Over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year and many of those are often children. It is important to remember that any dog, regardless of age, breed or history, has the ability and the potential to bite. Fortunately, dog bites can be both prevented and avoided.
Miami Children’s Hospital and Sabal Chase Animal Clinic in Miami have teamed up to provide some tips to help your children stay safe around these furry friends during National Dog Bite Prevention Week which is May 19-26:
- Teach children that dogs greet strangers with their noses. Make sure they allow adequate time for the dog to smell them before they attempt to pet the dog.
- Teach children that dogs must be touched gently. Grabbing a dog's ears, tail or hair is not allowed. Hitting, poking, kicking, or trying to "ride the doggie" are scary to dogs. Frightened dogs are more likely to bite.
- Teach them that not all dogs want to play with them. If a dog avoids coming to them, barks, growls, or backs away, she does not want to play, and must not be forced to do so.
- Teach them not to approach a dog that is sleeping, eating, playing with a toy, hiding, or chewing a bone.
- If you have, or are planning to get a dog, seek the advice of a professional dog trainer. They can teach the entire family how to read a dog's body language, and understand canine behavior.
- Teach them not to approach strange dogs, or dogs that are tethered outside. Dogs should not be touched through kennels or fences.
- Teach them to ask an owner's permission before petting an unknown dog. If the dog appears frightened or overly excited, don't be shy about vetoing the owner's decision. A dog that is barking, jumping, or pulling at his leash is not under his owner's control! While these dogs may not bite out of fear or aggression, they can still cause injury to a child by knocking her down or giving a "play bite". If this dog does not respect his owner, he is not likely to respect your child. It is best to politely remove yourself and your child from these situations.
- If you own dogs, remind your children that not all dogs are like theirs, and may not tolerate the same things their own pets will.
- Always supervise. Do not leave children and dogs alone unattended, even for a second. Sadly, the most severe injuries to children occur when they are left alone with dogs.
- If you suspect your dog needs a behavioral adjustment, please contact us for more information. You can find us online at www.sabalchaseanimalclinic.com and click the tab titled "Behavior".
If you would like to set up an interview with an animal trainer who can explain how to talk to children about how to approach animals, please contact Sabal Chase Animal Clinic at 305-595-1450 or visit www.sabalchaseanimalclinic.com.
If you would like to set up an interview with a pediatric specialist or trauma expert, please contact Miami Children’s Hospital Public Relations at 305-668-5514 or email Jennifer.Caminas@mch.com.