How to Keep Children Bite-Free From Dogs

Dog Bites: Keeping Children Safe

Just about any dog will bite if the circumstances call for it: A dog’s eyes and instincts help him determine when he has been unduly provoked. But there are ways to make your dog less likely to bite – and ways to teach your children how to avoid being bitten.

Each year, about 2 percent of the U.S. population is bitten by dogs – by no means always by strange dogs, guard dogs, or poorly bred pit bulls. In 1994, for example, it is estimated that about 4.7 million people were bitten. Of the 800,000 who saw a doctor, more than half were children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 300 people died as a result of dog bite-related injuries between 1979 and 2000. The majority of them were children; the next largest group of victims was the elderly.

Which Dogs Bite?

It’s deceptive to go down a list of dogs and check off the breeds that bite. Pit bulls, German shepherds, Rottweilers and sled-dog types lead many lists. But the statistics may conceal as much as they reveal. For example, some owners intentionally choose dogs with “dangerous” reputations, seeking out sellers known for breeding aggressive puppies
and then training the dogs to be aggressive.

On the other hand, there’s no shortage of people who claim that their gently bred pit-bull mix has a sense of humor, is smart and eager to please, and makes a good companion for the kids. To further prove that any breed can bite, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association points out that more than 30 breeds have been involved in fatal attacks since 1975, including dachshunds, a Yorkshire terrier and a Lab.

Factors besides breed may make a dog more prone to bite. As a rule, dogs bite out of fear, to defend their territory, or to establish their dominance. By eliminating certain factors, you can minimize the possibility that your dog will bite or attack another person – or another dog.

Helping Your Dog to NOT Bite

Teaching Your Children About Dogs

Because their energetic, bouncing movements resemble that of a dog’s natural prey, children are particularly vulnerable to dogs. Youngsters also are more likely to be bitten on the face. Here’s how children and adults can avoid being bitten and defend themselves if attacked.