Tagged in: Child

Interact with Dogs: Child Safety

Dog experts will agree that some dogs bite and some dogs don’t, but all dog bites are preventable. Unfortunately, children are at a high risk of receiving a bite from a dog. In Canada and the United States, between 1982 and 2014, of all the reported dog bite cases, 81% of the victims were children. Additionally, between 2010 and 2012, 359,223 children were bitten by a dog and while many people assume that dog bites are received from strange dogs, about 61% of dog bites occur within the home or in a familiar place.

While there is often controversy as to where the responsibility falls when a dog bite occurs (some blame the owners, others blame the victim) parents can help decrease the risk of a dog bite by teaching their child how to responsibly and safely interact with dogs.

Adult Supervision Around Dogs

Although it’s important that children are taught how to behave around dogs, either familiar or unfamiliar, adults are also responsible for supervising children around dogs. If an adult is around, particularly the owner of the dog, the dog is less likely to attack. If an attack does occur, adult intervention can help reduce the severity of the attack (ie. fatal attack). Similarly, if a child is left alone with a dog and the dog does attack, the child is less likely to free him or herself from the attack than if an adult was present. Not only are adults responsible for supervising a dog’s behavior, unsupervised children are more likely to wander off into a potentially dangerous situation.

Why Do Dogs Bite?

This is an important question to answer, especially for people who assume that dogs are always at fault. First off, there is no one reason why dogs bite, but here are a few:

  • Dogs are Pack Animals: By nature, dogs are pack animals and much of their behavior is based on such instincts. Since children are typically smaller than most dogs, some dogs may consider themselves as superior or alpha. Additionally, a dog may display protective behavior for a territory or person (which is also instinctive behavior).
  • Boundaries are Compromised: Many dogs are territorial and have boundaries in which they feel comfortable and safe. Children, on the hand, do not understand boundaries. An overly protective dog can feel threatened when his or her boundaries are crossed.
  • Too Much Physical Contact: Most dogs like affection and are eager to receive it, but if a tail or ear is pulled by an overly affectionate child, a bite may occur as a warning to “back off”.

Show and Tell Your Child How to Interact with Dogs

While dog owners have a great responsibility to teach their dogs not to bite and to recognize a potentially dangerous situation (ie. meeting strangers or too much stimulation in public), parents can only control how their child acts around dogs (or how the family dog acts). Here are some tips to teaching your child how to act around dogs:

  • When approaching a dog (and his or her owner) always walk slowly and quietly
  • Always ask the owner if you can pet his or her dog, never assume
  • If the owner says “yes”, slowly extend your hand to let the dog sniff the back of it (not the palm)
  • Pet a dog’s shoulder or chest, not the head

 

Additionally, if a child is in a dangerous situation with a dog, he or she should:

  • Never run, but give the dog a jacket, backpack, or something not attached to them
  • Avoid direct eye contact and stand like a tree with arms at their sides
  • Remain quiet and curled up in the fetal position if the dog knocks him or her down

Teach Your Child About Safety

Once the summer ends and school is back in session, you shouldn’t have to worry about your child, wondering if he or she is safe. While schools should be a safe environment for children of all ages, children are still prone to injury at school or during extracurricular activities. It’s impossible to follow your child around all the time nor can you create a magic bubble to protect them from harm. You can, however, teach your children how to be safe at school and during other activities away from home. Your child may still suffer an accidental injury, but if he or she is prepared to be safer the chances of injury are less likely.

At School

 

Children of any age are prone to injury from time to time, it just seems to be a natural occurrence. Whether your Kindergartener tripped on his untied shoelaces or your teen daughter slipped on the ice while wearing slick soled shoes, you can’t always predict when an accident will occur and if an injury will be the result. When your child attends school, he or she is taught about school safety and what choices are safest. Unfortunately, like many children are known to do, some follow the rules only some of the time. Here are some ways to reinforce your child’s  safety at school:

 

  • Remind your child to follow directions and don’t break any safety rules.

 

  • Encourage your child to think before he or she makes a choice at school. For example, ask questions that will make your child think about consequences. What would happen if you pulled on your classmate’s shirt? What might happen if you jump off of the monkey bars? How would you feel if your chair fell on the floor because you were tipping backwards?

 

  • Explain your expectations and discuss consequences for not following safety rules at school.

On the Field

 

Kids who play sports are almost destined for an injury. Each year, millions of children of all ages visit the ER for various sport related injuries from dislocations to concussions. While it’s the coach’s responsibility to supply safety equipment and teach your child how to use it properly, you can be influential in your child’s safety during sports. Explain to your child why safety equipment, such as helmets and pads, are essential while playing a sport. Encourage your child to talk to you if he or she feels like the sport is too dangerous or if he or she sees that the equipment is not being used properly. Additionally, always encourage your child to warm up and to stay hydrated in order to prevent injury.

Out and About

 

Whether your child walks home from school with a friend or is taking the bus for an extracurricular activity, your child must know how to be safe. While goofing around on the school bus seems to be the “cool” thing to do, remind your child how to be safe while riding a school bus and explain that failing to follow directions can lead to injury.

 

If your child is old enough to walk home from school or walk around the neighborhood with friends, he or she may still need to be reminded about safety. Even in low traffic neighborhoods, children may be injured as a result of failing to pay attention to traffic or walking in the street.

 

If a child is well-informed about safety and injury prevention, he or she can have more independence without causing you stress or worry.