Preventing dog bites: how to protect children
By Dorothée Pâris Pasturel • 14 July 2021
“A dog bit a child in the face.”
“A man was bitten on the neck by the neighbour’s dog.”
“A woman was seriously bitten by her dog.”
We always think the same thing:“my dog will never bite, he’s way too sweet!” And yet… Bam! Out of nowhere, our sweet pup did something terrible.
We often read the following in newspaper articles about bite incidents: “I don’t understand why my dog bit, everything was fine. It just happened.” Well, no, it didn’t just happen. In the vast majority of cases, a dog will give multiple warning signals indicating that it is uncomfortable in a situation. Therefore, the dog warns us. But few of us can read this information.
Dogs biting children often make the headlines because this type of incident is more impressive and often more serious, yet not unavoidable. Far from it.
In Quebec, more than 3 out of 4 families own a dog. A survey conducted by the AMVQ (Association des Médecins Vétérinaires du Québec) indicates that statistical reports report 45,000 cases of bites in children and 164,000 in Quebecers, of which 51% were initiated by the family dog. In this context, it is imperative to teach parents AND children how to properly interact and behave with dogs.
Several diagrams like these are created by associations and professionals of the canine world in order to underline and prevent this lack of knowledge:
Proanima has also developed an awareness program for South Shore schools, funded by Desjardins, in order to teach elementary and high school students about the responsibilities associated with animals, and also about dog behaviour.
Things a child should absolutely know:
- Do not approach a dog you don’t know (even if he looks nice!)
- Never wake a sleeping dog
- Never take a toy from a dog
- Never play in his bowl
- Never climb on your dog to play (he doesn’t like it!)
- Always let the dog come to you
- Play with a toy and always in the presence of an adult
Things parents should absolutely know:
- Never leave your child unattended with your dog
- Never let your child interact in a disrespectful way with the dog (pulling the ears and tail, climbing on him, staring him in the eyes…) even if the dog does not seem to be bothered
- Provide a calm and tranquil place for the dog, which children aren’t allowed to access
Things dog owners should absolutely know:
- If your dog is a puppy, don’t forget to socialize him to make sure he turns into an adult dog who is well balanced and comfortable in his own fur!
- Keep your dog on a leash at all times during walks. You cannot predict his reactions.
- If a child is running or approaching your dog on a walk, stop him: ask him to let your dog approach him, and to talk to him softly (or simply not to interact with him if you think your dog would not like it). Be the one handling the situation, not the child.
- Take a training class with your dog. You will learn as much as him!
Now is the time to check out our video about the consent test: does my dog want cuddles?
Dear parents, dog owners and other protagonists, we invite you to become aware with us today. Get informed, get trained, be curious about the world of dog behaviour. Several resources can help you better understand what our dogs are telling us:
- Presentation in schools offered free of charge by our shelter: contact us now for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
- Bite prevention workshop offered by De Main de Maître
- Educational material created by Humanimo
- Leaflet to print, created by Ça c’est chien and the Sainte-Justine Hospital
- DVD on bite prevention made by Ça c’est chien
- Read: 3 signes incompris que les chiens donnent avant de mordre!
- Read also: Connaissez-vous la meilleure façon d’entraîner votre chien à mordre sans prévenir?
Please feel free to contact us for advice or help.