Letting your young children pet the neighborhood dog can seem like an innocent act. Unfortunately, due to the unpredictability of animals, a seemingly harmless situation can turn grim in an instant.
As warmer days start to stick around, you and your family will probably be spending more time outside. It’s important to keep an eye on small children when there are pets around, whether that be on an afternoon stroll, at a friend’s house or in your front yard.
Dog bite precautions
Each year, about 800,000 people in the U.S. receive medical attention for dog bites. Half of theses cases are small children. Since anyone can become a victim to a dog bite or attack, these are some things to keep in mind to protect both you and your family:
- Slow movements: Subtle is the best policy with dogs you’ve never met and dogs you know. Before petting a dog, you can let them sniff you or your children’s hands so they can become more familiar with your scent and comfortable with you. Think of it as a dog’s way of initiating a handshake. From there, be sure to keep a gentle and slow approach in mind while both petting the dog and maneuvering around the dog.
- Set boundaries: Let your child know they should avoid petting the dog’s face as that’s the closest spot to the dog’s mouth. You should also avoid sensitive spots like the dog’s tail area and paws. Not overwhelming the dog by petting or playing with it for a long time can also help keep the dog calm, especially if they are new to you.
- Vaccination check: To prepare for the worst-case scenario, it’s worth being aware of the dog’s rabies vaccination and up to date on you and your families’ tetanus shots. If the dog is the pet of a family friend, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask if the dog has had a recent rabies shot. Otherwise, most veterinarians will put a tag that shows proof of the dog’s vaccine on their collar.
In the unfortunate event that you need to help your loved one heal from a dog bite you can take legal action to receive damages to make up for costly medical bills or any other harm.