Seeing your child’s face light up when they see a friendly “doggy” can bring a big smile to everyone’s face. Unfortunately, not every dog is friendly and not every dog will treat your child well. In fact, children are more likely to be the victims of severe dog bites than adults.

These injuries can have life-long effects. They can also prove psychologically damaging to you and your child. Instead of playing with dogs, they may fear them for the rest of their lives.

How can you protect your child?

The best way to protect your child from dog bites is to prevent the bite in the first place. Sadly, many people only learn these lessons after the fact. If you can teach your child to respect unfamiliar and family dogs from an early age, they can carry those lessons for the rest of their lives.

You can help to protect your child by leading by example. Keep the following in mind if you or your child wants to approach a dog:

  • Always ask the owner for permission before you pet a dog.
  • When you ask, stop an arm’s length away from the reach of the leash.
  • Never pet a service dog that is wearing a vest or is on a designated leash.
  • Keep your child by your side that is opposite from the dog.
  • Do not allow your child to scream and run up to dogs that look friendly.
  • Teach your children to keep their hands and faces away from an unfamiliar dog’s face.
  • Do not try to take food away from a dog that is eating.
  • If your child is nervous, remind them not to look the dog in the eye.
  • If your child wants to give the dog a treat, remind them to keep their fingers together.

If you exercise caution around dogs that you do not know, you help to protect yourself against dog bites. Although a dog is ultimately their owners’ responsibility, leaving a child alone with a dog could be considered negligence.

If a dog bites your child, explore your legal options. You may be entitled to compensation.