It is shocking to learn that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that half of all children who are 12 years of age and under, have been bitten by a dog. There are many reasons why this occurs. Some are that children are unsupervised, tease the dog, startle the dog, hurt the dog, wander near a confined dog or try to hug an unfamiliar dog.
All types and sizes of dogs can bite a child or adult and it is not fair to label certain breeds as more aggressive. In many cases, a small bite from a small dog will go unreported. Because large dogs do more damage, those bites often require medical attention and are reported.
Children are most likely to sustain injuries to their face when bitten because of their small size. They are not strong enough to protect themselves or fight off an attacking dog which can cause more severe injuries than an adult would sustain.
According to a study conducted by by Dr Sarah Rose and Grace Aldridge of Staffordshire University, England, one reason why children are bitten is because they cannot recognize when a dog appears frightened although they do recognize when a dog is angry.
There are a few things adults can do to protect themselves and their children. The adult can learn to read and recognize body language in dogs. This will help them understand the emotional state of the dog. If the child is old enough they too can learn how to read body language. If the child is very young (toddler and older) they should be supervised and not allowed near unfamiliar dogs. Even if the family has a pet dog, the child should be supervised when around the dog. Given the right situation, all dogs will bite.
If the family has a pet dog the child must be taught how to play with the dog. All dogs are different and some become highly excited when playing. Under these conditions a dog could bite. Keep in mind that not all bites are aggressive acts, but unfortunately all types of bites are usually considered aggressive by authorities.
The older child must be taught not to approach strange dogs unless they are assured by the owner that it is safe. Then they must be taught how to safely approach a strange dog.
With a little bit of education on the part of the adult and child, many dog bites can be prevented. Protecting both people and your dog is part of being a responsible dog owner.