Individuals in the United States who own dogs must undertake the responsibility for their pets’ behavior, especially when they bite and injure a small child. This occurrence is not an uncommon one, and Reuters notes that around 2.5 million children receive dog bites each year, with children age six and younger the most numerous victims.
While dog bites can cause physical and emotional trauma in children, parents and other adults can prevent these incidents by understanding why even a trusted pet may bite a child and what actions may increase this risk.
Most dog owners consider their pets as a member of their family and sometimes tend to treat them like humans instead of animals. They may even expect rational, human behavior from their animals; however, any dog under stress from hot weather, changes in its schedule or fear of a new situation may react by biting. Young children may fail to see the danger when dogs react to stress, so close supervision of both may prevent a biting incident when they are together.
Young children tend to suffer dog bites more often than adults because of their relative size when compared to most breeds. Larger dogs tend to knock young children down before biting them or jump up and bite, which causes head and facial wounds. This is often especially true of toddlers, who do not have the proper motor skills to balance themselves if a dog knocks them down and attacks.
Teaching children to respect the danger a dog can represent may help prevent actions that could lead a dog to bite. Adults who want to add a dog to their family that includes small children may want to research compatible breeds before adopting.