you are not around.
This guide is not trying to warn you against having dogs with children - dogs are amazing animals and the vast majority have great natures and are friendly and loving. But even placid dogs can bite in certain circumstances. And the potential dangers must be understood so you can minimise any potential risks around any dog : the fact is that the family dog is the most likely dog to bite your child (admittedly because these , inevitably, are the dogs they spend most time with).
Dog Safety Tips
- Never allow any dogs near babies or in the baby room
- Completely avoid contact with and never have a dog of a known vicious breed and make sure your children never come into contact with these types of dog.
- If you choose to have a dog, make sure it is a family friendly breed. If you take on an older dog, it will be harder to train so you will need to find out if it is good with kids
- Make sure your children know to avoid any dog that is eating, sleeping (let sleeping dogs lie), has puppies or is ill.
- Always supervise your children when unknown dogs are around and keep them very close. If a dog makes a sudden move for your child you must be positioned suitably to prevent it (i.e. always position yourself in between the dog and your child)
- Don't allow dogs to become over excited around children or play chasing games
- Move away from dogs you don't know (walk the long way round) when you are with your child
- Keep other people's children a safe distance away from your dog
- Don't allow your children to tease dogs and don't let them climb all over dogs,ride them or play too roughly with them.
- Train your child to keep their faces away from the dog's mouth
- Train your dog that your child comes before them in the family pecking order by allowing them to feed and train the dog from a young age
- Try and read up on dog's body language and consider training any older children to read this too
- Do not hit your dog and don't let your child do it. If they do it (or copy you) the dog could react badly