Experts Say Children Are Most at Risk For Dog Bites During Summer
It’s summer and your kids are home from school. More likely than not, though, they’ll be outside playing somewhere. Unfortunately, during the summer months, when more small children are outside, there are typically more dogs outside as well. Statistics show that the summer vacation months are the time of year when dog bites and attacks are more likely. It’s most likely a combination of factors—more kids outside, hotter weather that makes dogs more irritable.
There are measures that you can take, though, to minimize the risk that your child will be a dog bite victim this summer. A four-year study reported in the medical journal Injury Prevention looked at more than 100 dog bites involving more than 40 breeds and came to the following conclusions:
- The single greatest contributing factor to a potential bite or attack is a dog’s natural territorial response — Almost every breed of dog has some territorial instinct. The study found that children under the age of six were more likely to be bitten when going for a dog’s toy or food. The study found, however, that dogs of many different breeds will become aggressive when an unknown person comes close to them.
- Fear or anxiety are also precursors to aggression — The study found that dogs were more likely to attack if exposed to sudden noise (including thunderstorms or fireworks) or unpredictable movements. Some dogs also showed more aggression when their owners were not present.
- Children were less likely to recognize that a dog was in pain — A number of attacks involved canines who had suffered some type of injury or had some type of ailment. The evidence seemed to show that most children did not have the tools to be aware of that.
- The younger the children, the greater the risk — The study found that children under the age of 10 were about five times more likely to be attacked than any other age group. Within that demographic, boys were more likely to be victims of a dog attack than girls. Researchers say that younger children tend to be louder and move more unpredictably and can often look a lot like the way young dogs play. If you’ve ever watched puppies play, they use their teeth a lot.
- More often than not, the dog is one that’s known to the family of the victim — It may be a neighbor’s dog, a friend’s pet or a dog that frequents the neighborhood. The familiarity with the dog can give the false impression that the dog doesn’t pose a serious risk.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Children From Dog Bites
The first and most important thing is to communicate to your children that dogs need to be treated cautiously.
- Teach your children not to run to a dog—the safest thing to do is stay put and ask if you can say hello.
- They should never pet a dog they don’t know.
- They should never approach a dog that is eating or chewing on anything
- Don’t pull tails or ears and don’t wrestle with the dog (even your own dog)
- If a loose dog approaches them, they should stand as still as possible—if they run, the dog’s instinct will typically lead them to chase and bite
- Tell them to roll into a ball and keep their hands over their ears until the dog leaves—the more passive they remain, the less likely the dog will be aggressive with them.
Contact Our Dog Bite Attorneys Today
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