Avoiding Dog Bites

According to the government, nearly one million Americans seek medical attention each year for dog bites, and over half of these are children. Of these victims, nearly half need emergency treatment. Most dog bite victims are children ages 5 to 9, and injury rates are significantly higher for boys than for girls.

Adults should be aware of ways to prevent dog bites. Since the majority of dog bite victims are children, parents should teach their children basic safety rules, including:

• Never approach an unfamiliar dog.

• Never run from a dog or scream. It is very likely the dog will chase you, as that is the natural instinct of dogs.

• If approached by an unfamiliar dog, keep you hands to your sides and remain motionless (“be still like a tree”).

• If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still.

• If you are attacked by a dog, try to feed it an article of clothing or something else easily accessible.

• Avoid direct eye contact with a dog. To a dog, that is a challenge.

• Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.

• Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.

Just as children should be taught safety measures for other situations, they should also be taught proper safety precautions for dogs. Doing so can help them avoid one of the most common kinds of injuries children suffer.

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