When Zac was 11 months old, he crawled into his grandma’s dog’s food dish. With his meat paws, he sat clenching dog food, occupying the center of the large bowl of dog food. What came next was sheer terror.
We had just returned from the Dade County Fair, and while I prepared a bath for my boys, I heard the chaos. I ran into the living room where my husband told me to stay calm and get in the car. I demanded to know what had happened and when he turned Zac to face me, blood ran down his face, across his nose and his cheek. I shrieked.
Somehow, we all made it to the car and then to the emergency room. My child still screaming–more panic than pain, I’m certain. I waited in the waiting room with Jake while Zac was strapped to the papoose board, given a numbing shot or two in his face and returned to me with four stitches across his face. I had much to be thankful for as the doctor told us that we were lucky the dog hadn’t taken Zac’s eye out in the attack. My own eyes followed the laceration from Zac’s eyebrow, across his nose and down near his eye.
Did you know that children are the most common victims of dog bites? Many dog bites that affect children happen during everyday activities and with familiar dogs.
May 18 – 24 is National dog bite Prevention Week, and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has great ways to help parents and their children understand how they can prevent dog bites so that you can help your kids – and dogs-stay safe and happy!
10 Things We Can Teach Our Children to Prevent Dog Bites
- Avoid dogs you don’t know. If you see an unknown dog wandering loose and unsupervised, avoid the dog.
- Ask before petting! When the owner is with their dog, always ask the owner for permission to pet their pup. Even if it’s a dog you know, asking first can help prevent sudden movements that may startle the dog.
- When confronted, don’t panic. If a dog confronts you, walk confidently and quietly away. If a dog goes after you, stay calm and stand still, keeping hands low and clasped in front of you. It’s important to take a defensive position, so the dog won’t think you are trying to harm him.
- Don’t make it worse. Avoid escalating the situation by yelling, running, hitting or making sudden movements towards the dog. All of these actions will make the dog feel threatened and can make the dog more aggressive.
- Let sleeping dogs lie. When a dog is sleeping or eating, leave the dog alone.
- Never tease dogs. Don’t take their toys, food or treats, and never pretend to hit or kick them. This could create distrust in the dog, and make him or her more aggressive.
- Playtime has a beginning and end. A dog has to want to play, but when the dog leaves, that’s your cue that playtime is over. The dog will come back for more play if he feels like it.
- Never pull a dog’s ears or tail. Pain makes a dog feel like he is in danger and he could respond by biting.
- Dogs aren’t toys. Never climb on or try to ride dogs. Not only could this scare or anger the dog, but it could also injure the dog if he cannot support the weight or tries to get away.
- Dog crates are safe spaces. Don’t bother a dog when he is in his crate. Dogs need a comfortable, safe place where the child never goes. Remember, dogs need alone time too!
Teach your children these simple lessons to reduce dog bites, and help keep your kids and pups safe, happy and healthy! For more information on preventing dog bites, visit www.avma.org.