Keeping Children Safe from Dog Bites


Being bitten and seriously injured by an attacking dog is a horrible ordeal that no child or child’s parent should ever have to endure. Unfortunately, it happens to some 400,000 children each year, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, and about 80,000 of these children require medical attention.

  • 37 percent of children bitten were ages 5 to 9 years old, according to the AVMA.
  • 66 percent of injuries to children four years and younger were to the head and neck.
  • Households with two dogs are five times more likely to have a dog bite injury.

If you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog owned by another person in the state of Georgia, you may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries and related expenses. Dog owners can be held legally responsible if they knew or should have known their dog was dangerous or if the dog was not under the owner’s control in violation of local leash laws.

An experienced dog bite lawyer can help you gather evidence to prove a dog owner’s liability after a dog attack and obtain compensation for your injuries. However, it is better if you – and your children – know how to avoid being bitten by a dog.

The first thing a child or adult needs to know is that ANY dog can bite.

Most dog bite victims are bitten by a dog they know, whether it’s their own pet, a neighbor’s dog or a friend or relative’s animal, according to the American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Dogs can be friendly and faithful companions when treated correctly, but it’s a mistake to assume an unfamiliar dog will be friendly. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says we must educate children about dogs according to their level of understanding. For young children, focus on gentle behavior and what treatment dogs will and won’t like. As children grow older, help them to develop an understanding of dog behavior and how to recognize a potentially aggressive dog.

The ASPCA, AVMA, Humane Society, the For Kids’ Sake Safety Around Dogs program and the National Safety Council provide tips that can help you keep your children safe from dog bites. Here are some of their suggestions:

Avoid unknown dogs.

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Do not approach a dog you do not know, including dogs wandering free and dogs on leashes controlled by their owners. A dog that doesn’t know you may see you as an intruder or a threat.

Stay away from a dog that is:

  • Barking
  • Growling
  • Eating
  • Chewing on a toy or bone
  • Sleeping or trying to sleep
  • Caring for puppies
  • In a vehicle
  • Behind a fence
  • Tied or chained up.

Move slowly if approached by an unknown dog.

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Stand still as a dog approaches and let it sniff you. Avoid eye contact with the dog. In a moment it will lose interest. Then, back away slowly until you are out of the dog’s sight.

Treat dogs gently.

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Dogs can easily become excited and turn aggressive. Speak quietly and move slowly around dogs. Children should not run or scream around a dog, especially if they are trying to move away from the dog. Do not tease or roughhouse with a dog.

Ask the owner’s permission before petting a dog, even one you know.

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If the owner says it’s OK, let the dog to sniff the back of your hand, and then gently pet the dog’s back or sides.

“Feed” an attacking dog.

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If a dog moves aggressively toward you, give it something else to attract its attention , such as your jacket, book bag, or bicycle. As the dog deals with the object you have put before it, back away slowly; do not run. Any sudden movements will bring the dog’s attention back to you.

If knocked down, cover up.

If an attacking or playing dog knocks you don, you should roll into a ball. Tuck your knees into your stomach and bow your head and face toward your knees. Put your hands across the back of your neck and interlace your fingers. Lie still and be quiet. Let the dog sniff you. It will probably lose interest and leave fairly quickly.

Learn the signs of a potentially aggressive dog.

A dog will bite if it is startled, threatened or injured. Stand back from a dog exhibiting such signs as:

  • Tensed body
  • Stiff tail
  • Pulled back head and/or ears
  • Furrowed brow
  • Eyes rolled so the whites are visible
  • Yawning
  • Flicking tongue
  • Intense stare
  • Backing away.

If bitten or attacked by a dog:

  • Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water
  • Contact your physician for additional care and advice
  • Report the bite to your local animal control agency
  • Contact an experienced dog bite attorney if you have any medical expenses, other financial losses or significant pain or suffering because of a dog bite.