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Child Safety Around Dogs

Updated: Apr 2


There have been two children who died from dog attacks in the past week in North Alabama. I provided dog safety content with two stories for the local news on the topic. Here are the links to the stories with an article and video.

One was a 4-year-old boy who accidentally crossed a neighbor's yard while riding his bike with his father. The yard had an electric fence, and once the dog saw the boy, it attacked him immediately. The news did not provide any more details. The boy knew the dog and had interacted with it many times. The dog had no prior aggression. 

The second attack was a 2-year-old boy who got into the backyard of his next-door neighbor and was attacked by 1-3 dogs.  The details of this story are still very vague. We know that the gate latch was not locked, and somehow, the dogs escaped from their kennels. 

Both of these incidents sent the entire community in shock. There have never been two dog attack incidents like this in Northern Alabama. I want to share some safety tips for dog owners and the general public. These are suggestions. The bottom line is that any dog can bite anybody at any time. 

Dog Bite Statistics (1)

  • More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the US.

  • 50% of all dog bites happen to children

  • Children are the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.

  • Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.

The AVMA provided this information, and they go on to say that:

Any dog can bite: big or small, male or female, young or old. Even the cuddliest, fuzziest, sweetest pet can bite if provoked. (1)

Why Dogs Bite

Dogs bite for various reasons, but usually, because they react to something and feel threatened. They can bite if they are scared or startled. They can also bite if they are not feeling well due to an injury or illness. 

How to Prevent a Dog Bite

  • Teach your children that dogs have boundaries. Some dogs do not like touching or petting in a particular area or part of their body.

  • Teach your children that moving fast and high-pitched screams and voices attract dogs and make them more excited and hyper. This creates opportunities for dog aggression accidents, even if the dog has never bitten anyone. 

  • Never allow a child to approach a dog while they are asleep. Abruptly waking up a dog could cause them to react by biting when they are startled. 

  • NEVER allow children to approach an unfamiliar dog, especially if they run towards them with a loud, high-pitched, screaming voice. This will startle the dog, and it may react aggressively out of fear. 

  • If the dog or puppy is very excited, jumping, and playfully nipping (not aggressively), have your child stand like a tree. This will help communicate to the puppy through body language to relax and calm down. Shortly after, the dog should lie down and do nothing because it is not rewarded for acting crazy. 

Warning Signs that a Dog Might Bite

  • Whale eyes: the dog will avert its head slightly, and the whites of its eyes will appear in a half-moon shape. 

  • Tense body and face: look at the dog’s entire body, face, eyes, and ears. Don’t think that a wagging tail means they are friendly and happy because that’s only a small part of reading a dog.

  • Growling: this is usually a warning signal to move away; the dog may feel threatened. 

  • Air snap: this is where the dog snaps at you but misses on purpose. It is a precursor to a dog bite. It is the final warning signal that the dog is uncomfortable and will bite if pushed any further. 

How to Survive a Dog Bite

  • Do not run: A very fast human can run 15 mph, while the average dog can run 20 mph. Fast movement stimulates a dog, and that’s the last thing you want from a dog that intends to attack.

  • Do not scream: High-pitched sounds and voices could attract the dog to you and make it more excited, which could provoke a more intense dog attack. 

  • Stand still or move slowly: This may contradict your instincts, but it might help the dog realize you are not a threat. 

  • Curl up in a fetal position: if the dog will not calm down and looks like it will bite when they get close, you need to protect your neck, face, head, and stomach because these are the most vulnerable dog bit areas that could be fatal. 


The tips in this article are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to save anyone's life or entirely prevent a dog attack. 


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