Nowadays, dogs attacking children seems to be very common in our society. Whenever we hear about dog attacks, we always think it must be the dog’s fault; the dog must be aggressive, not good with humans, therefore he/she must be euthanised. Majority of dogs do not attack out of the blue. However, have we have thought about why there are so many children been attacked by dogs. Is it the dog breed? Or dogs do not get along with children? Is it really the dog’s fault or the child’s?
Why dogs attack children?
– Young children or toddlers are much shorter and smaller than a full grown adult. Their movements and voices are completely different to adults. When the child approaches the dog with fast movement, screaming and yelling, this may trigger the dog’s prey drive.
– Children often project excited energy when interacting with dogs. This may cause the dog to become hyper and excited energy, which can hurt the child when playing too rough.
– Some children may project fearful energy when approaching dogs. When the fearful and weak energy is transmitted, the dog may become fearful and anxious. Hence, he/she may show aggression to escape the situation.
– The child might have done something that might have provoked the dog’s aggression. For example, hugging the dog too hard, pulling its fur, tail, ears or any part of the body.
– The dog might be protecting his/her territory, food, toys or puppies. For example, the child puts his/her fingers through the gate to interact with the dog. In this case, the dog thinks the child is invading his/her territory and bites the child’s fingers.
– Having direct eye contact with the dog can provoke aggression. As some dogs may translates the eye contact as a challenge.
– Inappropriate approach or interaction with dogs that are fearful, grumpy or anxious. Hence, the dog will show aggression to escape the situation.
How to prevent dog attacks?
– Educate your child: Always ask the owner if it it alright to touch the dog. Some dogs may be fearful and weary around strangers. While other dogs may be overly excited when meeting strangers or children.
– Educate your child not to have direct eye contact with an unknown dog, as some dogs may see it as a challenge or a threat.
– Never touch an unknown dog’s head. As the dog may see it as a threat as well. When the dog feels threatened, he/she may run away to escape the situation, or he/she may exhibit aggression. Pat the dog from below his/her chest, scratch the dog’s chin, chest.
– When around an unknown loose dog, avoid fast movement. Do not approach the dog. Never ever turn your back to the dog and run. This may trigger the dog’s prey drive.
– Dogs can sense our energy very well. Never let your child meet the dog with excited energy, as this will make the dog excited as well. Sometimes, excitement can escalate to aggression. Try to get your child to stay calm when meeting a dog. If your child is excited or fearful, it is not a good time to meet the dog.
– Do not let your child throw sticks or stones or objects at the dog. When the dog is hurt and in pain, it will trigger aggression.
– Do not let your child approach and interact with a fearful or anxious dog.
– Children need socialisation as well. He/she needs to expose to different noises, animals to prevent fear and anxiety. Socialise your child with dogs, so that he/she is less fearful with dogs. Start the socialisation with older, calmer, well-mannered, well-socialised dogs to build up your child’s confidence around dogs.
– Supervise your child when he/she is interacting or playing with a dog. If the play gets too rough, stop immediately.
– Socialise your dogs to children, humans and animals, so that your dog is neither timid or over excitedly to deal with different situations.
– All dogs need exercise to drain out their energy, so that your dog remains calm and relaxed.
In conclusion, it is not always the dogs’ fault when humans or children got attacked by dogs. There is often a miscommunication between human and the dog. Regardless who’s fault was it, when humans got hurt, it is always the dogs who get punished. Children and dog can get along very well, and we can minimise the chance of dogs attacking children. Parents are responsible for educating the child on how to interact with dogs properly. Dog owners have the responsibility to socialise their dogs with different environment, humans, children and animals.