Injury Prevention

Dog Bites

One-half of America’s children will be bitten by a dog at least once before the age of 12, and the children most at risk are those under five. Surprisingly, most of the bites are not from stray dogs but instead are from dogs owned by a child’s family or friends.

Owning a dog can be a wonderful experience for children through teaching them how to interact with and take responsibility for their pet. But with these benefits comes the need for precautions to prevent dog bites.

Safety Tips

Learn these tips and pass on the appropriate ones to your children.
  • Become familiar with the types of dogs that are most likely to be mean or vicious, and know where these dogs live in your neighborhood.
  • Train children on how to behave around dogs. Teach them not to play too rough with dogs—especially when it’s hot.
  • Never leave young children alone with a dog.
  • Never let a child go near a dog that you don’t know.
  • If another adult says it’s okay to pet a dog, let the dog smell your hand before you pet him. This is how a dog gets to know you. After he sniffs your hand, pet him where he can see your hand. Never pet a dog on top of his head first. This can startle a dog that does not know you.
  • Teach children never to go near a dog that’s eating or gnawing on a bone or one they don’t know.
  • Report vicious or stray dogs to animal control.
  • If approached by a dog, back up slowly and watch the dog. Do not stare.
  • Climb onto a car or other elevated surface to escape an attacking dog.
  • If attacked and you have nowhere to go, fall face down and cover your head and neck with your arms. Don’t try to outrun him.
  • If a dog is threatening to bite you, give the animal something like a hat, coat or shoe that it can bite instead.
  • Always use a low, firm voice to address a threatening dog, and use simple commands like “Go”, “Go home”, “Sit”, “Down”, or “No”.

Please consider the following tips when choosing a dog:

  • Know how much activity and attention a particular breed requires.
  • Consider the size of your yard.
  • Pick a breed that is a suitable size for your family members.
  • Budget for food and maintenance.
  • Consider how much time the dog would be alone.

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Last Update
May 23, 2008
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Last Update
May 23, 2008
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