We all know that saying ‘a dog is a man’s best friend’ doesn’t necessarily mean that the same rule applies to dogs and small children because it is not always the case. While dogs are great family pets and they can even teach children about kindness and responsibility, small children and dogs should never be left alone. Let’s go over the main reasons why in this article.
Dog Bite Statistics
We could attempt and make so many arguments, but nothing will make the risks of leaving small children and dogs alone clearer than statistics.
- In our country alone, there are about 4.7 million dog bites every year. And this is a very low estimate considering dog ownership increases every year.
- 51 percent of these dog bites are children, according to the Humane Society.
- Dog bites are the second most common cause of children’s visits to the emergency room.
- Kids between the ages of 5-9 years old are most likely to be bitten by a dog.
- 80 percent of dog bite incidents happen at home.
- 77 percent of the dogs involved in a dog bite incident belong to a friend or to the family. This means the majority of kids get bitten by a dog they are familiar with.
These statistics show us that dog bites do happen very frequently and our children are the most likely to get bitten and severely injured. A serious dog bite can easily lead to a fatality.
What a Dog Bite Can Cost You
After that initial scare of the dog bite, you might think it’s not that big of a deal. However, dog bites can come with a high price tag. Medical bills for one thing. The average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay can be up to $18,000.
A lot of homeowners insurance companies are aware of how high the risk is for dog bites. This is why many home insurance policies have a $1000 limit on medical costs related to dog bite injuries.
Unfortunately, dog bites can sometimes be very severe and reconstructive surgery is needed increasing medical costs. There can also be long-lasting emotional damage caused by a dog bite. Even a small bite can cause a severe phobia in kids that can affect them for the rest of their lives.
Even the parents of an injured child sometimes have to stay home to take care of them, resulting in lost earnings. This of course can be claimed back by filing a personal injury claim to recover costs. You can read more about this here.
Every Dog Can Bite
It can be so easy to blame a dog bite on the dog’s breed. Pit bulls have a very bad reputation these days, but Dobermans and Rottweilers were the bad guys before them.
Some breeds have a worse reputation than others because of the potential harm they can do. Big dog breeds have the potential of causing more harm than small breeds, like a Chihuahua. The reality is that every dog can bite you, from the friendly French Bulldog to a tiny Pomeranian.
If you’re thinking it’s okay to leave your child alone with a friendly-breed dog, you may want to think that twice.
Ground Rules For Children and Dogs
Now, let’s not be pessimistic here, just because every dog is capable of biting, it doesn’t mean that they will. Children get bitten by dogs more than adults because they don’t necessarily know how to interact with them. Dog body language and human body language are very different.
Here is an example: when your kid hugs your friendly labrador around the neck, they’re only trying to show them how much they love them. However, for a dog, pressure on the neck is a sign of aggression. Your labrador can feel like he’s being threatened.
It is very easy to see how this type of miscommunication can happen. That is why the number one rule for children and dogs should be to never be left alone together. It doesn’t matter if they known each other since birth. Both children and dogs can be unpredictable and leaving them alone could be a recipe for disaster.
The following are some other popular ground rules you can teach your children to interact with dogs:
- No chasing
- No yelling near the dog
- Don’t bother the dog when eating
- Don’t bother the dog when sleeping
- Always ask a dog’s owner for permission to pet
- Do not put your hand through a fence to pet a dog
- When greeting a new dog, stay calm and still
You can also teach your dog to interact with your children better. This includes basic commands like sit, down, stay. This will allow your dog to don’t get overexcited and to play safely. It is a good idea to prepare your dog by introducing it to different places, people, smells, and noises as early as possible. The more confident your dog is the less likely he is to bite someone. Anxiety and fear play a big part in all bite incidents.
What To Do in Case Of a Dog Bite
Bites can still happen even if your dog and your child are under the right supervision and have good ground rules. If your child becomes a victim of a dog bite, you need to clean the wound with water and soap. Antiseptic cream should follow to prevent infection.
For any deep wounds, you should take your child to the emergency room or their pediatrician. In case the dog bite was caused by the dog owner’s negligence you will need to contact a personal injury attorney to help you get the compensation your child deserves.
Don’t worry, it’s not all that bad. Dogs and children can be great friends throughout their lives. The best way of ensuring this is by supervising them and setting good ground rules for both your child and your dog.