Prevent a child from being bitten by following these guidelines described in an April 2013 edition of The AAP News which is the official news magazine for the American Academy of Pediatrics (Volume 34,Number 4, April 2013).
The Article is for parents and instructs them to NEVER leave dogs and young children alone together. The author states that about a dozen people die each year from dog bite injuries and children are three times more likely to be bitten than adults. Most people are apparently bitten by their own dog or one they “know”. Sadly, about 75% of dog bites to children are to the head. The emotionally traumatic aftermath of a bite to the head can cause psychological repercussions.
The article advises parents to teach children to follow specific rules to be safe around dogs:
1. Do not yell near a dog
2. Stay still and calm when a strange dog approaches you
3. Ask permission BEFORE petting someone else's dog
4. Never chase a dog
5. Don't stick your hands or fingers through a fence to pet a dog
6. Do not bother a dog when it is eating or sleeping
The article urges parents to wait until their children are at least 4 years old before getting a dog and to make sure the dog is trained and socialized to be used to other dogs and people (including children) at a young age. The dog should be trained in basic commands, vaccinated and neutered.
Be particularly cautious when having dogs around infants-dogs may attack an infant in a baby swing.
I read this article and reflected on my late German Shepherd, Samson, who was exceptionally well trained in obedience class and well socialized with a parade of contractors practically residing in my 1870 farmhouse which we were renovating. Samson had a terrific wisdom about him and we trusted him with adults, children and other dogs. However, the day we erected a swing set in our backyard for our little girl, we learned that even a well trained dog will have his “triggers” or “buttons” pushed by unexpected events. The very sight of anyone on the swings drove him wild, perhaps due to his propensity to herd as German Shepherds were bred to do.
The first day she was on the swing set, he went suddenly rampaging toward the swing with our daughter on it and began jumping up and snapping at the swing with my daughter in it. We were shocked and stopped the swing immediately. He calmed down instantly. We knew he was afraid of the swing or felt it was a threat of some kind. We never again allowed him in the yard while my daughter was on the swings. We tried to work with him on the problem and he improved with time and age, but I was never willing to trust him with children on the swingset again. In his 12+ years of life, he never bit anyone, but he was just an animal, albeit pretty well trained and domesticated one. I am grateful we were out in the yard on that first day or the unthinkable could have happened.
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