Many children who grow up around dogs look back fondly on their canine childhood companions as adults. But unfortunately, a dog bite or attack can wipe out all those happy memories and replace them with terror and horrific scars.
But parents can and should teach their children how to interact in safer ways with their four-legged friends. Below are some tips that can protect your child from a devastating dog attack.
Learn the language of dogs
Dogs communicate with humans all the time. No, it’s not with words and sentences the way we humans interact. But a little observation and perception can teach children what dogs are trying their best to convey without a bite. Below are some signs that a dog wants no contact with you:
- You see the whites of their eyes. Sometimes referred to as “whale-eye,” if you can glimpse the white half-moon of a dog’s eye, it means it’s time to give the dog its space.
- The tail is down between its legs or stiff and erect. The former signifies fear — and a scared dog may bite. The latter indicates aggression. It’s a very clear sign that the dog is aware, alert and focused on a target. Back off slowly and keep your eyes downcast.
- The dog is guarding food, treats or toys. Some otherwise very friendly dogs get aggressive and guard resources. This can stem from earlier times of deprivation when they had to fight to eat or just be an inherent trait. Either way, teach your children to leave dogs alone when they are eating or growling over a toy.
- The dog is in heat or trying to mate with a dog in heat. The reproductive drive is very strong in canines, and dogs that normally are quite friendly can lash out if a child gets between them and the dog with which they are trying to breed.
What to do after a bite
If your child is bitten, scratched or mauled by a dog, they need medical attention. If you know the owner, ask to see proof that their dog is up-to-date on rabies and other shots. You may need to file a claim for damages to recover costs expended on medical care and other charges.