Because of their little bodies, delicate skin and lack of understanding about dogs, children are the most at risk of getting seriously hurt in a dog attack. For a small child, even a tiny dog could cause devastating injuries, so it’s important that parents teach their children how to stay safe around dogs as soon as they’re old enough to understand how to safely comport themselves around pets.
Here are the most important dog safety tips you should teach your child:
- Stay far away from dogs you don’t know and never approach an unattended dog.
- Don’t approach a dog that’s caring for its puppies, sleeping or eating.
- If you see a stray dog, tell an adult immediately.
- Don’t tease or roughhouse dogs.
- If you’re going to pet a dog — even if it’s a known-to-be-friendly dog, always let the dog smell the back of your hand before petting.
Here’s what your child should do if a dangerous or unknown dog approaches:
- Don’t scream or run away.
- Be as still and silent as possible while facing the dog with your arms by your sides, and keep your hands cupped at your waist.
- Don’t make direct eye contact with the animal.
- Wait for the dog to go away, or slowly back away while facing the dog. Never turn your back to the animal.
- Tell an adult about any potentially dangerous dogs you encounter.
- If the dog attacks, throw it your jacket or backpack.
- If the animal knocks you over, turn into a ball like a hedgehog and put your hands around your neck and ears.
- Make fists with your hands to keep your fingers safe.
- Be still and wait for the dog to go away.
If your child was seriously hurt in a dog attack, you may be able to pursue a claim for damages against the dog owner to obtain money to pay for your child’s medical care, pain and suffering and other costs associated with the attack and injuries.