Keeping Your Kids Safe From Dogs
Posted on 06/24/2013
Thanks to Guest Author Elizabeth Mercer Matlock for this article.
Most dogs are like members of the family and get along great with kids. Kids form strong bonds with dogs that can’t be broken, but the safety of the child should always be paramount.
Every big city and small town has dog attacks where children are the unlucky victims; no city is immune. Just a few weeks ago, an Atlanta toddler was killed by his family’s pit bull while his mother was in the bathroom for a few minutes. A 5 year-old girl, also in Atlanta, was a little luckier. Although she was attacked by her family’s dog<, she survived with major injuries. Today, she’s managing to cope and learn how to walk again. While children are generally helpless in a dog attack, teaching them basic safety and prevention tips for dealing with dogs can go a long way toward keeping your little tike safe.
At an early age, kids should be taught that mutual respect is key to their safety around all animals. While dogs like to play and romp around the house, there’s always a chance that the dog’s survival instincts will kick in when least expected. If a dog senses a threat to himself or his territory, even if unintentional, he may become aggressive and possibly dangerous.
Here are some things you can do to minimize the risk of a dog attack:
- Teach kids not to disturb a dog while sleeping, eating, chewing, or playing with a toy
- Kids should never have face-to-face contact with any dog, and should avoid grabbing his face or tail
- Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog
- Teach kids that dogs they don’t know should never be approached, regardless of size and friendliness
- Dogs don’t like to be cornered without a clear escape route, so playing with them should be in an open, unobstructed area
- Teach kids to slowly walk away from a growling dog
- Restrain aggressive dogs from all kids
- Don’t leave dogs alone and outside for extended periods
Dogs can be easily startled by sudden movements, screaming, or a child hitting or grabbing them unexpectedly. While a small child is no threat to a big dog, the dog’s self-defense mechanism can be triggered by things he’s never seen or heard before. Dogs are also very possessive and territorial. Kids should be taught that the dog’s food, space, and toys will be protected by the dog.
If a dog is left alone for a long time, he will become even more territorial. If an unfamiliar child enters his territory, he’s far more likely to bark or bite. Even the best trained dog has predatory instincts that can be aroused if provoked enough. To some breeds of dogs, an infant can easily be mistaken for prey.
For this reason, laws are in place to protect the public from dogs. Leash laws allow owners to walk their dogs, but still keep the neighborhood kids safe. Playgrounds have fences, both to keep children in and dogs out. Some localities hold dog owners legally responsible for anything their dog does. As a result, owners are more likely to obey leash and fence laws for their dogs.
It’s not enough to train your dog, or to depend on other dog owners to confine their dogs safely. Children should be taught how to treat and respect their pets so they can enjoy their company and avoid risk of injury. If you have a puppy, expose him to kids of all ages. This promotes familiarity and reduces the puppy’s fear of being around them.
Elizabeth Mercer Matlock writes for Singleton Law and has long enjoyed seeing the fruit of a well-written legal article. She’s well-rounded in her interests and never above making a good lawyer joke.
This article is originally posted and shared by the The Pet Blog.