Warmer Weather Means More Dog Bites Among Georgia Children

While this winter seems to be taking its time leaving, warmer days are just around the corner. And with the coming warmer weather, children and their parents need to be on guard against dog bites.

Research shows dog bites are most common in the summertime. So while you’ve got your children indoors for a few more chilly weeks, spending some time talking about dog bite prevention could prevent a tragedy later.

Dogs more likely to attack in summer

When it’s warmer, children are more likely to be outside playing and having a good time. A study published in the journal “Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery”, found that dog bite frequency peaked in summer months.

Law enforcement, animal control, and EMS officials echo these findings. Responding to dog attacks is a more frequent occurrence when the weather is warmer and children are out of school. The U.S. Postal Service designates the week leading up to Memorial Day each May as “National Dog Bite Prevention Week.”

Dog bite prevention for the whole family

As a parent, it’s important to teach your children about properly interacting with dogs to prevent a bite. Prevent the Bite, an advocacy group, says children are three times as likely as adults to be bitten by dogs. In at least some of these cases, the bites occur because an over-curious young child does not understand how dangerous dogs can be.

Because the majority of dog bites involve family pets, preventing a dog attack begins at home and with your responsibilities as a dog owner.

Properly socializing and training your dog makes them less likely to be afraid of strangers and children, and therefore less likely to feel defensive and attack. If you teach your dog to be aggressive, it may misdirect that aggression on the smallest members of your family. Instead, teach your dog to be at ease around people by socializing it with friends, family, and even strangers at the local dog park.

Basic commands like “sit”, “stay” and “no” are important to establish authority over the dog. Aggressive games like wrestling and tug-of-war are invitations to aggressive behavior and should be avoided.

Prevention around strange dogs

Most parents are concerned about their child’s safety around strange dogs rather than the family pet, and with good reason. With unfamiliar dogs, you don’t know how the dog has been trained or raised, and if the dog has been exposed to children.

The best lesson to teach your child about strange dogs is that they should never approach them alone or without your permission.

Frequently, children will approach a wandering dog or one on the opposite side of the fence because dogs are cute and seen as playful and fun. Children may not realize that the sweetest looking pup could have an aggression problem or could see them as a threat.

Before sending your children out to play this summer, remind them:

  • Do not approach strange dogs.
  • Do not run past dogs, as this creates an urge to chase.
  • If a dog approaches you, remain calm and still and allow it to smell you before moving on.
  • If you are frightened by a dog, remain calm and don’t scream or yell. Try to remain still until the dog moves on. You can also back away slowly from the dog.
  • If you fall to the ground and a dog is biting you, curl into a ball and protect your head and neck.
  • Never disturb a dog that is eating, tending to their puppies, or sleeping.