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9 Tips To Keep Kids Safe From Dog Bites

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Dog bites are dangerous -- and expensive -- business. State Farm Insurance revealed that injuries stemming from approximately 3,800 canine chomp claims cost them $109 million last year. This is up from 2010, when the company paid $90 for about 3,5000 claims.

The state in which most incidents occurred was California, unsurprising as it's also home to more dogs than any other. State Farm spokesperson Eddie Martinez said that 527 claims were filed in California in 2011 and the victims were paid $20.3 million -- 31 percent from 2010.

More Dog Bite Stats:
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year and more than half of the victims are children.
  • Approximately 800,000 people seek medical attention for the bites and less than half of those people require treatment.
  • The agency said that about 16 a year die.
  • After children ages 5 to 9 years old, the agency said that seniors represent the largest group at risk, followed by letter carriers.
  • Medical expenses from dog attacks cost the Postal Service just over $1 million last year.
Keeping Kids Safe From Dog Bites

In honor of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, the third full week of May, WebVet wants to educate you on how to keep kids safe from dog bites:

Self-defense/fear-related aggression

It is elementary dog psychology that if a dog feels threatened, he is likely to attack. Although we may find it difficult to imagine that a 50-pound dog would feel threatened by a cute 20-pound toddler, it's only because we know that the child is no threat to the dog.

A dog is guided by its instincts. Unfortunately, a child's unpredictable, jerking movements, often loud and unfamiliar voice pitch, sudden running, or playful grabbing may signal danger to the dog and trigger a self-defense response.

Resource-guarding

People often forget that dogs are very possessive, whether it be toward toys, food, their beds, or even family members, and they will guard what they think is rightfully theirs, often quite fiercely. This "resource-guarding'' behavior is the dog's way of saying: "Hey, don't mess with my stuff!''

Territorial aggression

Dogs are territorial animals. That is why they bark when a stranger approaches their home or when the doorbell rings. This territorial protectiveness generally increases if a dog is left alone for long periods of time with little stimulation. In a recent article that Reisner co-authored, study results showed that territorial aggression was the most common reason for dog bites to unfamiliar children.

Conflict-related aggression

If someone behaves toward you in a way that you find annoying or offensive, you will probably object. When a dog is annoyed or offended (yes, dogs can be offended), it will also object, sometimes by biting. Children often behave inappropriately toward dogs simply because they don't know, for example, that grabbing a dog's face, pulling its tail, or suddenly waking it from a deep sleep is not welcome behavior.

Predatory aggression

Although dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, they still have predatory instincts, albeit in varying degrees, and these instincts can sometimes be aroused. The danger is greatest to infants, who more closely resemble small prey animals. Breeds that seem to be particularly predisposed to such attacks include terriers, Huskies, and Malamutes. In addition, any dog that is accustomed to hunting and killing small animals is more of a danger to an infant.
What you can do to protect your children from dog bites

Now that we have a "dog's-eye view'' of children, we can get specific about how to minimize the chances that your child will be bitten. Here are some specific recommendations:
  •     Never leave an infant or small child unattended with a dog, even for a brief period.
  •     A dog with a history of biting should be confined or restrained in the presence of small children.
  •     Teach your children that unfamiliar dogs -- no matter how small, cute, or fluffy -- should not be touched or approached without adult permission.
  •     Children should be taught to respect their pets; this includes not disturbing the pets while they are eating or sleeping, or while they are chewing or playing with a toy or bone.
  •     Dogs should never be "cornered'' against a wall or furniture or in their resting places.
  •     Children should avoid close face-to-face contact with any dog.
  •     If confronted by a growling dog, children should be taught to walk away slowly and not to run.
  •     Puppy owners should expose their young dogs to a variety of other pets as well as children of different ages. Familiarity reduces fear.
  •     Dogs should not be left unattended outdoors for long periods of time.
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