Keeping Kids Safe – Avoiding Dog Bite Injury

san-diego-animal-accidentsMany children love dogs and want to pet every dog they see.  Millions of people have dogs as a member of their family.  This is especially true in San Diego and Riverside where dogs are found in most public places such as parks, the beach, restaurants and even some stores.  Although a majority of dogs are friendly loving pets, some can still be dangerous or may attack or cause serious injury when provoked.  This blog is a reminder on how to keep children safe from dog bite injury.

According to, nearly 5 million dog bites happen every year in the United States. Of those, close to a million require medical treatment, like a trip to the doctor or emergency department.   It is extremely important to remember a dog attack can occur even when the dog is unprovoked or the owner says it is safe to pet their dog.  For example, less than a year ago in San Diego, a young girl was attacked by a Chihuahua while looking into a fountain in Balboa Park.  Additionally, recently in Murrieta, an owner of a dog on a leash told a child it was safe for him to pet the dog and the dog attacked the three year old boy sending him to the hospital.

To keep your children safe near and around dogs, teach your children how to interact with dogs and other animals.  Here are a few basic safety tips on preventing a dog bite.

1)      Teach Dog Manners:  Teach your child how to interact with a dog, especially when meeting a dog they are unfamiliar with.   One dog expert, Paul Owens, created an easy acronym for remembering how to safely play with a dog – “DOG SAFE” 

D: Don’t Tease – Don’t take a toy or food from a dog.

O: Only Pet with Permission – Ask permission from the owner, some dogs are afraid of strangers

G: Give the dog space – Some dogs do not like to be crowded and can make the dog feel cornered resulting in an attack.    Also, do not approach a dog that is tied up, they can’t run, thus their natural defense mechanism is to fight.

S: Slow Down – don’t run toward, quickly approach or surprise a dog.

A: Always Get Help – if you find a lost dog or see a dog that is alone, get help from an adult.  Don’t approach the dog.  Lost dogs may be scared or injured.

F: Fingers together – put dog treats in the palm of your hand so the dog can easily get the treat.

E: Even Good Dogs Can Bite – remember to avoid doing things that could startle a dog, such as scaring a dog while they are sleeping or disturbing them while they are sleeping.  This could result in even the friendliest dog biting your child.

2)      Never Get Between Two Dogs that are Fighting - Teach your child to stay away from fighting dogs and to not attempt to save their dog in the case of a fight between two dogs.  This situation can result in serious injury.

3)      What to Do If You Encounter A Strange or Growling Dog:

According to various dog experts, if you encounter a growling dog, do not run.  A dog’s instinct is to give chase.  Dog experts recommend to “Be a Tree” – fold in your branches (arms and legs), stand calmly and don’t make eye contact with the dog.  Don’t turn your back and carefully walk backwards to a place of safety.  Call for help as calmly as possible.  If you have a back pack or other bag place use it to protect your body from the dog.

The founding partners at Martinez & Schill LLP are both mothers of young children.  Our “Keeping Kids Safe” feature is published twice a month to help parents to keep their kids safe.  Stay Safe Everyone! Follow our Facebook to See More on Keeping Kids Safe!



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