Dogs are great playmates and family animals. But again and again they become a danger: Every year, an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 bite injuries in Germany require medical treatment, and far more than half of those treated are children. Bite injuries in children are more serious than in adults because dogs tend to bite small children in the neck or head, especially in the cheeks and lips.
The number of dog bites in children increases in summer
Dogs bite particularly often in the warm summer months. So far, there is only guess as to why this is the case: in warm weather, children play outside more often and may therefore spend more time with dogs, it could also be that the connoisseurs are generally more irritable at higher temperatures and that they are “revealing” when hot “open skin areas offer an additional attraction.
Integrate the dog into the family
When dogs bite, the fun with the pet is quickly gone. If dogs are to find their place in families with small children, then rules are required that are observed. Children can learn to treat dogs appropriately, to respect them as animals with innate instincts and to take responsibility for them.
If parents and children correctly assess the behavior of dogs and spend enough time to raise their four-legged friend, the dog can become a valuable family member.
10 rules for dealing with dogs
1. Consider each dog as an individual being!
Every dog is different. The breed alone says nothing about how the individual animal behaves at certain moments. A good eye for the behavior of the animal helps to recognize critical situations in good time. Children and adults should generally approach foreign dogs carefully, because each dog has its own characteristics and experiences with children.
2. Never annoy the dog!
Eyes, ears, snout and nose are very sensitive areas for the dog. Some dogs do not like to be stroked, pulled on or played around with these parts of the body.
3. Never disturb a dog when eating!
Dogs react like hunting animals: if they have something to eat, they defend their “prey”. Any disturbance is considered an attack. The dog defends its food by growling and biting.
4. Patent recipes do not apply!
“Dogs that bark don’t bite” – this rule is wrong, barking dogs also snap shut. Children should learn to keep an eye on the overall situation instead of blindly trusting supposed rules.
5. Don’t get involved when dogs are fighting!
Dogs that get into their hair are out of control. Children should not join the fight because they are not strong enough to separate the animals.
6. Hold still when a dog snaps!
If a dog snaps for a child, the child should keep as still and calm as possible and not look at the dog. If the hand snapped off, the dog only intensifies the bite. On the other hand, something that does not move quickly becomes uninteresting for the dog and he lets go of it.
7. Do not automatically pet other dogs!
A dog that B. on a leash in front of a shop may not be petted. The dog owner should always be asked in advance. Children should only approach foreign dogs slowly from the front and wait until the animal makes contact by itself. Even after the owner’s permission, the dog should only be touched if the dog looks at the person calmly and wags its tail. Carefully stroke other dogs in the front on the side of the neck, never on the top of the head. First approach the dog slowly from the side, keeping your hands down and let the dog sniff first. It is better not to stare directly into the dog’s eyes – this could make him feel threatened.
8. Don’t run away from dogs!
Dogs like to run and hunt; they want to snatch a child running away. Therefore: stop and turn away from the dog; no shouting or hectic movements. A standing, immobile person quickly becomes uninteresting for the dog. If a dog suddenly approaches the child, it should stop immediately, look away, not scream and let the arms hang loosely. If it has toys like a ball or stick in hand, it should drop it. Hinge traps? Then it is best to “dead” – flat on your stomach or rolled up like an embryo into a ball and clasped your hands over your neck for protection.
Don’t forget: Always walk or drive past a dog at a distance – outside the “snapping range”.
9. Baby on the go? Prepare the dog!
When a birth is pending, the rules change indoors – and the dog should train this several weeks beforehand so that it is prepared and the baby does not perceive it as a competitor. What the dog should learn:
Playful biting into human body parts is taboo
- The children’s room may no longer be entered or only upon express invitation
- Children’s toys are not dog toys
- When the baby is there: Never leave the dog alone with the baby.
10. Children must also be considerate!
From the earliest crawling age, children have to learn that the dog is not always available as a play partner and that there are some items in the household that are only for the dog. The dog blanket or the basket are taboo for the child, as are the dog toys and the food bowl.