You love that your child likes to be around animals, but the idea of a dog bite scares you. The truth is that children are more likely to be bitten by dogs, even those that are familiar. There are a few reasons for this, and not all of them are the fault of the dogs.

For example, many children roughly handle their pets and others’ animals, even though doing so could put them at risk of being bitten. While a pet at home may be tolerant to this roughhousing to a degree, few dogs are going to sit and allow a child to pull their ears or hit them repeatedly. If the dog is a stranger, then that scenario could lead to a bite much sooner.

Another issue is that a child is smaller, so they are more likely to be approached at eye level or just below. A dog may see eye contact as a threat, which can pose a danger to children.

In either of these cases, there is one factor that makes a difference. That is that parents have the ability to step in and teach their children about how to interact with animals. For example, parents should explain to children not to:

  • Try to pick up a dog they don’t know, even if it belongs to a friend
  • Hit or yell at a dog, even if they know it
  • Approach a dog that is growling, has its ears pressed down or has its tail tucked
  • Approach a stray dog, even if it seems friendly

If a dog does bite a child, the owner of that animal will normally be responsible. The goal is to avoid bites, though, so taking some time to talk to your children about dogs and how to interact with them safely is vital.

If a stray or aggressive dog is approaching or is present near your child, consider removing yourself and them from the situation to avoid a bite. Children are less fearful than adults, on the whole, so your observation and subsequent actions may help prevent the bites that you’re worried about.