Dogs are not only man’s best friend, they’re often our kids’ best friend too. The family dog has long been a mainstay of the American household, and provides children with companionship and lessons in responsibility. With Christmas and other gift-giving holidays occurring this month, many children will receive a puppy or even an older dog under the tree this year.
However, while dogs and children can and should be the best of friends, dog attacks against young children occur throughout the year and cause injuries ranging from slight to serious. Keep in mind that interactions between dogs and children should always be supervised, and this is even more important when the children are young or the dog is a new addition to the family.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
There are many reasons that a dog might bite a child. Introduction of a dog to a new environment, especially one with children, should be done as slowly and calmly as possible. Remember that dogs are hierarchal animals, and their instinct is to establish their place in the new “pack” they find themselves in. This can include aggressive behavior toward children, especially children smaller than the dog such as babies and toddlers.
Another common cause of biting is unintentional provocation from children who do not know better. A dog might bite if provoked by a child who pulls his tail or ears, grabs fur too tight, or encourages a dog to run after them. Remember that what seems like play to a child might seem aggressive or like prey behavior to a dog.
Preventing Dog Bites
Education and practice are the keys to preventing most bites from family dogs. Teach children the proper ways to interact with a dog, and warning signs to look for such as raised fur, ears held flat, and of course, growling or other unusual sounds.
Properly screening a new pet is also important. Some dog breeds are anecdotally known to be more prone to bite, and some dogs have abusive pasts that make them unsafe to be around children at all. Never bring a dog into your home if you have any reason to believe that it may be prone to attack. If your child is bitten by a friend or neighbor’s dog, you may be entitled to financial compensation, especially if the dog has previously bitten others. Call Steinburg Injury Lawyers, your Los Angeles personal injury and dog bite lawyers, to speak to an attorney about your rights in such a situation. Contact us today at 800-989-6385.