Preventing Dog Bite Injuries Is Key – Part 2

A serious dog attack often leads to traumatic facial injuries or even death. This is particularly true for children, whose smaller stature and lack of understanding of dog behavior expose them to dog bite injuries at greatly elevated rates. Of the millions of dog bites that occur every year, the majority are suffered by young people. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly two-thirds of dog bite fatalities are suffered by children. Nearly 70 percent of facial bite victims are less than five years old.

Pet owners need to understand the potential for harm when a dog interacts with a new person, particularly a child. Adults and children alike need to understand that dogs need time to acclimate. The worst thing a person can do is often the first thing they do: put their hands directly in a dog’s face. Even worse is what children often can’t help but do: put their face in the face of the dog. These behaviors may make a dog nervous or frightened and the response may be to defend itself by biting.

Another common mistake is when people assume that their dog is good with children because it is good with theirchildren. Just because a dog has grown comfortable with children in its family group does not mean the dog will be comfortable with other children. If possible, it is generally best to keep dogs away from children they don’t know. If they must interact, the pet must be kept under tight control by the owner or handler as long as the child is present.

Every dog is different and every dog carries the potential to bite a human. Whether or not the human triggers this response, it is the pet owner and the dog that will be held responsible. The best way to deal with a dog bite injury is to prevent the incident from ever occurring.

Source: Ravalli Republic, “Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to dog bite injuries,” by John Holtzen, D.M.D., 29 January 2013